A new study shows Australian citizens and residents overwhelmingly support temporary migrants to obtain permanent residency in Australia.
According to the independent survey conducted by Essential Research, the majority of the Australian population believe migrants should have the opportunity to become permanent residents in Australia.
1,095 Australians were interviewed for the survey in December, with 78% of the participants voicing support for temporary migrants who are living and working in Australia to be given PR pathways.
Australians participating in the study also said that migrants should have the ability to plan for the future, regardless of what visa they hold.
The survey, which was commissioned by the Human Rights Law Centre, also shows that a majority of Australians believe migrants help fill skills shortages in Australia and bring cultural diversity to the country.
58% of participants said migrants cover skills gaps in the local workforce for particular jobs, while 54% supported migrants for making Australia more culturally diverse.
Moreover, nearly a quarter of all participants (24%) believed migrants help counter Australia’s ageing population, and one-third (33%) said that migrants work in lower-paying jobs that Australians would not want to do.
Speaking on the results of the study, Human Rights Law Centre legal director David Burke said while every person should have the opportunity to plan their future with some security, the Australian federal government’s visa system was keeping eligible migrants in limbo.
He said migrants who have lived and worked in Australia for years are not being able to reunite with their family in the country due to a complicated visa system.
He also said the survey results show that Australians can clearly recognise their friends, colleagues and neighbours being stuck in uncertainty due to the shortcomings of policies regarding temporary visas.
Mr Burke urged the Australian government to ensure the migration system reflects the views and values of the Australian population by allowing temporary migrants to have a permanent and stable future in Australia.
Australia’s migration system was widely reformed in the late 1990s to prioritise skilled migration and empathise temporary migration to Australia.
Since then, the number of temporary visas to Australia has grown significantly – particularly driven by an increase in the number of incoming international students – but the number of new permanent residents has not grown proportionately.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted Australia’s migration program, which has given Australia an opportunity to reset its approach to immigration.