The Greek economic crisis has led to a sharp increase in the number of highly skilled and educated Greek nationals seeking opportunities outside Greece. The main destinations of choice for Greeks include the UK, US and other European nations. There has also been a significant rise in the number of Greeks seeking to work and study in Australia.
The purpose of this report is to outline the ways in which Greek nationals can make a valuable contribution to the economic and social fabric of Australian society and to suggest practical reforms to the Australian immigration process to facilitate the entry of Greek visa applicants to Australia.
At present, the main avenues through which Greeks are seeking entry to Australia are the permanent and temporary visa programs, including the business skills program, skilled migration program, student visa program and family migration program.
A significant proportion of Greeks are skilled, highly educated and largely fluent in English. They are attractive candidates for Australian migration.
People of Greek descent have unquestionably integrated well into the Australian community and assisted in the social and economic development of Australia. The 2006 Australian Census records 109,980 Greece-born migrants, and 365,145 people of Greek ancestry living in Australia (based on country of birth of parents). Some estimates suggest the Greek community in Australia could be as large as 600,000. The Greek population is concentrated in Melbourne (41 per cent) and Sydney (30 per cent). Melbourne, Sister City to Thessaloniki, has been described as the third largest 'Greek city' in the world and is an important overseas centre of Hellenism.
Australia has embraced Greek people and Greek culture and this has benefitted Australian society socially, culturally and economically. In short, Greeks 'fit into' the Australian community and contribute to its prosperity.
Despite this, Greek Nationals are facing significant challenges in applying for entry to Australia under the existing visa streams.
By introducing and implementing a number of key changes to the Australian visa application and processing system, Greeks will be able to more easily and effectively enter Australia to meet skills shortages and make a positive impact to the economic and social landscape in this country. We understand that Australia's migration legislation, policies and procedures are non-discriminatory in nature and we are not seeking any special or preferential treatment for Greek visa applicants. Rather, we are suggesting some small scale practical reforms to the current system to allow Greeks to more easily apply for the visas for which they are eligible.
The key changes required are expressed within the body of this report and summarised in the 'Recommendations' section at the end of the report. The report includes data directly relevant to the levels of tertiary education attained by Greek students studying abroad. The statistics present a clear picture of what these graduates have to offer with respect to language and skill sets. Information about the current Greek economic crisis is also included. By all indications unemployment levels in Greece will increase for the year 2011; at this point in time no official statistics have been released for the first quarter of the year by the OECD. The below indicators provide us with a clear picture of the difficulties faced by a large proportion of Greek citizens.
The Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne & Victoria (GOCMV) has first hand experience and knowledge in dealing with Greeks who are interested in transferring their skills and knowledge to Australia. The GOCMV has established links with individuals, lawyers, migration agents, educators, businesses, recruiters and Government bodies in Australia and Greece and is therefore well placed to inform and advise the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) about practical steps that can be taken to facilitate the entry of Greek nationals to Australia who will positively contribute to Australian society.
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