International students will continue to be relied on to help ease pressure on the aged care workforce, with the federal government extending their right to work more hours in the sector.
On Monday, the government said it was extending the ability of student visa holders to be able to work more than 40 hours a fortnight in aged care.
International students are usually only able to work 20 hours each week, but that restriction has been relaxed in a number of sectors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said Monday’s extension would ensure the aged care sector could continue to have an “important extra workforce” for longer.
“While the vaccination program means we are seeing few hospitalisations and death, our workforce continues to be placed under pressure because of COVID-19,” he said in a statement.
“Many aged care workers, nurses and other staff have been working at a higher intensity during the pandemic.”
The extension applies to all internatonal students working in aged care, regardless of when they commenced that work.
Student visa holders who started with their employer after 8 September had previously been excluded from the changes to working hour restrictions.
“We want student visa holders to have the flexibility to take on extra work with aged care providers, which will increase the capacity of their employers and colleagues to respond to the pandemic,” Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said.
All aged care workers are required to have at least one coronavirus vaccination to remain in their job from 17 September.
The government says student visa holders already enrolled in nursing can also undertake work at the request of health officials to support Australia’s health response to COVID-19.