Caution needed to prevent 457 visa changes from hindering medical research discoveries

Caution needed to prevent 457 visa changes from hindering medical research discoveries

20th April, 2017

The recent announcement to abolish and replace class 457 visas could have unintentional negative consequences for Australia’s medical research sector.

Professor Tony Cunningham AO, President of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI), says the removal of key medical research roles from the list of eligible occupations for the replacement program for the 457 visa will make it more difficult to recruit the world’s very best medical researchers from overseas.

While the details available at the moment on the changes are limited, it appears that the permanent employer sponsored migration programme is also caught up in the change, leaving limited options to recruit from overseas.

“The skills we are talking about are very specialised, and in some cases, we just don’t have people here with those skills. Sometimes it’s necessary to recruit a world-class researcher specialising in developing treatments for a particular disease. That person then leads a lab here training Australians, and builds up our capacity to develop new drugs, therapies and medical devices.

“I strongly believe in providing opportunities for medical researchers trained here in Australia, but we do need the flexibility to go out there and recruit world-class researchers in the same way other leading science nations can.

“Scientists who have come to Australia to work have made some tremendous discoveries that have benefitted both our health and our nation’s wealth. For example, think of the Gardasil vaccine created here by virologists of  Scottish and Chinese origin in Professor Ian Frazer and Dr Jian Zhou respectively.

“It would be a real shame if the next Gardasil was discovered elsewhere because the medical research sector was caught up in broader changes to the immigration program.”

AAMRI is seeking urgent clarification from the Government on how the changes will work, and what can be done to ensure Australia’s medical research sector remains competitive.


Media Contact: Rebecca Thorpe, 0401 419 590,