Ensure employer-sponsored skilled visa programs advance the Australian dance sector

International arts appointments can contribute artistic excellence to the Australian dance and cultural sector. 

We are working to ensure the specific artistic expertise and knowledge contributed by international experience can continue to advance the Australian dance sector.

We are asking for dance occupations to be moved to the Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List to support the long-term artistic commitments often required for international engagement of elite dance artists.

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Changes to the skilled visa program

In 2017 the Government announced changes to its employer-sponsored permanent and temporary skilled visa program. Reforms accompanied the visa changes, with revisions to the skilled occupation lists that underpin these visa programs and new visa eligibility conditions. 

A new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa was introduced in March 2018 to replace the 457 visa. This new visa program has two categories: 

  • A short-term category of up to two years, which can be renewed once only, for occupations on the Short Term Skilled Occupation List.  
  • A medium-term category of up to four years, which can be renewed multiple times and will enable access to permanent residency, for occupations on the Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List.

What is the problem?

Dance occupations have been placed on the Short-term Skilled Occupation List. However, international engagements for artistic directors and dancers usually need long-term commitments from both the artists and companies. This may affect the Australian dance sector’s ability to attract international talent, introduce skills and knowledge to the sector, and grow international artistic exchanges. 

New visa conditions and eligibility requirements (work experience, age limits, English language proficiency, labour market testing and a requirement for employers to pay a contribution to the Skilling Australians Fund) create additional challenges and financial barriers for small-to-medium dance organisations hoping to benefit from international experience. 

Who does it affect?

Primarily, 457 visas in the dance sector were used by elite performers, in addition to a number of senior arts administrative roles—positions that are specific to understanding dance including experience within a dance or performing arts organisation. 

While the number of visas within this area could be considered small, the specific artistic knowledge, understanding of the industry, and strategic expertise developed from international experience can all make significant impacts on advancing the sector here in Australia, across individual, organisational and system levels.

There is a strong need to provide the option to recruit internationally for four years with the capacity to move to permanent residency for the occupations:

  • Artistic Director (212311)
  • Dancers (211112)
  • Arts Administrator or Manager (139911)

What are we doing about it?

We provided advice to the Department of Employment for its review of the methods used to compile the Short-term Skilled Occupation List and Long-term Strategic Skills List.

Here is our submission to the Skilled Migration List Review (October 2017).

We worked with colleagues from the Australian Major Performing Arts Group (AMPAG) to understand how these changes will affect the Australian dance sector. 

AMPAG prepared a business case to add and retain certain occupations, and to amend specified visa conditions, on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List. 

Consultation for the next review of the skilled migration occupation lists started in March 2018. We will again work with AMPAG and consult with the sector to ensure the dance sector's needs are represented.

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