A South Australian aged care nurse and his family have been granted bridging visas, four days before they were set to be deported.
New visas were granted to Murray Bridge aged care worker, Clifford Chisengalumbwe, his wife, Ngoza, and their daughter, Mckayla, to stay in the country with permanent working rights until January, when they will be eligible to apply for permanent residency.
The family faced being deported tomorrow if the Federal Government did not step in and grant them new visas to stay in Australia and carry on working in aged care.
Mr Chisengalumbwe and his family’s plight got a lot of attention, especially as the aged care sector faces a skills and workforce shortage.
His Immigration Lawyer, Mark Glazbrook, told the ABC the media attention surrounding his client’s case prompted the Immigration Minister’s ministerial intervention unit to grant the family new visas.
Mr Glazbrook urged the unit or the Minister of Immigration, Andrew Giles, to look at granting the family either permanent residency or another visa that guarantees work rights for the long term.
“What would be very beneficial for Clifford and others living and working in a regional economy – and especially those [who] are working in an area where there are demonstrated skilled shortages – it would be great if the ministerial intervention unit and the Australian Government introduced new eligibility criteria that would take that into consideration,” he said.
Mr Chisengalumbwe is pleased about the decision, but added leaving immigrants in a “state of limbo” for a decision on permanent residency was dishevelling and contradictory, especially when the Government is looking to bring in skilled workers from overseas to fill workforce shortages.
“I think if the Federal Government is saying, ‘We want to attract people from overseas to address skills shortages because we’ve identified people and occupations that are in demand’, [then] we should really be looking at those people [who] are already here and helping them get residency so at least they’re settled and can move on with their lives,” he told the ABC.
Mr Chisengalumbwe and his wife first came to Australia from Zambia in 2005, and he has been working in aged care since 2012.
The couple had their daughter, Mckayla, in 2014 and in 2017, Mr Chisengalumbwe became an Enrolled Nurse at the Lerwin Nursing Home in Murray Bridge.
The Federal Government identified aged care workers and nurses in the top ten jobs that require a new influx of trained workers in the next five years due to critical workforce and skills shortages.