Government ‘not doing enough’ to help returning emigrants

Survey: 98 out of 100 Irish professionals in Australia dissatisfied with assistance provided to help people move back

Just 2 per cent of respondents to a survey of Irish professionals in Australia believe enough is being done to encourage emigrants to return to Ireland.

A survey published today of 100 members of the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce found almost 80 per cent either definitely wanted to move back to Ireland, or were undecided about staying in Australia.

When asked whether they believed the Irish Government was doing enough to help migrants return, however, 98 per cent of respondents said no.

The IACC said the results showed that while online resources for emigrants introduced as part of the Government’s diaspora policy in March were welcome, “the message is simply not getting through to the vast majority of Irish diaspora in Australia interested in the opportunity to return”.

At the publication of the diaspora policy in March, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said emigration had “a devastating impact on our economy as we lose the input of talent and energy. We need these people at home. And we will welcome them.”

Minister of State for Skills and Innovation Damien English said last week that Ireland needs to attract 100,000 people back to live here in the next two years, adding that the availability of skilled workers is of increasing importance as the economic recovery gathers pace.

“The Government must follow through on the stated aims and objectives of the Global Irish Policy or risk alienating a large number of the Irish Australian diaspora,” the IACC said in their report on the survey.

Six in ten respondents said Government assistance would be “very important” or “somewhat important” if they decided to move back to Ireland.

Out of the 100 respondents, 46 had Australian citizenship, 30 had permanent residency, 22 were on employer-sponsored 457 visas, and just 2 per cent were on working holiday visas. Three in four were at middle management level or above.

Eighty-nine said they were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with life in Australia. Twenty would like to return to Ireland within the next year, with just 13 believing they have a realistic chance of doing so. Seventy-six hope to return within the next five years, with 60 believing they will be able to do so.

Job opportunities would be the most important factor for 64 of the respondents if they were to decide to move home. Family, quality of life and homesickness were also prominent factors.

The IACC made nine recommendations in their report outlining measures to better assist returning Irish migrants, including tax incentives for employers recruiting Irish from abroad, tax breaks on relocation costs for returning emigrants, and tax exemptions for those who wish to return to set up a business.

The IACC will be implementing a new “returning migrants programme” to provide practical support and information to help Irish people prepare for a move back home, focusing on access to services. It will also develop a social and business network in Ireland for returning emigrants to help ease the transition.

"The majority of respondents felt that they would have to wait longer than they wanted before a return was realistic," said IACC treasurer Tom Mullarkey.

“It is our hope that by taking the practical step of designing and delivering the Returning Migrants Program that we may make a positive contribution to bringing their aspirations closer to reality more quickly.”

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