Boosting health and disability worker numbers during the coronavirus

The Government is making further changes to student visa work conditions to help boost frontline health efforts to tackle coronavirus.

International students studying relevant medical courses will be exempt from the usual 40-hour per fortnight work limit, if they are working in support of coronavirus health efforts and at the direction of the relevant health authority. International students currently working for registered disability service providers will also be exempt.

Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge said the measures build on the Prime Minister's announcement last month that international student nurses would be exempt from the restrictions.

"We are ensuring state and territory health services have the people they need to continue testing for and treating coronavirus cases so we can stay on top of this crisis," Mr Tudge said.

"We're also ensuring we have enough workers to support those with disability, as many in the current workforce are required to quarantine or take time out to care for their own families."

"Around 8,000 international students already work as aged and disability carers and allowing them to work more hours makes sense."

Minister for Health Greg Hunt said the changes would ensure Australia has the health workforce available to continue our coronavirus success.

"Australia is leading the world in our health response, but we need to keep testing and ensure our health system is prepared for potential future outbreaks like we have seen in other countries," Mr Hunt said.

"Particularly as we begin to restart elective surgeries, states and territories will need as many health workers on standby as possible."

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme Stuart Robert said the additional hours for students in the disability sector builds on existing measures already enacted for the pandemic.

"The plan supports the extensive measures all governments have enacted to support the safety of Australians with disability, NDIS participants and providers, reducing their exposure to the virus and maintaining essential supports," Mr Robert said.

"The Australian Government has injected over $1 billion into supporting Australians with disability during this difficult time, and announced measures to ensure NDIS participants have access to essential supports, and to give NDIS service providers some financial relief to help them remain viable and retain their staff.'

The measures for the disability sector only apply to international students already in Australia and already employed. Businesses that need to bring on new employees should still attempt to hire Australian workers first.

The measures for international students enrolled in medical university or vocational courses apply to students working under the direction of State or Territory authorities.

They are temporary measures and will be reviewed regularly.

Similar arrangements introduced for students working in supermarkets will end on 1 May, now that businesses have had time to recruit and train Australian workers. Workers in the aged care sector can continue working extra hours.

Employers are still required to abide by all relevant Australian workplace laws. Students have the same rights under Australian workplace law as all other employees.

More information is available on the Department of Home Affairs website.