Digital Disrupt(ion) and visas
An interesting story appeared today in the Australian press.
The details are in this press article, however the story focuses on Chris Bailey, who along with an Australian business partner set up a successful and fast growing start up buisness called Disrupt in Sydney. This was before he was deported from Australia for lying about completing his mandatory three month fruit picking stint in order to extend his working holiday visa.
It, again, reinforces the problem that Australia has with innovation and visas. In particular how does the Australian visa program support innovation and start ups. In an increasingly competitive international, innovative and digital world, it forces us to consider:
- What can help Australia drive young entrepreneurial international talent to the country?
- Why doesn’t the current visa system support the people we need to accomplish this – be it through skilled visas, employer sponsored visas or the business innovation and investment programs?
Compliance v vision
Whilst most people are of the view that visa compliance is important to the integrity of the visa system, there comes a time when common sense and vision must prevail. There needs to be a solution for someone willing to put their hand in their pocket – figuratively and/or literally – with what appears to be a track record of starting and managing small innovative businesses.
At present there is no such option available to individuals with this talent. They need to either meet relatively stringent criteria in the business innovation and investment program, usually beyond the means of innovative young business people, or they are lost to Australia before they get there. Alternately they need to be sponsored by a business and be paid a market rate salary for the position that is held. A not insignificant cost for any business, let alone one at the start of their journey.
A new visa pathway is needed
So what’s the solution? At this point in time it is difficult to outline a complete visa solution. However a temporary residency visa that encourages people with a combination of the below could be considered.
- proven entrepreneurial skills or start up activity (as manager or director)
- college or university training in a technology/digital/computer science/design/engineering course
- proficient english language skills
- evidence of sufficient assets or nomination by an Australian resident/citizen business owner/director or support from a federal or state/territory authority
- adequate health cover
As a follow up to this visa there should be a clear pathway to permanent residency, or a visa extension if the start up is tracking well. This should not be done at the expense of those business people and investors who meet the current criteria, however it should be incorporated into the overall program.
Unfortunatley it would not help Chris, but it could provide a catalyst for the next Chris to find a way to get to Australia and either stay, or leave a legacy for locals to continue with.
Disrupt have also commented on it as well via Linkedin.