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British nurse told to 'take English test' before she can work in Australia


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A British migrant who wants to work as a nurse in Australia has been told she must take an English language test before her application will be considered.

'Are you joking?' Mrs Julie Dutton asked officials. 'I'm from England. I was educated there. I worked there. I speak fluent English.'


But politically correct officials in Sydney told her that unless she took the test, proving she understood and could speak English, she couldn't be considered for the job.

Mrs Dutton's revelations come the day after Australia announced it was cutting its foreign migrant intake by 14 per cent to help protect jobs for Australian workers.


But Mrs Dutton's problems arose before the migrant cuts were announced.

She and her Australian husband moved to Sydney from the UK last year, where she had been working as a nurse.

Three weeks ago, she applied to have her British nursing qualifications recognised in New South Wales - and she prepared herself for differences that might arise in the way things are done in her profession in the UK and in Australia.

What she did not expect was to be challenged on her understanding of the English language, she told Australia's ABC news network.

'I was told the application could not be processed because I had not taken the English language exam and now I have to wait until June before I can apply again and when I will be able to take the test to prove I can speak English.

'I didn't even know that you needed an English language test and I said: "Are you sure? I am from England, I was educated in the UK and I have worked in the UK. I speak fluent English."


'And they said: "There are no exemptions from this now as of the 1st of January."'


Mrs Dutton did not point out the obvious - that the fact she was even able to hold a conversation with officials in the English language was evidence she could speak it.

Last night, the Premier of New South Wales, Mr Nathan Rees, promised to look into her case - but he admitted that on the face of it, 'it sounds absurd'.

The State's conservative opposition told the ABC that it was a case of 'bureaucracy gone mad'.


Yesterday it was announced that Australia is set to protect its workers during the looming recession by slashing its intake of skilled migrants for the first time in a decade.

The 14 per cent cut in immigration comes on a wave of concern that skilled foreign workers could stoke resentment by taking jobs at a time of rising unemployment.

One expert slammed the situation as 'madness' after mine workers in Queensland and Western Australia found that their positions were being filled by foreign workers.


Immigration Minister Chris Evans, who removed hairdressers and cooks from Australia's critical occupation shortage list at Christmas, said he was now also deleting foreign bricklayers, plumbers, carpenters and electricians from the list that guides skilled migration intake.

Further cuts were likely in the May 12 budget, he said, leaving only health occupations, engineering and information technology skills as needed skills.

'What we'll look to do is run a smaller programme and keep the capacity to make sure we can bring in any labour we might need as the year develops,' Evans said.

A recession is looming in the country, with the centre-left government expecting unemployment to reach seven percent midway through next year.

Australia is also due to hold an election in late 2010. Immigration has been a charged issue in past polls, particularly following economic downturn.

A leading migration expert, former government official Bob Kinnaird, said record recent migrant arrivals in a fast shrinking job market were leading to 'highly combustible' conditions in regional areas, where many new arrivals had settled.

In Queensland and Western Australia retrenched mine workers returning to their home towns found that jobs there had been filled by foreign workers, sparking resentment, Kinnaird said.

'You could say in those last few months that madness has reigned,' he told the Brisbane Times newspaper.

The ruling Labor Party, with its roots in the workers' movement, should have acted sooner to cut migration as economic conditions cooled to lance any voter backlash and ease tensions in critical country voting areas, he said.

But the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the government needed to be wary of tinkering with immigration, as many skilled employment areas still faced a worker shortage and lack of workers could crimp an economic recovery.

'We would have preferred a status quo position,' chamber Chief Executive Peter Anderson said.

Australia is a nation of immigrants. The country has been enjoying a boom in new arrivals for the past decade to help meet labour shortages as a China-fuelled mining boom drove unemployment rates to 30-year lows.

But those days are over now. Six of Australia's major trading partners are now in recession and economic growth has stalled.


The country moved a step closer to recession this month with the first contraction in eight years and the economy shrinking by 0.5 per cent.

Australia's jobless rate spiked to 5.2 per cent from 4.8 per cent last month with the biggest impact felt by full-time workers. Some economists fear unemployment levels could go as high as 10 per cent.

A government minister said today the immigration intake next year would be cut to 115,000, from 133,500 in 2008-09.


The government hopes its recently announced A$42 billion (£27.5 billion) stimulus package, including cash handouts and infrastructure spending, will help the economy through the downturn.



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Saw this on the news, I don't see the massive deal. If we turned around and said "Oh, it's ok, they're from the UK/US and they don't need to take the test" I'm sure there'd be an article or movement calling the Government racist for testing the English of people with English as their second language but not those speaking it as it's first.


And yeah, times are tough but I'd say in comparison to elsewhere, we're not doing all that bad. :D

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It's a good idea though, I mean if you want to do well in our country you have to speak some of our main language since there's hardly any other language used here apart from the Italians that speak Italian at home to each other, etc


But yeah I don't see why she's making a fuss. It wouldn't be that hard.

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I had to do an English test too when I applied to a college. They made everyone take it no matter if English was their first language or not. It was extremely easy though, a bit of a waste of time and paper if you ask me.


And I bet you did better than many of the English applicants!!:P

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When I enrolled into college, everybody had to take some really basic tests in Maths/English & ICT, regardless of what you got at GCSE or what your doing.


Doing an English test isn't going to kill you now


Unless you happen to be a hoodie or a professional footballer

................................... :rolleyes:

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