We’ve had a lot to think about this week, specifically regarding 457 Visas. If you’ve never heard of the term before, no doubt you’re fully aware of it now. More importantly, many of us have come to learn how important said 457 has become to our games industry, and the universal disappointment that’s followed the announcement since.

For those of you that missed it (or were distracted by Star Wars still), Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a new Visa program on Tuesday, abolishing the previous 457 program and replacing it with two new and more restricted editions of the program. 95,000 people are currently listed under the 457 program and, whilst they won’t be affected by the new system, the key reason for the changes revolves around providing more opportunities for Australians.

“Australian workers must have priority for jobs in our country, foreign workers add value to the nation but they must supplement and not replace hard-working Australians” – Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull

Almost immediately, a number of important sectors expressed concern over the decision, from Hospitality to Health to local IT firms and Start-Ups. Others, such as those within the mining sector, are all for the changes. But what about our games industry?

To answer that, some of our most important and industry defining members turned to Twitter to share their frustrations and provide an honest look from their perspective:

That’s just scratching the surface of the response, and no doubt this issue will continue to be talked about for some time. It does beg the question, if so many skills are missing from our local industry, shouldn’t we be focused on providing education to fill that gap?

As someone who moved here with my own family back in 1990 from Ireland, I can see why so many consider Australia as such a great place to live and find a place in this crazy world. To have these changes, along with stricter guidelines for the citizenship test, suddenly thrust upon us is just another worrying part of a growing trend away from immigration. It’s not just about providing opportunities, it’s about bringing in those who can provide to a nation that has grown from that very source.

And look, I’m all for providing more opportunities for local workers, but when said local workers don’t have the skills or necessary qualifications to get the job done? Clearly there’s far more involved than just removing the current Visa system.

We will see soon enough as to how these changes will ultimately restrict the games industry, among the many others listed above. Have you been affected by these announcements? Are you a publisher or developer with staff currently on Visas? Are you a local Aussie who feels left out of the local industry? Shout out in the comments below, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

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