Who Will Care for Grandma? Older Women, Parent Visas, and Australia's Migration Program
Australian Feminist Law Journal, Vol. 42(2), p. 297-319, 2016
Posted: 22 May 2017
Date Written: 2016
Despite its substantial size and significance, the operation of Australia’s regular migration program has attracted relatively little feminist legal interest. In the last 30 years the migration program has shifted towards prioritising working-age migrants with a high level of skills (deemed to be) in demand in Australia, but this emphasis on the immediate needs of the labour market has not been investigated in terms of its implications for diverse groups of women. The decline and (near-)abolition of so-called non-contributory parent visas in 2014 is a recent example that particularly affects older women wishing to migrate to join their children. The migration of parents, whether it is motivated by the provision of care for grandchildren or their own future care needs, raises questions about care, a key feminist issue. As the main burden of care has traditionally been placed on women, parent visas offer an important starting point for assessing the gender dimensions of the migration program. With the help of critical feminist perspectives on migration, ageing, as well as transnational families and care, this article starts to critique some of the gender inequalities embedded in Australia’s migrant selection process and its calculations which serve to exclude, among others, older women. After interrogating the problematic assumptions about and treatment of parent migration, the article suggests that the migration program raises difficult feminist questions about solidarity, transnational family life, and the maintenance of caregiving links across borders.
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