FIRST they came for our builders, now the Australian government wants to lure hundreds of Irish nurses Down Under with permanent job contracts.
Officials from New South Wales are embarking on a recruitment drive to hire up to 200 Irish nurses.
The move is part of a programme over the next four years to recruit 1,400 nursing professionals as part of a massive expansion programme by the Australian health services.
The jobs in the largest state in Australia, which includes Sydney, are being offered in the areas of mental health, midwifery and intensive care.
Margaret Cox, director of ICE Group, told the Herald that Ireland is top of the hit list for nursing and midwifery bosses.
"The training system in Ireland is second to none.
"There is a very strong preference for Irish and British trained nurses -- particularly the personality, professionalism and attitude of the Irish nurses," she said.
"These are permanent jobs they are offering. It's very attractive for anyone looking at making a lifestyle change," she said.
"Nurses may go for four years to gain incredible experience and if they choose to come back to Ireland, there is the possibility of promotion when they return."
Representatives from New South Wales health departments will be here on September 6 and 7 and come armed with permanent job contracts.
"There will be 'on the day' job offers," Ms Cox said.
"There are a couple of things you need to demonstrate -- references, an up-to-date CV, a transcript of exam results from college so we can prepare it with them first."
New South Wales is also recruiting nurses for a new 135-bed high-security mental health facility in Sydney.
Australia is currently enjoying an economic boom and wages in New South Wales are among the highest in the region.
"Australia hasn't been affected by the recession, it's a different environment to here, particularly in the health services," Ms Cox said.
More information about the recruitment drive can be found on www.icegroup.ie