Irish emigrants living in Australia may now be seeking to return home.

According to the Irish Australian Support Association of Queensland (IASAQ), there has been “a huge increase" in the number of people contacting it about returning to Ireland "in the coming months.”

Orlagh Mc Hugh, co-ordinator at the IASAQ, said: "There are a lot of people having babies and would rather have the family support around them and put their children through the Irish education system.

"Another factor is that work seems to be drying up, especially in the construction and mining industries, or with the rates not being as high as they have been the last couple of years."

Joe O'Brien, Irish Abroad Networking Officer at Crosscare, traveled across the country last month visiting different Irish Australian organizations.

"I got a very good sense of what is going on and there were a lot of questions about returning and particularly about welfare and housing," he told the Sunday Independent.

"It's pretty clear that there is a movement back from those who left within the last seven to eight years."

However, those considering the move back to Ireland have several concerns, most significant are access to housing and social welfare, say organizations offering support to thousands of Irish currently residing in Australia.

Other concerns include: sustainable employment opportunities, commuting services, access to health care and access to free third-level education.

"The Government are calling people back but we would be worried that people would be disappointed about what faces them in terms of employment and housing," said O'Brien. "People are generally trying to move back to the areas they are from, provided there are jobs, but others are looking at Dublin."

He added that Crosscare is concerned that the Central Bank's new mortgage rules will hinder these plans. 

"If they have already purchased a property abroad and are thinking of selling they won't get first-time buyer preference here, they'll be classified as a second-time buyer and face higher deposit requirements," he said.

"We're not sure how big an issue it is for people yet, but it needs to be flagged.”

O'Brien added that Irish living in Australia have a "huge misconception" about welfare restrictions for returning emigrants.

"Over the past few years the Habitual Residency Condition (HRC) has made it more amenable for returning emigrants to come back and access the welfare system," he said, adding that "there shouldn't be an issue" for those who lived in Ireland up until the recession as long as they can prove that "Ireland is now their home and they have no intentions to leave again."

Deciding officers from the Department of Social Protection, who will have the power to review and judge these applications, may ask returning emigrants to provide proof that they’ve finished jobs abroad or terminated their lease. Family connections, the amount of time spent abroad and an individual’s future intentions may also be examined.

Dr David Ralph, assistant professor of sociology at Trinity College Dublin, says the government needs to amend the conditions of the HRC.

"I have heard of incidents where people cannot make a welfare claim even though they've only been out of the country for a relatively short period of time. There needs to be a finer distinction between those who have been away for long, long periods and those who have been away for shorter periods," he said.

Despite the recent uptick in inquiries, O’Brien remains skeptical about the number of emigrants who will return.

"It's not a move that will be based on a good news story – they will want to hear it from the ground at home that it's definitely picking up at a steady pace," he said.

Strong advice for returning emigrants as govt pushes them to come home.Photocall Ireland