A Year in Review
Starting the New Year is all about new beginnings and learning from the past. Here is a quick look at what happened in the year 2013.
Law Council Welcomed Changes to the Anti-Discrimination Bill
Law Council of Australia President, Mr Joseph Catanzariti announced the Council is attempting to make changes to the Anti-Discrimination Bill. The changes included considering subjective factors to determine if specific conduct is considered discriminatory and whether it is considered to be justifiable conduct defence. Another major concern was whether the over protection against discrimination might lead to the overlap of human rights such as the freedom of expression.
Government transferred boat people to Nauru
Boat arrivals in Darwin were transferred directly to Nauru where the immigrants had their immigration, Customs and quarantine clearance processed. The people selected in this group were chosen according to their circumstances and how they could contribute to Australia. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) executed the recommendation of the report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers. Their principal is that people who travel to Australia by boat should receive no advantage.
The Student Visa Scam
The DIAC warned international students in Australia of a scam involving individuals impersonating DIAC officers who require payment because the student may have breached their visa conditions. These scammers target students who have few work rights according to their visa restrictions; they panic the students by sending fine notices or penalty payments. If you have any information regarding this incidents report to the relevant police station or to the Immigration Dob-In Line on 1800 009 623.
DEHAG replaced by the Immigration Health Advisory Group (IHAG)
The IHAG was established to give independent advice on the asylum seekers’ health needs. The group; led by former Defence Medical Officer, DR Paul Alexander included medical professionals, psychiatrists and psychologists. The IHAG aims to accommodate to the needs of people in detention, asylum seekers and humanitarian visa holders.
Uruguay Holiday and Work Visa Begins
With the arrangement of the Holiday and Work visas, people from the age of 18-30 in Australia and Uruguay have the opportunity to work and visit in each other’s countries. The visa strengthens international relations and develops the economic links between the two countries. This arrangement allows Australians and Uruguayans who are university-educated to work and holiday in both countries for up to 12 months.
457 Visa goes under review
The Migration Council released a report detailing that the 457 visa program had positive feedback and wanted to make it more permanent. “Four out of five multinational companies are using 457 visa holders to train and develop Australian workers,” Ms Carla Wilshire, CEO of the Migration Council Australia, said. “The survey results reinforce that skills transfer and knowledge from 457 visa holders play an important role in building Australia’s human capital.”
Inquiry into the framework and Operation of the 457 Visa
Representatives of the Law Council of Australia attended the senate hearing regarding the role of the 457 Visa. Principal Lawyer of Immigration Solutions, Anne O’Donoghue was one of the three representatives; she was invited to comment on the 457 Visa and her exact expertise in the program. Various examples were presented to demonstrate the benefits and limitations of the 457 program. This would eventually lead to the decision of whether or not the visa program should be altered.
The Coalition addresses the 457 Visa
On the road to the election, the labour party and the coalition both addressed the issues of the 457 visa and what changes they would make. It was the coalition that promised to exclude minor crimes from the visa applications but also stated serious crimes would be punishable by a cancellation of the visa and the individual would have to return to their country.
The Arrangement with Papua New Guinea’s Asylum Seekers
The Australian Government announced a Regional Settlement Arrangement with Papua New Guinea (PNG). The Arrangement detailed that from the 19th July 2013, asylum seekers arriving by boat would be transferred to PNG for processing and resettlement.
Changes to the 457 Visa
Mid last year there were a growing number of applicants for the 457 Visa. As a result, there was the issue that many skilled workers would enter Australia seeking employment without ensuring there were vacancies first. On the 1st July many changes were introduced to counteract this problem:
- Employers have to indicate how many workers they are going to sponsor
- Applicants have to take a formal skills assessment
- Visa holders are required to work within 90 days of their arrival in Australia
- Licensing, registration and membership is mandatory
- When a nomination is lodged, the English language requirement must be met
The Introduction of the Visa 416 Program
The Seasonal Worker program, known as Visa 416 was established to help the economic development of the participating countries. This program has provided Australian employers in the horticulture industry, the ability to employ workers from selected Pacific Island countries and Timor – Leste, provided there is not enough local labour to fulfil seasonal demand. There are opportunities for youth exchange, cultural enrichment and community benefits.
UN says Australia violates Human Rights
Australia had been found guilty for violating over 150 clauses of international law over the unspecified detention of almost 50 refugees. The refugees had been in detention for more than four years and the federal government ordered them to be released. 46 cases of illegal detention and 46 cases of inhumane treatment had been found. After the UN declared Australia had violated Human Rights, the refugees were released.
The Return of the Howard Regime
Soon after Australian Prime minister Tony Abbott was elected into power, the coalition decided to re-introduce John Howard’s regime of temporary protection visas for asylum seekers. This was to strengthen Australia’s borders and allow refugees to be provided with protection but not for an extensive amount of time.
Outstanding Young Lawyers recognised at Australian Young Lawyer of the Year Award
The Law Council of Australia announced the winners of the Annual Australian Young Lawyer of the Year Award. South Australian Barrister, Stephen Mitchell won the individual category and the Organisation award was given to the New South Wales Young Lawyers. The award celebrates the achievements of young lawyers and recognises their contributions.
IBA Annual Conference in Boston
The Annual Conference of the IBA was held in Boston from the 6th-11th October. In this conference legal associates discussed various issues in law through different talks and programs. Jelle Kroes and ISL’s Anne O’Donoghue were both co-chairs of the session, “Following the money trail – strategic positioning in the global investment market.” There was a focus on general trends in global policy developments and a discussion of the world economies competing to attract entrepreneurs and investors to their jurisdictions. The discussion was based on the use of advantages such as permanent residence and minimum capital thresholds to lure these investors and entrepreneurs.
Indigenous Lawyer and Indigenous Law Student of the Year
Indigenous Lawyer of the Year was presented to David Woodroffe and Indigenous Law Student of the Year was awarded to Jill Gujlas. Woodroffe worked for over ten years in various Aboriginal legal agencies and is the Managing Solicitor for the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency. Gujlas is a law student from Griffith University and won the award due to her exceptional academic achievements.
Biennial Global Immigration Conference in London
From the 21st-22nd November, co-chairs Graeme Kirk and Julia Onslow-Cole hosted the 6th Biennial Immigration Conference at the Mayfair Hotel in London. This conference gathered immigration lawyers, policy makers, HR Directors and academics from all around the world. The two days were utilised to discuss any topics and discussions encompassing aspects of immigration laws and policies. Anne O’Donoghue spoke about Entrepreneur/investor programmes and economic citizenship in Australia.
The Labour Market Testing (LMT) introduced for Visa 457
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) introduced Labour market testing as a compulsory requirement for all sponsors who wish to appoint a position under the 457 visa program. The LMT requires 457 sponsors to ensure that there is no suitably qualified and experienced Australian citizen or permanent resident before they nominate a position to an international worker. Exemptions apply to some skill level 1 or skill level 2 occupations such as accountants, developer programmers or customer service managers. An applicant may also be exempt in the event of a major disaster or international obligations.
Death of Nelson Mandela
The Death of Human Rights Activist, Nelson Mandela was a devastating blow to the world. He was respected and loved by many people in South Africa and around the world. It was his memorial that had brought leaders from all around the world. They sat together united by their mourning for a hero. President Obama and Prime minister Castro even shook hands, a major step towards civility between Cuba and the US.
Abbott establishes Korea Free Trade Agreement
The free trade agreement is a great method of improving international relations and the Australian economy. Abbott has promised to have established three free trade agreements. His first was recently signed with Korea and as agreed, a great percentage of tariffs will be removed on Australian exports including wheat, beef, sugar and manufactured goods. In turn, the tariffs will be greatly reduced on Australian automotive suppliers. Australian services including education, legal and financial services will gain new market opportunities as a result of this agreement.
Protection Visas Capped
Australian Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison capped offshore protection visas for onshore applicants to 1650.