Author Archives: aesadmin

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Somebody’s watching you and it could lead to better wages or deportation

The Fairwork ombudsman is trying to make ‘inroads’ into migrant communities through its newly appointed team of Community Engagement Officers, whose aim is to protect foreign workers on the one hand and help deport illegal workers they find along the way, on the other.

The FWO says its recently launched program aims to “foster new relationships with international student bodies and multicultural communities…to ensure migrant workers, overseas workers, international students and employers are aware of their workplace rights and responsibilities,” declared the statement from the FWO.

The program will also be used to uncover illegal workers. In June, the Fair Work Ombudsman joined with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) to form Taskforce Cadena to jointly combat the incidence of fraud and exploitation involving foreign workers in Australia. One of the stated aims of Taskforce Cadena is to utilise intelligence from a range of sources to identify and investigate major targets of interest.

The FWO statement noted that visa-holders now account for 11 per cent of all requests for assistance received by the Fair Work Ombudsman. Last financial year, the Fair Work Ombudsman recovered $1.6 million in underpaid wages and entitlements for visa-holders – up from $1.1 million in 2013-14.

FWO Ombudsman, Ms Natalie James said that the Fair Work Ombudsman has been active in this area for many years and understands that visa holders can face a number of barriers to understanding and enforcing their workplace rights.  “Youth, language and cultural differences, concerns about their visa status all contribute to these barriers and can also make them more vulnerable to exploitation,” she said.

“We are particularly concerned about the treatment of visa-holders by labour-hire contractors operating in the horticulture and poultry processing sectors. We are also conscious that exploitation of visa-holders is a persistent issue in Australia in industries known to employ high numbers of overseas workers, such as hospitality, cleaning, convenience stores and trolley collectors.”

Source: Migration Alliance

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Visa Cancellation: Kicked Out Of Australia After 65 Years Of Residency

We are all familiar with the old saying that: “We are haunted by the ghosts of our past”.

This well-worn phrase has been shown to have considerable truth and force recently. There has been story after story in the news media about high profile people being caught up in allegations of sexual abuse involving decades-old incidents. One need look no further than the stories that have been reported about allegations relating to former British Prime Minister Ted Heath and to the television performers Rolf Harris and Bill Cosby. And of course the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has unearthed accounts of incidents that occurred many years ago.

These types of stories are not only pervasive in the news media. In fact, just at the end of last week, on 7 August 2015, a decision was handed down by the Federal Court of Australia that demonstrates, very powerfully, that there really is no escape from the ghosts of one’s past where sexual offences are concerned, and that events that may have seemed to have been buried and forgotten can come back to haunt a person with an absolute vengeance!

In this case, Cotterill v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection(2015) FCA 802, the Court affirmed a decision by the Minister to cancel the “absorbed person” visa of a man who had been living in Australia for approximately 65 years due to crimes he had committed many (about 40) years previously.

The basis of the visa cancellation was a series of sexual offences that Mr Cotterill had committed against his own children in the 1970s.  The most recent of the offences took place in approximately 1976. Mr Cotterill was not prosecuted for these offences until about 2012 (more than 30 years after the events). He pleaded guilty to 5 separate charges of sexual offences in November 2012 (when he was about 71 years old) and was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment on each charge. Each of the sentences was partially suspended. The ultimate result of the prosecutions was that Mr Cotterill was ordered to serve 3 months in jail.

On the basis of these convictions, the Minister found that Mr Cotterill did not satisfy the “character test”, and thus proceeded with action to cancel his absorbed person visa. Mr Cotterill was released from prison in February 2013. He was informed by the Department in September 2014 that it was considering the cancellation of his visa. The Minister cancelled the visa on 22 April 2015, and Mr Cotterill was then taken into immigration detention.  Thus, by the time his case was decided in the Federal Court, Mr Cotterill had been in immigration detention for a longer period of time than he was in prison for the underlying criminal offences.

The Minister cancelled Mr Cotterill’s visa on the basis of the convictions for the sexual offences, notwithstanding that certain “countervailing” circumstances were present in the case. These included the fact that Mr Cotterill was seen to have “long and deep ties to Australia”, resulting from his having lived here for a period of 64 years (since he migrated to Australia as a 7 year old child in 1950), his having a partner of 30 years standing who was unwell and required care from him, and his having a great many family members living in Australia.  The “countervailing” factors also included that Mr Cotterill was himself in poor health, had spent 38 years living in the Australian community since the time of the offences without committing further offences, and had also lived in the community for 2 years since the time of his release from prison.

Notwithstanding these “countervailing factors”, the Minister saw fit to cancel Mr Cotterill’s visa on the grounds that the sexual offences, having been perpetrated against his children when they were minor children, were “very serious” and on the basis that, notwithstanding the fact that the risk that Mr Cotterill might “re-offend” was considered to be “low”, it could not be said that there was “no” risk at all that he might re-offend.

Mr Cotterill’s challenge in the Federal Court to the cancellation of his visa was based on the claim that the Minister’s decision was “unreasonable”, in the sense that there was no “evident and intelligible justification” for the Minister’s findings that the offences were “serious” and that there was a risk (and not “no risk”) that he might re-offend.

In reviewing the visa holder’s claims, Justice Pagone of the Federal Court followed the recent decision of the Full Court in the case of Moana v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection (2015) FCAFC 54 concerning the applicable legal standard for review of a visa cancellation decision.

In the Moana case, the Full Court held that it is mandatory for the Minister to consider the risk of harm to the Australian community before cancelling a visa on character grounds (in other words, failure to consider the question of “risk” would amount to “jurisdictional error”). However, while the Court also held in Moana  that in most cases it will be “centrally relevant” to an evaluation of the “risk of harm” for the Minister to consider the likelihood that the visa holder might engage in future conduct that might cause harm, it is not  mandatory for the Minister to consider this factor. Further, in Moana, the Full Court held that certain criminal conduct may be sufficiently serious in and of itself that it warrants and justifies a Ministerial decision to cancel a visa on character grounds, and that no further inquiry need necessarily be taken in such serious criminal cases as to whether there is a likelihood that the visa holder will re-offend or otherwise engage in harmful conduct in the future.

In the particular circumstances of the Cotterill case, Justice Pagone of the Federal Court  concluded that the Minister’s decision, while one that might possibly be considered to be “harsh”, was not one that was “unreasonable” in the sense of not having an “evident and intelligible justification”.

Justice Pagone took the view that it was open to the Minister to make a finding that the sexual offences that the visa holder had been convicted of were “serious”, notwithstanding the fact that the sentencing judge in the underlying criminal case had characterized the offences as being at the “bottom end of the scale of sexual offences”.  Justice Pagone held that it was not unreasonable for the Minister to determine that the offences were “serious” due to the fact that they were of a sexual nature, had been committed against young children, and were, by their very nature, harmful to the victims.

Likewise, Justice Pagone ruled that it was not unreasonable for the Minister to arrive at the conclusion that there was a risk (albeit a low one), that the visa holder might re-offend.  Thus, Justice Pagone found that, notwithstanding the fact that Mr Cottterill had not committed further offences either in the 38 years since the time of the offences, or in the period of time since he had been released from prison, and notwithstanding that he had not been required to undertake a course for sex offenders while in prison, it was open to the Minister to reject a finding that there was “no” risk that the visa holder might re-offend.  Ultimately, the Court held that the fact that the visa holder had committed offences in the past was reason enough to support a conclusion that there was “a” risk of future re-offending, however low that risk might actually be.

This case demonstrates, among other things, that the Department and the Minister are apparently determined to pursue visa cancellations where visa holders have committed serious criminal offences and have been sentenced to 12 months in prison or more. That appears to be especially likely where the underlying offences are of a “sexual” nature (and thus inherently serious). In addition, it also appears evident from this case that the Department will take visa cancellation actions even in cases where the visa holder has lived in Australia for many years and has “long and deep” ties to the country, as Mr Cotterill did.

The case once again illustrates that non-citizens who commit serious criminal offences are very likely to suffer the “double sanction” of being imprisoned and then deported (and in fact, where the actual time in prison served is relatively short, the loss of the right to remain in Australia may operate as the more severe of the two forms of sanction or “punishment”).  As shown by the Cotterill decision, living in Australia from the time of early childhood, and being of advanced and in poor health may not be enough to rescue a visa holder from this consequence!

Source: Migration Alliance News Articles

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Working in partnership to combat human trafficking and slavery in Australia: Australian Federal Police

Human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices such as servitude and forced labour are complex crimes and a violation of human rights. Around the world women, men and children are trafficked for a wide range of exploitative purposes in many different industries, including agriculture, construction, hospitality, cleaning, sex service, domestic work as well as for organ transplants and forced marriage.

While these crimes have different elements and may or may not involve the movement of a person across an international border, they all involve the manipulation of complex relationships between the offender and the victim for the purpose of exploitation. This conduct can severely undermine a person’s personal freedom and their ability to make choices for themselves.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP), along with other government agencies and non-government organisations, work to address the full cycle of human trafficking and slavery from recruitment to reintegration and give equal weight to the critical areas of prevention, enforcement and victim support. As part of this approach, the AFP continually seeks the support of critical partners, including stakeholders in Australia’s migration industry.

This article provides an insight into human trafficking in Australia and details how you can help unite with the AFP in the fight against human trafficking and slavery.

Human trafficking in Australia:

Australia is primarily a destination country for people trafficked from Asia, particularly Thailand, Korea, China, the Philippines and Malaysia.  A total of 235 suspected victims of human trafficking and slavery have received support under Australia’s Support for Trafficked People Program (STPP). Women account for the majority of these victims, with most having worked in the commercial sex industry. Recently, increasing numbers of men have been identified as victims of forced labour.  Victims have entered Australia under a range of different visas, including student, working holiday and 457 subclasses.

Understanding the nature and extent of human trafficking in Australia is an ongoing challenge. This is due to a number of factors, including the clandestine nature of these practices and the difficulty in identifying victims. Often these difficulties are compounded by the reluctance of victims to seek assistance, which exists for many reasons, including the use of threats, coercion or deception by an offender to keep a person in a situation of exploitation and isolation. Examples of this conduct include threats of deportation, physical harm to the victim or their families, or the requirement to pay off a significant debt. Migrant workers have high levels of vulnerability due to many factors including a lack of local support networks, poor English language skills and limited knowledge of Australian workplace laws and protections.

Indicators of trafficking:

The following points may indicate a person is a victim of human trafficking, slavery or slavery-like practices. If you are concerned about a person’s welfare, you could use these points as a guide to seeking information on their situation:

  • the person appears to be servicing a large debt to their employer or a third party;
  • the person does not possess their passport which is with their employer or a third party;
  • the person does not have an employment contract/agreement, or they do not understand the terms or conditions of their employment;
  • the person is unable to terminate their employment at any time;
  • the person is subject to different or less favourable working conditions than other employees because they are from overseas;
  • the person never or rarely leaves their accommodation for non-work reasons;
  • the person is living at the place of work or another place owned or controlled by their employer;
  • the person has little or no money or no access to their earnings;
  • the person has physical injuries which may have resulted for assault, harsh treatment or unsafe work practices;
  • the person’s activities are controlled by their employer, who does not want or allow the worker to socialise with others;
  • the person works excessively long hours and has few, if any, days off; and
  • the person regularly moves between different workplaces, including interstate.

Referral pathways:

The above indicators in isolation may not be enough to establish human trafficking, slavery or slavery-like practices, however, if you have concerns about the situation of a person or client, the safest approach may be to encourage and/or support them to seek the appropriate assistance and services.

It is important to give people who may have been trafficked information about available services as soon as possible. This should include information about how to contact the AFP, immigration department, specialist non-government organisations or how to obtain independent legal advice. Please see the contacts section below for further details.

If you are considering acting on behalf of a potential victim, such as contacting a service provider on their behalf, it is important to act in the best interests of the person.

Information about the person should only ever be disclosed to a third-party with the informed consent of the person. Informed consent is when a person freely agrees to a course of action (which may include doing nothing) after receiving and considering all the facts and information they need to make a decision.

If you consider a person to be in immediate danger always dial 000. Less urgent referrals or requests for advice can be made to the AFP. Information can also be provided anonymously.



T: 131 237


W:  Information and online offence reporting at

Australian Border Force

T: 02 6198 7559


Fair Work Ombudsman


Australian Red Cross

T: 03 9345 1800



Anti Slavery Australia

T: 02 9514 9660



Other contact points to consider include state police, the Salvation Army and worker’s unions, with these contact details and more in the Anti-Human Trafficking Community resource:

Source: Migration Alliance & AFP

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Income threshold for sc457 cooks and chefs to be lowered

The peak body of the restaurant and catering industry says it has struck a special deal with the government to make it easier to bring in overseas workers through the 457 skilled migration visa program.

The sector is currently experiencing a shortfall of 56,000 workers with Chefs, cooks and restaurant managers among the most difficult vacancies to fill, according to statement released by Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA). The R&CA is the industry’s peak body that representing some 35,000 restaurants and catering businesses across Australia.

The statement says that employment growth in the cafe, restaurant and takeaway food services sector will require an additional 43,700 jobs by November 2018. The rate of employment growth in this sector is expected to be higher than any other sector in the Australian economy, growing at around 8.5 per cent.

To deal with the ‘chronic labour shortage’ the labour agreement will lower the temporary skilled migration income threshold (TSMIT) by 10 per cent for restaurants that meet specific criteria.

“This moderate concession means it will be more feasible for operators to hire overseas workers, should they be able to demonstrate they have experienced prolonged vacancies in their businesses,” said John Hart, R&C A chief executive.

Under the Restaurant (Fine Dining) Industry Labour Agreement, businesses will be need to meet criteria to access skilled migrants, including having an la carte menu, having uniformed staff and a maître d’ and industry recognition through award programs. The agreement also outlines the skills, qualifications and English language requirements needed to work in Australia.

In the 2014-15 financial year, the accommodation and food services industry was the largest user of the 457 temporary work (skilled) visa program, with 4,350 applications granted.

Cooks, cafe and restaurant managers, and chefs ranked in the top 15 nominated occupations for primary applications in that year.

Source: Migration Alliance

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What you need to know about the new student visa processing system

Private colleges will find it easier to benefit from Australia’s booming international student business, under the new student visa system which is set to be introduced mid-2016, notes a report in The AFR. Details of the new system were broadly set out in the Coalition government’s report: Future directions for streamlined visa processing.

Under the proposed new student visa system, foreign students will have to deal with a simpler student visa regulatory environment which will see a reduction of the number of student visa subclasses from eight to just two subclasses.

Rod Camm, CEO of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET), told the Australian Financial Review that Australia’s student visa system is currently so complex that colleges attending education fairs end up spending half their time explaining the visa system instead of talking about the quality of education, noting, “Australia is open for business and visa complexities make it so hard.”

One the key concerns of many is the two tiered risk assessment framework. Under the new system applications are expected to be assessed on a single immigration risk framework: the Simplified Student Visa Framework (SSVF).  It will replace both the Streamlined Visa Processing (SVP) arrangements and Assessment Level (AL) Framework.

The SSVF will essentially rank education providers and countries each year ‘based on the immigration risk outcomes of their international students over the previous 12 month period’. Apparently it is expected to give education providers ‘a strong incentive to recruit genuine students’ and slowly squeeze out the high-risk education providers.

Universities Australia Deputy Chief Executive, Anne-Marie Lansdown noted, “We support a risk-managed approach to the student visa regime that rewards low-risk providers with access to simpler visa processes for their students.”

Source: Migration Alliance

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Fraud Alert: Multi-million dollar immigration scam uncovered

Police have seized $8.5 million worth of assets, including a 2014 Ferrari, a 2015 Range Rover, six properties and $180,000 in cash; and arrested and charged three men with a series of offences relating to an alleged immigration racket involving Australia Post delivery drivers.

The raids across Melbourne yesterday led to the arrest of Baljit ‘Bobby’ Singh, Rakesh Kumar and Mukesh Sharma who now face charges of “defrauding the Commonwealth and falsifying documents including police checks and student records, in relation to two training colleges.”

“The AFP alleges St Stephen Institute of Technology, owned by Singh and Kumar, and Symbiosis Institute of Technical Education, owned by Sharma, are not providing education, but are in fact being used to source student visas for Indian students who then go to work as posties and parcel deliverers for Australia Post through Singh’s labour hire companies. The colleges charge international students fees of up to $10,000 despite allegedly not providing any training,” said the ABC report.

The AFP estimates that students were charged over $9 million in fees while the colleges claimed approximately $2 million in government funding because of their Registered Training Organisation status.

Australia Post management has been implicated and under questioning for contracting the company which apparently had ‘at least a hundred workers…about 60 of them being on student visas’ according to  Joan Doyle, Victorian secretary of the posties’ union the CEPU. The company had 16 Auspost contracts, four of which the ABC estimates to be worth $60,000 a month.

The ABC reported that Australia Post has been previously warned about Mr Singh’s alleged underpayment of workers and use of student labour by the union for a number of years, although the company insisted that until now it had no evidence of significant wrongdoing.

Joan Doyle said the arrests raised questions about how Australia Post is monitoring its contractors and how Government money is being spent.

Following a series of stories by ABC’s 7.30 about underpayment of subcontracted delivery drivers by other labour hire companies, Australia Post announced it had broadened a compliance program for delivery contractors to include spot audits.

Source: Migration Alliance

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What it takes for a new migrant to succeed in Australia

New permanent migrants are more highly educated and have better incomes than both their predecessors and the average Australian, according to a report by the Migration Council of Australia.

Many Australians have not been keeping up with the shift in Australia’s economy away from manufacturing and resources toward a high skilled service economy that is diversified. Australia’s migration policies over the last 2 decades has helped fill this gap “enabling structural changes to unfold relatively seamlessly and supplying the human capital needed for the expansion of technology driven sectors,” noted the MCA paper.

This paper analysed the latest ABS statistical information to gain an in-depth picture of how Australia’s migration program is performing and provides an overview of the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of recent Australian immigrants.


It concluded that, “English language proficiency is the primary determinant for migrants in the labour market, more important than both work experience and formal qualifications…improving English language proficiency is the single most effective method to increase the economic benefit [for new migrants]”.

It notes that migrants with low or no language proficiency have historically faced a 10–20 per cent earnings gap. In contrast, the paper notes that newer migrants with very good English proficiency are thriving in the labour market, outperforming even their native English peers who have been in Australia for decades.

The report warned that the gap between those who can and those who cannot speak English well is growing as the economy prioritises skilled work and high tech service industries and noted that due to both skills and English language ability, there is growing gender disparity with female migrants lagging well behind.

Source: Migration Alliance

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APEC Business Travel Card to be extended from three to five years effective 1 September 2015

Facilitated entry for frequent business travellers in the Asia-Pacific region will be even more convenient with the announcement by APEC that the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) will be extended from three to five years, effective 1 September 2015.

Under the revised arrangements applications lodged on or before 31 August 2015 will be granted an ABTC valid for three years and applications lodged on or after 1 September 2015 will be granted an ABTC valid for five years.

Through a single application, the ABTC will offer bona fide businesspeople a five-year, short-stay, multiple-entry visa to other participating member economies and priority lane access at major airports in APEC economies.  The extension of validity of the ABTC will benefit business travellers who will not have to apply for a new card as frequently, with a resulting reduction in processing times.

Source: DIBP

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Travellers and clients – interruption to services 3 and 4 August 2015

Some employees of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection including the Australian Border Force, who are members of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), will take part in protected industrial action at various work sites starting from 3 August 2015.

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has given notice of work stoppages at all Department of Immigration and Border Protection work areas in all states, including international airports, client service centres, ports, container examination facilities and international mail facilities.

The Department has contingency arrangements in place to protect Australia’s borders and minimise the impact on business operations.

The Department is working closely with stakeholders to minimise the impact on the travelling public and on cargo and mail operations. We are ensuring appropriate contingencies are in place for visa and citizenship services, however, we strongly encourage passengers booked on international flights get to the airport early.

During protected industrial action, the health, safety and security of the public and our staff continues to be our priority.

The proposed enterprise agreement has been circulated to employees, and will be put to a vote as soon as the approvals required under the Australian Government Public Sector Workplace Bargaining Policy have been secured.

CPSU members will participate in a further stoppage of work:

Across Australia (except Brisbane and Northern Territory) – 8.30 am to 12.30 pm on 3 August 2015
Brisbane – 8 am to 12 pm on 3 August 2015.

Additional stoppages will also occur at international airports (local time):


3 August 2015
New South Wales

  • Sydney International Airport – 6 am to 10 am and 8 pm to 12 am



  • Melbourne International Airport – 7 am to 11 am



  • Brisbane International Airport – 6.30am to 10.30 am and 5 pm to  9 pm

  • Gold Coast Airport – 6 am to 10 am and 3 pm to 7 pm

  • Cairns International Airport – 4 am to 8 am and 4 pm to 8 pm

South Australia

  • Adelaide Airport – 4.30 am to 8.30 am and 7 pm to 11 pm

Western Australia

  • Perth Airport (International terminal) – 5 am to 9 am

Northern Territory

  • Darwin Airport – 4.30 am to 6.30 am


3 – 4 August 2015

  • Melbourne International Airport – 9 pm on 3 August to  1 am on 4 August

Western Australia

  • Perth Airport (International terminal) – 9 pm on 3 August to  1 am on 4 August

Source: DIBP

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Partner visa cancellations and refusals set to rise under the new data-matching investigations

In the last three years some 750 partner visas were cancelled. This number is set to rise with the launch of data-matching program by the departments of immigration and human services.  Immigration and Human Services combined their respective customer databases to help uncover various types of fraud including those by couples who have lodged or been granted partner visas.

The system aims at identifying those taking welfare payments as singles, despite sponsoring overseas partners and will be looking at grants and applications from the years starting from 2012. DIBP granted 47,752 partner visas in the program year ending 2014.The biggest source nations were China, India, Britain, the Philippines, and Vietnam. These grants and other applications are now being checked against roughly seven million unique records in the Centrelink database. According to figures reported in the Herald Sun, in the last three years about 750 such visas have been cancelled for breaches of conditions, such as making bogus claims, providing incorrect information, and being of bad character.

Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton said that the joint data-matching operation would detect partner visa frauds.


“Last year, my department identified an increase in the number of allegations relating to the facilitating of contrived marriages,” he said adding, “This data-matching program is part of a whole-of-government approach to fraud detection and prevention…“People who deliberately take advantage of Australia’s welfare and migration system will be caught.”

A report in notes that under the Privacy Commissioner’s data matching rules, Immigration and DHS have to make the specifics of their data matching program public before it kicks off. The dataset will include all applicants for partner visas and their sponsors across the years 2012-13 to 2013-14.

Source: Migration Alliance

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