Author Archives: aesadmin

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Immigration department to get more money to say ‘no’ more often

In the upcoming budget, the federal government is expected to allocate an extra AU$400 million to the department of immigration with staffing levels expected to hit a record 6000 officers within the next few years. Hundreds of people are currently being interviewed for jobs.

Labelled as the ‘once in a generation overhaul’ the department is the only one, other than Defence, to receive a funding boost. The new funds are to support the major reorganisation for bigger flows of people and goods in and out of Australia under a more ‘rigorous enforcement regime’ according to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Part of the funds will go toward arming of officers; taking over Australia’s immigration detention network; and taking up positions on the frontline at airports, shipping terminals and at sea to gather intelligence and detain offenders.

A new website,, will also be launched to replace the websites for the formerly separate Immigration and Customs departments.

In a major speech on the future of the merged agencies in April, Immigration Department secretary Michael Pezzullo said the focus of the new department would be to “manage a system of border processes by which we will oversee the flow of people, and goods, to and from our nation”.


“Our staff will, where necessary, be expected to say ‘no’ more often than they do now, where circumstances warrant and within the law, as a result of the better use that they will make of new intelligence systems and other capabilities, as well as improved relationships with law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and better training and support to make defensible adverse decisions,” he said adding “The Australian community rightly expects us to deliver those benefits, and to keep the public safe. This is not a choice. It has to be done simultaneously and seamlessly.”

Source: Migration Alliance

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Volunteer work activities proposed to be excluded from the eligibility framework for applying for a second working holiday visa application

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is currently in the process of making a change to the second Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa initiative, to exclude volunteer work activities, such as Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF), from its eligibility framework. However, this change will take some time to introduce, and is not yet in effect, so it does not impact upon current second Working Holiday visa applications.


When the Department knows the exact date of implementation for the change, it will be announced publicly on our website. This public announcement will be made well ahead of the implementation date so that participants have suitable advance warning. While it is likely the change will commence towards the end of 2015, participants should regularly check this website for updates.​​​​​


Source: the Department of Immigration and Border Protection

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A new ‘low-skilled’ visa could help prevent the exploitation of our young visitors

The exploitation of sc417 (Working Holiday) workers revealed by the ABC report this week put into the spotlight a shadow economy reliant on low-skilled workers which various governments of the day have refused to acknowledge.


“Officially, Australia only has a high-skilled migration programme (namely, the 457 visa), but in truth the Australian labour market is flooded with low-skilled temporary migrant workers on other visas”, state two academics in an opinion piece in The Age today.


There is a large underclass of workers in the agriculture and hospitality industries made up foreigners on various types of temporary visas including work/holiday visas, student visas and tourist visas. The numbers are not known but their plight is only talked about when media reports pierce the veil of secrecy behind which these vulnerable individuals work and are exploited.


“So how have we allowed this to happen? Successive Coalition and Labor governments have not only tolerated this unskilled migrant workforce, but have encouraged its growth,” state the opinion piece by Dr Joanna Howe and Associate Professor Alexander Reilly of the Adelaide Law School.


The academics propose that Australia introduce an official entry stream for low-skilled workers.


“This visa would be subject to strict independent labour-market testing so that only occupations that are in shortage can be accessed. This independent labour-market testing would also confirm that the skill shortage was not owing to a lack of investment in training and/or Australia’s apprenticeship program, or because of unacceptably poor wages and working conditions for that occupation.”


Dr Joanna Howe and Associate Professor Alexander Reilly work in the Adelaide Law School and are members of the Public Law and Policy Research Unit at the University of Adelaide Law School. Their article “Meeting Australia’s Labour Needs – the Case for a Low Skill Work Visa” will be published in the Federal Law Review later this year, according to The Age.


Source: Migration Alliance

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Call for the Government to ensure fair work conditions for Working Holiday Makers

The department of immigration says that the exploitation of foreign workers in Australia is hard to uncover. ABCs hidden cameras however had no trouble revealing some of the shocking practices. There are now calls for the introduction of a low-skill work visa to allow for greater transparency and monitoring of foreign workers in the agriculture industry.


A Four Corners investigation this week has revealed that food being picked, packed and processed by exploited workers is being sold to consumers nationwide. The programme alleges that supermarkets and fast food outlets are involved naming Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, IGA, Costco, KFC, Red Rooster and Subway as retailers receiving produce from such suppliers.


Baiada, Australia’s largest poultry supplier came under the spotlight in the programme with allegations that it has deliberately engaged labour contractors in order to avoid direct responsibility for the exploitation. Baiada has previously been caught out by the Fairwork Ombudsman for underpaying workers, according to the programme.


The report says that workers are forced to work a relentless pace, criticized and abused endlessly, not allowed to drink water or even go to the toilet for hours on end. They live in cramped quarters and are paid well below the minimum wage with the contractors skimming off on their wages. There are claims that underpayment is estimated in some cases at about AU$30,000 per individual per year.


“All of the major suppliers are using dodgy labour hire contracting arrangements that fundamentally exploit the workers who pick and pack the vegetables,” alleged George Robertson of the National Union of Workers, Victoria.


Industry insiders and federal politicians are calling for urgent reforms to Australia’s fresh food supply chain before it is too late. There are calls at a federal level for the supermarkets to stop shirking responsibility by passing accountability back to the suppliers and farmers. There have been calls to introduce a low-skill work visa in order allow for more transparency and monitoring by the authorities.


“We will be known as a country that exploits vulnerable people who are looking for a better chance at life,” warned Labour law academic Dr Joanna Howe, a senior lecturer with the University of Adelaide Law who called for urgent reform.


“We would never accept this if it were Australian workers being treated in this way, but because it’s 417 visa holders and we don’t know them, there’s a lid on it, we accept that it’s OK” said Dr Howe.


Assistant Minister for Immigration, Senator Michaelia Cash issued a media statement indicating that the majority of employers are doing the right thing and the Four Corners programme’s allegations while concerning are exceptions.


“Both the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the FWO are active in ongoing compliance campaigns to ensure that 417 visa holders are being paid in accordance with Australian pay and conditions” said Senator Cash.


Source: Migration Alliance

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Swinburne ranked in the Times Higher Education Top 100 under 50 and in the QS World University Rankings by Subject top 100 for Arts and Design

Swinburne University of Technology is proud to share that we have been ranked number 65 in the world under 50 years of age by Times Higher Education, reinforcing our position as a young, dynamic university with a depth of expertise in teaching and research, both in Australia and internationally. In recognition of our efforts in internationalisation, the 2015 Top 100 under 50 also honoured Swinburne with a Gold Award in the category of ‘International Outlook’, which places us among the top 10 most internationalised universities under 50 years old in the world.

We are also pleased to report that the 2015 QS World Universities Rankings by Subject has ranked us in the top 100 in the world for Art and Design and top 250 in Computer Science & Info Systems, Physics and Astronomy and Mechanical Engineering. This is an exciting addition to Swinburne’s current standing in the top 75 in the field of Physics by the Academic Ranking of World Universities 2014.

We are proud of our achievements and the recent university rankings are a testament to the superior level of education and world-renowned research that we consistently deliver, particularly in the areas of design, engineering and computer science.



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Australian Visa could cost AU$50,000 from next year

$50,000 could soon be the cost of Australian citizenship under radical proposals being reviewed by the Productivity Commission. The government has asked the think tank to investigate a “price-based immigration system” which would effectively grant citizenship to those who are willing to pay the price, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald today.


With the budget blowout now estimated at $150 billion over the next four years – which is $50 billion higher than first thought – the government is seriously considering a radical shift away from migration based on skills and family connections to a person’s wealth.


“Such a scheme could help the government rein in the budget deficit by bringing in tens of billions of dollars in extra revenue and allow it to trim the number of public servants administering Australia’s immigration system,” notes the report.


The Productivity Commission paper on Australia’s migrant intake, released on Friday, raises some dramatic proposals including introducing an immigration lottery and creating a HECS-style payment system for immigrants to pay back their entry fee – those who cannot pay the fee upfront may be allowed to borrow against future expected earnings or by introducing a loans program.


Businesses needing skilled migrants could pay the fee or governments could waive the fee for particular professions or trades, according to the report.


The Productivity Commission will release a draft report in November and hold public hearings before it hands its final report to government next March.


Source: Migration Alliance

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Changes to acceptable English tests and minimum English language test scores for subclasses 457

Commencing from 18 April 2015, in addition to IELTS and OET, DIBP will also accept TOEFL iBT, PTE Academic and Cambridge CAE results Temporary Work (Skilled) visa Subclass 457 visa application purpose.


Furthermore, the Subclass 457 visa applicants (other than those requiring higher level of English language proficiency for grant of registration, licence or membership) will be allowed a lower English language test score to enable this visa to be more responsive to Australia’s labour market conditions. This change will allow applicants to apply with an overall minimum English language score and a minimum score for each of the four English test components.


Minimum required overall test score and the minimum required scores for each of the test components:

English test Minimum band score Minimum scores for English test components
Listening Reading Speaking Writing
IELTS test Overall band score 5.0 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5
TOEFL iBT Total band score 36 3 3 12 12
PTE Overall band score 36 30 30 30 30
CAE Overall band score 154 147 147 147 147


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Australians show overwhelming support for migration

9 in 10 Australians think immigrants improve Australian society and many think the migration levels should be increased or kept the same at least.


A poll of 1200 Australian adults in March this year has found that an overwhelming number of Australians believe that immigrants improve Australian society, according to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald today.


The figures from the annual poll conducted by the Australian National University also found that over 80 per cent of Australians think immigrants are good for the economy.


Less than a third thought immigrants take jobs away from people born here and a similar number felt immigrants increased crime levels.


The main area of objection is with illegal immigrants. Under half of those polled felt that the current measures against illegals are inadequate and agreed that Australia should take “stronger measures to exclude illegal immigrants”.


About a third however disagreed on the need for stronger measures.


The poll also asked questions about what it means to be Australian. People were actually quite flexible about this.


“Those polled thought that respecting Australian laws and political institutions (96 per cent), being able to speak English (92 per cent) and feeling Australian (87 per cent) were more important than being born in Australia. They also had notions of identity that went beyond the nation. While 90 per cent said they felt close to Australia, 48 per cent said they felt close to Asia/ Oceania” according to the report.


Despite looking to Asia, many Australians are also continuing to look to Great Britain, with 44 per cent of those polled saying the Queen and Royal Family are very or fairly important to Australia.


Support for a republic has dropped from 66 per cent before the referendum in 1999 to 54 per cent today.


Source: Migration Alliance

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What happens when the Australian Ambassador to Indonesia is withdrawn

Australia’s largest foreign mission is its embassy in Jakarta. That mission will soon be without an ambassador. Ministerial visits have also been suspended. With contact at the highest levels suspended how will it affect business and the thousands of travellers between the countries?

The Australian Government had hoped that “Indonesia would show mercy to the two young men, who have worked hard since their arrests to rehabilitate themselves and improve the lives of other prisoners,” according to a statement from the office of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop today.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran’s family and friends at this extremely difficult time” Ms Bishop said.


Ms Bishop confirmed that Australia, “will withdraw our Ambassador for consultations once the men’s bodies have been returned to the Chan and Sukumaran families…Ministerial visits will remain suspended” said Ms Bishop.

DFAT nor the DIBP have provided any information on how these measures will specifically affect business or travellers between the countries. However, according to various analysts, Australia’s reaction which as serious as it seems, will not affect the daily operations of the Australian consulates in Indonesia. It does not mean diplomatic relations have ended as the rest of the consulate will continue to operate and provide services.

DFAT’s website advice is to ‘exercise a high degree of caution’ on travel to Indonesia’ which is at the same overall level of advice prior to the announcement of the downgrading of diplomatic contact.

Source: Migration Alliance

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Good news for Subclass 457 Visa

The Government has made changes to the Temporary Skilled (Subclass 457) visas effective from 18 April 2015.  The Government:


  • has expanded the list of English language providers, to include test of English as a Foreign Language internet – based test (TOEFL IBT), Pearson Test of English (PTE); and Cambridge English Advanced (CAE) test (conducted on or after 1 January 2015);
  • will accept an overall test score with minimum scores of each test component (reading, writing, speaking and listening); and
  • will grant an exemption when an applicant can provide evidence of five cumulative years of study in English at the secondary or tertiary level, rather than proof of five years consecutive secondary or tertiary study in English.
  • has extended the term of standard business sponsorship to 5 years commencing from the date of approval.
  • has extended the sponsorship period for start-up businesses from twelve (12) months to eighteen (18) months.
  • has reduced the market salary exemption threshold from $250,000 to $180,000, this is now in line with the marginal tax rate.
  • has extended the notifiable period for sponsors from 10 working days to 28 calendar days.


For more detailed information on the changes please refer to the Department’s website at:


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