Offshore detention: Australia’s recent immigration history a ‘human rights catastrophe’

Migration to Australia

Adeal with the US to settle an unknown number of refugees from Australia’s offshore processing centres could mark the end of one of Australia’s most contentious political and moral issues over the past 15 years.

Since offshore processing was restarted in 2001, it has grown into an internationally condemned, secretive regime, subject to hundreds of court cases in Australia and overseas.

Inside the centres there have been violent deaths, horrific acts of self-harm and abuse, and mass protests.

The centres have emptied and swelled, peaking under the former Labor government.

The government’s line, hardened over the years by both Labor and the Coalition, had left it in an immovable position – not one asylum seeker who comes by boat can settle in Australia, lest its policy be seen as a failure.

Australia’s government claims its harsh policies have stopped the boats – despite some recent attempts – and thus the deaths at sea. It’s assumed any future arrivals would be dealt with as they are now – with enhanced screening processes and boat turnbacks.

The ‘Pacific Solution’

Offshore processing restarted in earnest in 2001 after the Tampa affair, when a Norwegian freighter rescued 433 asylum seekers from their sinking vessel, 140km from Christmas Island. Against international law, Australia refused the Tamp entry into its waters, sparking an international controversy.

Dubbed the “Pacific Solution” under then prime minister John Howard, the policy saw all asylum seekers who arrived by boat intercepted at sea and sent straight to offshore camps established on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

Australian Immigration

Christmas Island, closer to Indonesia, was excised from the Australian migration zone to host another centre. A subsequent Labor government would more than 10 years later excise the entire Australian mainland.

Following the “children overboard” incident in October 2001 – and the deaths of 353 men, women and children in the Siev X disaster – asylum seekers were a major political issue and Howard went to a federal election with his infamous declaration that “we will decide who comes to this country and the manner in which they come”.

Howard won the election and offshore processing continued. Concerns about indefinite detention and its impact on physical and mental health was widespread among advocates and rights groups.

‘Pacific Solution’ ends but the boats restart

The detention camps housed more than 1,500 people. Between 2001 and 2008, 705 people from the offshore centres were resettled in Australia and 401 in New Zealand. Some asylum seekers remained in detention for years, but the boat arrivals slowed, and in 2008 offshore processing was dismantled by the new Labor government, led by Kevin Rudd.

However arrivals began again and several high-profile tragedies, including an explosion on a boat near Ashmore Reef in 2009 and the crashing of Siev 221 on the coast of Christmas Island in 2010, contributed to a death toll at sea estimated at more than 1,000.

A deal under then prime minister Julia Gillard, signed in mid 2011 with Malaysia, was supposed to see 4,000 refugees taken from Malaysia’s camps in return for it taking 800 asylum seekers who arrived in Australia by boat, but this was struck down by the high court.

Later, the Coalition immigration minister Scott Morrison would successfully negotiate a $55.5m deal with Cambodia to host refugees, but it would be taken up by just six people, with many returning home shortly after arriving.

Following recommendations from an expert panel which focused largely on the need for a “no advantage” policy, offshore processing on Nauru and Manus Island restarted in August 2012.

An “enhanced screening” process – criticised for its lack of transparency – was introduced to deal with the overwhelming backlog of asylum seekers, which grew to 20,000 by mid-2013.

Amnesty International and the UNHCR released reports condemning the conditions inside the two centres, and the indefinite nature of the detention. Amnesty labelled the Nauru centre “a human rights catastrophe”.

Read more : theguardian

Man secretly deported to Nauru from Melbourne detention centre, say lawyers

The immigration department has secretly deported a man to Nauru from a Melbourne detention centre, according to lawyers and advocates.

The man, who is understood to have been granted refugee status, was allegedly removed from the Mita facility on Thursday night without warning and without being able to contact his legal representatives.

It’s believed he was in Australia for medical treatment, but it’s not known if that treatment had ended.

Despite being in a similar situation, he is not part of the cohort of asylum seekers and refugees who have a commitment from the federal government that 72 hours’ notice would be given before any deportation.

Legal cases have been filed on behalf of those individuals and the government gave a formal undertaking in the proceedings before the high court that there would be three days’ warning given to legal teams of any planned deportation.

“A decent and compassionate government which respects the rule of law doesn’t choose to secretively deport people found to be refugees in the middle of the night without any transparency, due process or access to legal advice,” said Daniel Webb, director of legal advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC).

Webb said the man was not a client of theirs, but did have legal representation.

The Department of Immigration told Guardian Australia it did not comment on individual transfers.

The HRLC is representing 320 people currently in Australia after being transferred from Nauru for medical care.

Webb said the shock deportation, coupled with the government’s discussion of permanent visa bans on refugees this week, had distressed those on Nauru and Manus Island, and in Australian detention.

“There are kids in our classrooms right now who in the space of the last few days have heard [the prime minister] Malcolm Turnbull threatening lifetime bans and now seen someone in a similar situation to them secretly deported,” he said. “They are understandably afraid and really unsettled. What are they supposed to say to their friends at school? It’s fundamentally cruel.”

Migration experts have questioned the veracity of the government’s plan to introduce bans on anyone who was processed as a refugee on Manus or Nauru from ever returning to Australia, including as tourists, on business, or as the spouse of a resident.

The immigration minister, Peter Dutton, has said the new rules are essential to stop people coming into Australia “through the back door” and entering into “sham relationships”. However, he has failed to explain why current screening processes are not adequate.

Labor has ridiculed the proposal and criticised the government for changing its messaging from day to day, but refused to rule out supporting it as it had not been provided with any legislation to assess.

On Friday morning, the leader of the House, Christopher Pyne, said the legislation would be released “as soon as it’s ready to be introduced, because it’s pretty straightforward”.

The government has maintained it is still in talks with several countries to act as third-party settlement destinations for the refugees processed offshore, but released no details.

There are suggestions the US and Canada may be involved. New Zealand’s prime minister, John Key, said there had been no new discussion with the Australian government and that New Zealand would not support the creation of “different classes of citizens”.

Key said Australia had “no obvious appetite” to take his country’s offer to resettle 150 refugees from Nauru and it was “increasingly unlikely” an agreement would be reached.

On Friday, Turnbull also defended the government’s slow processing of the 12,000 Syrian refugees it had pledged to resettle and said it was because it was “taking very thorough security checks”.

Article Source: .theguardian

Australia is at risk of losing migrants who are vital to the health of our economy

Immigration for Australia

Australia’s immigration system is at risk of losing public confidence, undermining its long running success. The government needs to make policy changes to put migrant workers and employers back on equal footing.

The successful “Brexit” campaign to leave the European Union illustrates the consequences of failing to properly manage public perception of immigration. Changes to the United Kingdom’s immigration policy were producing economic benefits and helping to plug gaps in the UK labour market. However, opponents successfully blamed the EU’s free movement of labour for increased immigration and various social and economic problems.

Australia’s situation is different, but there is weak regulation of the employers who hire migrant workers, especially temporary visa holders who are often susceptible to being mistreated. This is serving to marginalise migrants in the labour market and broader society.

Australian Immigration

Large intakes of economic immigrants have not led to major political upheaval in Australia. Aside from occasional spikes in support for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, anti-immigration parties have failed to establish ongoing influence. Labor and the Coalition have supported expansive economic immigration policies for much of the post-war era.

The impact of economic immigration on Australia’s population, economy, and labour market is virtually unmatched. Since 1945, immigrants and their immediate descendants have accounted for over half of the nation’s population growth.

More than one in four workers in Australia were born in another country. The foreign-born population as a share of total population is higher in Australia than in any other OECD country, except for Luxembourg and Switzerland.

Australia’s immigration policies have changed significantly in recent years. They have shifted increasingly towards temporary immigration, focused on skilled, working holiday and international student visas.

Read More: theconversation

How many migrants does Australia take every year?

Australian Migrants

Just how many people move to Australia every year? It seems straightforward, but ANU migration researcher Henry Sherrell and Inside Story contributing editor Peter Mares find that it is anything but.

Towards the end of ABC TV’s special “Sovereign Borders“ edition of Q&A last week came an intriguing but frustrating back-and-forth about the number of migrants Australia welcomes each year.

The key protagonists were Shen Narayanasamy, GetUp’s human rights campaign director, and retired general Jim Molan, co-author of the Coalition’s refugee and asylum policy and Tony Abbott’s former special envoy for Operation Sovereign Borders.

As the transcript reveals, the two speakers offered up very different numbers for Australia’s annual migration intake:

At this point, UNSW law professor and refugee expert Jane McAdam intervened in an attempt to clarify matters. She suggested that the two figures could be reconciled: Molan was referring to Australia’s annual intake of 200,000 permanent migrants, while Narayanasamy was including an additional 600,000 temporary migrants.

Australian immigration

Neither of the two protagonists threw much light on the issue; in fact, the exchange probably only added to the level of public confusion, despite McAdam’s attempt to reconcile the figures. This was surely not the panellists’ intention. But combative, live television is not the best place to discuss statistics, particularly when they are complex. Counting the number of migrants Australia takes in each year might appear simple, but it is not really so straightforward.

All three panellists were correct in their own terms: Australia’s annual permanent migration intake is capped at just below 200,000 people (Molan’s figure) and each year around 600,000 migrants are granted temporary visas as international students, working holiday makers or temporary skilled workers (McAdam’s figure). Adding these two numbers together gives the total of 800,000 (Narayanasamy’s figure). But there are two serious problems in counting migration numbers in this way.

Read more: crikey

Opportunities for Bangladeshi students in New Zealand

Immigration to New Zealand

With quality education, low cost of living and a welcoming environment, New Zealand poses as a great destination for Bangladeshi students. Every year Bangladeshi students fight for getting into a university in UK, US or Canada  where they face intense global competition. Unlike the situation in those countries, New Zealand does not have massive competition to enter the first year of a university degree. Moreover, the New Zealand government has invested heavily on university education over the years. As a result, New Zealand has more capacity to absorb students from other countries. Therefore, entry requirements are moderate compared with most of the top universities in the common destinations of Bangladeshi students such as USA, UK, Canada.

Although the competition may be low due to many factors, New Zealand still has a progressive education system with state-of-the-art facilities. Qualifications are internationally recognised. Educational institutions in New Zealand offer a wide variety of courses to the international students. The New Zealand government has put strong national quality assurance system, designed to help institutions maintaining the quality and consistency of training and assessment programmes. All courses and programmes offered by registered providers must be approved by a quality assurance body ‘NZQA’.

Student immigration

Over the years, New Zealand has become a land of possibility for the Bangladeshi students. They can get permanent residency easily if they are ready to abide by the rules and regulation of New Zealand government. New Zealand immigration process is still easier compared to Australia, USA and Canada. Thus, there is better opportunity for Bangladeshi students who are considering to build a career in a developed country.

For having comparatively low population than the area of the country, New Zealand government approves residency to the eligible international students. Not only that the tuition fees are cheaper than any other country, students in New Zealand get 20 hours of job permit during their study to manage their daily expenses.

Eligible students can apply for visa by themselves. New Zealand Embassy in India processes the visa application of Bangladeshi students. However, as the visa and immigration process is complicated, a little mistake can affect the visa application process badly. It is important that students choose the right visa consultancy firm as there is no embassy of New Zealand in Bangladesh. Applicant has to verify his/her relevant documents by authorized Immigration Adviser or BNZEF (Bangladesh New Zealand Education Foundation ) which costs around 16-20 thousand Taka.

Immigration to New Zealand

There are eight government funded universities providing undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes. A broad range of subjects are offered there. As the quality of a NZ university education is well recognised internationally, many NZ graduates have been achieving international recognition in their fields.

The country has a comparatively low cost of living, abundant fresh food at reasonable prices and a wide variety of student accommodation options. Transport is also moderately priced, affording easy access to rivers, mountains, lakes, forests and beaches and the recreational opportunities they provide. As English is the day-to-day language in New Zealand, Bangladeshi students find it very easy to study, live and interact in New Zealand. Moreover, the New Zealand accent is easy to understand. New Zealand offers a safe learning environment. Bangladeshi students can easily consider New Zealand as their one of the top overseas education destinations.

Article Source: thefinancialexpress 

Student visa shift risks $18bn in exports

australian students

A new “simplified” visa processing regime is causing ­catastrophic ­delays to processing overseas ­student applications and a big spike in visa rejections, causing universities and ­English-language colleges to postpone courses and threatening the viability of the $18.5 ­billion export sector.

Education providers say that thousands of overseas students, particularly from China, have been caught up in the new ­system, introduced on July 1.

The delays are not only causing education institutions financial stress but threatening longstanding partnerships, and putting at risk a prestigious scholarship program through which China sends abroad 6000 of its best postgraduates each year.

The Chinese Scholarship Council is so concerned about the delays it is recommending students approved for postgraduate study in Australia seek other host countries, said Australian Council of Graduate Research executive officer Fiona Zammitt.

students in australia

Brett Blacker, executive director of peak group English Australia, which represents ­English-language colleges, ­described the current delays and punitive rejections regime as a crisis. “We have members who have hundreds of students waiting for their visas,” Mr Blacker said. “A lot of these students are set to study English courses, then move into foundation courses and degree programs. The knock-on effect of the delays mean they will miss the start date for their next intake.”

The University of NSW is one institution struggling with the ­delays. Vice president, international, Fiona Docherty, said the university had 350 students due to start next week still awaiting visa approvals. “We’ve had a 50 per cent ­increase in applications this year, which is a good problem to have, but delays in processing is not good for our reputation,” Ms ­Docherty said.

Mr Blacker said the main issue appeared to be with applications from China, which supplies about more than a quarter of all overseas students. Last year there were 645,200 enrolments by full-fee paying international students in Australia on student visas, representing almost a 10 per cent ­increase on 2014. Education for overseas students is Australia’s third-largest export industry after coal and iron ore, bringing at least $18.5 billion into the country.

Mr Blacker said the simplified system was wantonly complex and lacking in nuance, applying the same criteria to very low-risk students from Japan, for example, as to high-risk applications from Nepal or Pakistan. Ms Zammitt said she was aware of visa applicants waiting nine months for a response.

A Department of Immigration and Border Control spokesman acknowledged changes to the visa system had triggered the backlog. He said the department aimed to finalise 75 per cent of complete applications within a month. He said the department would prioritise visa applications lodged more than a month ago. Students arriving in Australia can generally start study on a bridging visa.

Article Via: theaustralian

‘New student visa system in Australia causes delays and rejections’

australian students

The latest changes in Australia’s student visa processing is causing delays and a big rise in visa application rejections, The Australian has reported.

The new Simplified Student Visa Framework which aimed at making a complicated student visa process simpler, came into effect on 1 July 2016. However, it is now threatening the $18.5 billion international education sector in Australia.

According to the news report, thousands of overseas students, particularly from China, are caught up in the complexities of the new system, forcing many educational institutions to postpone the course commencement.

australian student immigration

Australian Council of Graduate Research’s executive officer Fiona Zammitt told the Australian that concerns over the delays have prompted the Chinese Scholarship Council to recommend students seeking postgraduate education in Australia to look for other countries for their study. She said some applicants were waiting for up to nine months to hear the outcome of their visa applications.

English Australia, a body of the colleges running English language colleges has termed the high visa rejections as a crisis.

Brett Blacker, executive director of English Australia said the new system applied the same criteria to very low-risk students from Japan, for example, as to high-risk applications from Nepal or Pakistan.

A Department of Immigration and Border Control spokesman acknowledged changes to the visa system had caused delays in processing of applications.

He said the department aimed to finalise 75 per cent of complete applications within a month.

Under the Simplified Student Visa Framework, visa subclasses were reduced to study in Australia. International students can now apply for a single student visa- subclass 500, regardless of their chosen course of study.

Article Source: sbs