Wednesday, 21th of May 2014 Issue #2 May
No Borders Newsletter

TOP STORY

Investigation of child Abuse

Issues of this month

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UK child abuse inquiry to send lawyers to Australia to investigate historic migration scheme

A TEAM of lawyers and investigators will travel to Australia next month to examine a child migrant scheme that sent children from Ireland and Northern Ireland to the country and what is now the subject of the biggest child abuse inquiry ever held in the UK.

More than 60 Australians have already listed as witnesses to detail their suffering including sexual assaults and naked beatings during the 1940s and 1950s migration program.

The Northern Ireland government-backed Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry is looking at systemic failings in duty of care to children in institutional care in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995.

Most of the child victims were Irish or Northern Irish and were sent to Australia by religious or state institutions during or after World War II.

The inquiry chairman Sir Anthony Hart said a team of lawyers, support staff and members of the inquiry panel would make a second visit to Australia to hear first hand from those that survived the child migrant scheme.

There were 61 Australians who gave testimony already to the inquiry team during its first visit last year but as the inquiry began it had become evident there were many more now coming forward.

Sir Anthony said since the inquiry proper began hearings in January 70 witnesses had spoken and more than 18,000 documents handed to the inquiry in the first "module" alone.

The retired High Court judge described the volume of evidence coming forward would tie up a lot of time and the inquiry could not recommence now before September with all of June taken by the Australian visit.

The alleged victims were now living from across Australia but at the time a majority had been sent to Western Australia.

One Australian victim has privately detailed in writing about how her abuse at the hands of nuns came on the voyage to Australia under the Catholic Episcopal Migrant Welfare program to be housed at Christian Brothers and Nazareth Sisters led homes.

Others were told they were orphans when they were not and had suffered years of identity loss before in later adult life finding out they did have family. Among the Australian evidence are cases of sexual assault of the then children at the hands of their Australian foster families. The inquiry will hand evidence of criminal cases to relevant police. Many of the Australian victims are aged in their 70s and 80s. Sir Anthony has revealed some of those wanting to given evidence have died since the inquiry was called in 2012.

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Those in Australia unsure about their visa status urged to ask for help

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People who have overstayed their visa in Australia can get in touch with the Community Status Resolution Service (CSRS) to resolve the matter and are urged to do so as quickly as possible.

The CSRS is part of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) and also gives information to people who have been granted a bridging visa while they resolve an immigration matter.

'The CSRS will give you clear and correct information about appropriate immigration or departure options, answer your questions and connect you with organisations for further assistance if needed,' said a CSRS spokesman.

Bridging visas are most commonly used where a visa application is being considered, a legal process is underway or when a person is making plans to depart Australia.

'If your visa has just expired, you should come and see us as soon as possible to apply for a new visa. There are incentives for approaching the CSRS within 28 days of your visa expiring. The sooner you see us, the more options you will have,' the spokesman explained.

People can phone CSRS anonymously for information about expired visas or bridging visas and seek general information or speak to the operator in more detail about their circumstances. To be granted or to renew a bridging visa, applicants will need to visit a CSRS departmental office, situated in each state capital city, and bring their passport or other identity documents, such as proof of residential address.

The Australian Government established the CSRS to give people living or working unlawfully in Australia the chance to re-engage and resolve their immigration status. This approach is provided as an alternative to immigration detention for people working with us voluntarily. In these circumstances, we could grant you a bridging visa to allow you to remain in the community temporarily until your immigration matter is finalised,' he added.

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2014 Federal Budget announced, but a lot of questions remain unanswered in customs and immigration

The official release of the 2014 Budget by the Federal Government has made the anticipated cuts and mergers a reality, consistent with the Coalition's commitment to bringing the budget back to surplus and streamline government operations.

But the increased spending on border protection shows a change in focus away from the traditional role and identity of customs in Australia, creating uncertainty for industry.

CUSTOMS AND IMMIGRATION MERGER

To better manage services at Australia's borders, the merger between the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service ("Customs") and the Department of Immigration (which will include the creation of the Australian Border Force ("ABF")) will cost $480.5 million with 480 jobs lost.

There has been little discussion on the how this will affect the more traditional (albeit the less exciting) functions of Customs such as tariffs, import and export controls, reporting and revenue collection. However the Customs portfolio Budget Statement has announced a commitment to design a trusted trader programme to foster legitimate trade.

Nonetheless, the merger will now rank Customs alongside the Australian Federal Police, ASIO and the Defence Force, which represents a change in focus, evident with the removal of the words "Customs" and "Service" in the new title of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

MERGER OF COMMONWEALTH TRIBUNALS

Consistent with the speculation leading into the announcement of the 2014 Budget, there have been cuts to 36 government agencies. This includes the merger of the Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal ("AAT") with the Social Security Appeals Tribunal, Refugee Review Tribunal, Migration Review Tribunal and Classification Review Board. The single body will retain the name of the AAT, which should not impact those in the trade and transport environment too heavily in their day to day operations. However, we are yet to see how this will work with the new ABF.

NATIONAL AUDIT REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS

In addition to these mergers, the Budget has addressed a number of other issues identified by the National Commission of Audit's Report ("Report"), on which we provided comments in our CTT Update on 2 May 2014.

While the Report recommended abolishing Austrade and the Export Finance & Insurance Corporation EFIC, this has not been done in the budget.

However, the budget will deliver on a number of industry assistance programmes that the Report recommended to be cut (where there to be no genuine market failure deemed and where benefits accrue entirely for the Government largely to the firm or industry supported) with the closure of the Automotive Transformation Scheme and the Ethanol Production Subsidies to name a few.

SUBSIDIES FOR SMALL BUSINESS EXPORTERS

Despite the large cuts to almost every facet of the Federal Government's functions, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has secured $15m for small business exporters so that they may remain competitive and profitable internationally.

Those in the meat, dairy, fish, horticulture and grain industries will be able to apply for a rebate in of up to $5000 in 2014-15, which will cover 50% of export registration charges.

FINALISING THE BUDGET

Of course all of these changes still need to be passed through Parliament, including the Senate (of which the Government does not have control). So it remains to be seen whether politically all of these changes can be achieved.

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More Australian business visas to be made available for skilled workers, families

Business Visa

Growth in business visa programmes in Australia will be prioritised and changed to match the country's economic and skills requirements, it has been announced.

Over $300 million will be saved through changes to Australia's 2014/2015 migration programme, according to Scott Morrison, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.

He revealed that the 2014/2015 migration programme will provide a total of 190,000 places, including 128,550 for skilled migration, 60,885 places for family migration and 565 places for migration under the special eligibility stream.

The newly released government budget allocates almost 68%of Australia's migration places to skilled migration, and reprioritises employer sponsored visas.

With the reprioritisation towards employer sponsored visas, employers will be assisted in finding workers to fill vital positions where they have been unable to find local workers. This also protects Australian workers, who will have less direct competition from independent migrants who arrive without a guaranteed job, Morrison explained.

The family stream will see more places being allocated for partners and children, which together increase by 335 places, in recognition of the strong social and economic benefits of close family reunion, while the number of places in the contributory parent category has also been increased by 500 places.

'The additional 4,000 places in the family stream, which the previous government allocated to illegal maritime arrivals have been removed, resulting in a savings of around $267 million. This change will provide yet another disincentive for people considering the dangerous boat journey to Australia,' said Morrison.

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Faster Australian visitor visa application now in place for more countries

Some 51 countries and regions have been added to the eligibility list for electronic lodgement of certain visitor visa applications for Australia.

Those nations eligible to electronically apply for a visitor visa (subclass 600) will progressively expand starting this month. Overall, citizens from 124 countries will now benefit from lodging online to holiday in or visit Australia.

For those who are eligible, travellers to Australia will find the process of applying for a visitor visa faster than ever, said a spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Border Control (DIBP).

'Online access to these visas is being progressively expanded to all countries. To check if your country is on the eligibility list, or for more information about online lodgement arrangements for the visitor visa (subclass 600), see the DIBP website,' he explained.

Meanwhile the DIBP is reminding visa applicants that new identity requirements were introduced for Public Interest Criterion (PIC) 4020 in March.

'The new identity requirements mean that as part of your visa application you must now satisfy the Minister of your identity. If you are refused a visa because you are unable to satisfy the Minister of your identity, you will not be granted a visa for a period of 10 years after refusal. You won't be able to provide reasons to waive these new requirements, as they are not subject to a waiver,' said the spokesman.

If your visa is refused because you did not satisfy the Immigration Minister of your identity, anyone who is listed as a member of their family unit will also be refused. These family members will also be prevented from being granted another visa where the visa requires you to satisfy PIC 4020 as part of the visa criteria for 10 years.

The other criteria of the PIC remain the same and you are still required to satisfy them in order to be granted a visa.

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WARNING: Non-contributory Parent, Remaining Relative, Carer and Aged Dependant visa application should be lodged immediately

DIBP has confirmed to the MIA, that as announced in the Budget (See MIA Notice 48.2014), applications for Non-contributory Parent, Remaining Relative, Carer and Aged Dependant visas will be ceasing.

DIBP has also advised that this will happen in the very near future, but the date is as yet unspecified.

This closure will have no retrospective implications.

It is therefore vital that any applications for these four visas be lodged immediately.

We hope that you have found the information in this issue of our newsletter to be enriching and useful. Stay tuned for our next publication and if you would like to talk to us directly, please do not hesitate to email service@noborders-group.com. In addition, if you would like your contact details updated or removed from this distribution list or you know someone who would like to be added, please email us on the same address.


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