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New Zealander finalist at Miss Pakistan World title

Miss Pakistan World title Maria Mughal

A Pakistan-born and New Zealand-bred girl is taking part in Miss Pakistan World contest next month. This will be the first time New Zealand will be represented at the controversial beauty pageant which is now in its 10th year. Over the years, the participants and organisers of Miss Pakistan World have attracted death threats.

Maria Mughal, an AUT Business School student, will fly to Toronto in Canada to participate in the pageant, which has never been held in Pakistan since its launch. The winner of the title will represent Pakistan in Miss Earth contest.

Like most girls her age, you will generally hear her talking about “the latest gadgets, and Korean pop and fashion trends,” as she puts it, but probe a little deeper, and you will come across a determined young woman not willing to limit her horizons by her complex upbringing.

Miss Pakistan World title Maria Mughal

Born in Kashmir in Pakistan, the 23-year old came to New Zealand with her parents when she was three years old, and struggled to find a balance between her Pakistan and New Zealand values – something that she felt a strong desire to disprove.

“Overcoming this polarity has made me the humble person that I am today,” says the South Auckland-raised girl, in an interview to The Global Indian magazine.

“The scars of my upbringing (are serving as) a reminder of what I would want to change if I had the power to do so.

“I’d like to show that I have found a balance between my Pakistani background and my western life.”

The pageant means “a new start in my life as a confident person”.

“I found it hard mentally, as a young person, to take upon the stress of my family issues,” says Maria.

“I found support within counselling services at school, to persevere through tough times and finish school.

Maria wants to support causes that help young women like her, that have difficult family backgrounds and would not get an equal chance to push for their dreams.

She has found value in discovering her roots.

“I have chosen to continue to learn about my heritage and still speak my mother tongue at home.”

She can read Arabic, and speak a mix of Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi.

“I feel that if you don’t know where you come from, you won’t know who you are; it’s all about finding my identity.”

Maria is very close to her siblings – she is the eldest girl and has seven siblings. She takes her elderly role seriously. “I am constantly pushing them to dream big.”

Initially pursuing a bachelor of science, majoring in sports and exercise science and psychology, she took a break from study and worked in the fitness industry which gave her an opportunity to try her hands at marketing.

“With work experience behind me I changed to a business degree, and I am aiming to be back in the workforce early next year.”

If she won the title, she desires to promote Shakti Asian Women’s Support Group.

“They work with women to teach them what their rights (are), advocate for them and provide support when there is no one.”

Rachel Field, Maria’s friend, wants Maria’s story to show how “New Zealand’s multiculturalism has supported her to be proud of who she is and where she is from. That she would not have been able to do as much as she has in New Zealand as compared to growing up in Pakistan.”

Earlier in 2010, the winner of the pageant, Annie Rupani, known as “Ramadan Queen,” as she was crowned in the month of Ramadan, and the organisers of the event attracted extensive media coverage on the backdrop of massive floods in Pakistan that year.

The winner of Miss Pakistan World title  joined her father at the Rupani Foundation to create jobs, promote equity, and reduce poverty in the Northern Areas of Pakistan, particularly for women.

Annie came under criticism a year later for her vocal support of Veena Malik, a Pakistani actress who participated in an Indian Television show, Bigg Boss (an Indian version of reality show Big Brother).

In the early years of the pageant, fanatic groups and conservative people were against the beauty parade.

The idea of a beauty queen for Pakistan and a female representation of Pakistan was not well digested by the extremists, says Sonia Ahmad, the organiser of Miss Pakistan World title, who has received many threats over these years.

“From hate mail to threats over the phone, and long emails where Islam was explained to us, various forms and methods were used to make us stop. But I went head strong with all of them!” says Sonia in an interview to The Global Indian.

The beauty contest is funded by moderate Pakistanis and the South Asian community. Sonia hopes to use the pageant to showcase the lighter side of Pakistan.

“Pakistan needs to change and to do so, the people have to accept Miss Pakistan World as the only platform where Pakistani women can be patriotic, bold and strong!”

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NZ students to protest against education policy

A group of tertiary students is organising a protest near Auckland’s Britomart Transport Centre to express their discontent about New Zealand’s education policy.

New Zealand has the seventh highest tertiary fees in the world, and yet, the country’s young carry a student debt of $13 billion.

This protest, scheduled for 21 July at 1pm, is the latest in series of organized student protests against the National Government’s recent budget and market-based education policy.

Recently, the government announced $400 million in cuts to early childhood education and cuts to the student allowance scheme and arts funding.

The group of students behind the protests, Blockade the Budget, is extending the protest beyond tertiary students to include all those affected by budget cuts to the education sector.

The group claims that 15% of tertiary students in New Zealand live in absolute financial distress.

The group hopes to draw attention to some of the detrimental steps taken by the government including the damaging National Standards programme, performance-based pay for teachers and charter schools.

“We are bringing together a number of community groups, unions and educators,” says the protest organiser.

“All parties are invited to stand together in our struggle for the future of education in our country.

“This will be a large, festive demonstration. We want to creatively show our discontent and tell the truth about attacks on education, through a combination of a traditional protest march and family friendly street theatre.”

Anyone interested in joining the rally against education cuts are encouraged to meet at 1pm on Saturday 21 July at Britomart, Auckland CBD.

Study Abroad

IITs again top India’s best engineering colleges’ list

The answer to ” which is the best engineering college in India” is almost redundant. Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have been at the pinnacle of engineering education for decades and have once again topped the list of best engineering colleges in India, according to a latest report.

In fact, it is IIT Kanpur that sits at the top of the list of India’s top engineering colleges, in an India Today Nielson findings of 2012. Established in 1959 as one of the first Indian Institutes of Technology, IIT Kanpur was created with the assistance of a consortium of nine leading US research universities as part of the Kanpur Indo-American Programme (KIAP).

list of top engineering colleges outlook 2012

IIT Kanpur ranked top engineering college in India in 2012

Second on the list it IIT Delhi, which was established as College of Engineering and Technology in 1961, before being upgraded as an Indian Institute of Technology in 1963.

The third on the list is India’s oldest IIT – Kharagpur that was set up in 1951 to train engineers and scientists. Among IITs, the Kharagpur institute has the largest campus (2,100 acres), the most departments, and the highest student enrolment.

The fourth place is taken by IIT Chennai, and at the fifth position is a private university – BITS Pilani. Set up in 1964, Birla Institute of Technology and Science has 15 academic departments with a focus on education in Engineering and the Sciences.

At number six is IIT Roorkee which is Asia’s oldest technical institution. Founded in 1847, it was given the university status in 1949 and, became an IIT in 2001. IIT Roorkee has 18 academic departments covering Engineering, Applied Sciences, Humanities & Social Sciences and Management programmes.

In fact, IITs have secured six of the top ten positions in the engineering universities’ list in India. Make it seven, as IT-BHU in Varanasi, at number seven, will soon be declared an Indian Institute of Technology. Students admitted to the institute after 2006-2007 will be awarded IIT degrees.

However, IIT Powai (Mumbai) has missed a place in the top 10 engineering colleges of India. Thousands of students appear for the IIT JEE – the entrance test to get into an IIT, and compete for about 10,000 seats available.

Many of these seats are reserved for special groups like scheduled and backward classes, and others, including those for the children of NRIs (non-resident Indians). The Indian Institute of Technology Joint Entrance Examination (popularly known as IIT-JEE ) is an annual college entrance examination in India.

About 17 colleges use JEE as a sole criterion for admission to their undergraduate programs. The fifteen colleges include the 15 IITs, IT-BHU Varanasi, and ISMU Dhanbad.

However, not all is lost for those that can’t make into the IITs. Many students also appear for the All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) in addition to IIT JEE. More than 1 million students appeared for AIEEE in 2012, which opens the doors to many top-rated engineering colleges like the National Institute of Technology and Delhi Technological University, in addition to the IITs. AIEEE cut offs are believed to be lower than IIT JEE.

India’s Top 10 Engineering colleges

  1. IIT Kanpur
  2. IIT Delhi
  3. IIT Kharagpur
  4. IIT Chennai
  5. BITS Pilani
  6. IIT Roorkee
  7. Institute of Technology, BHU, Varanasi (soon to become an IIT)
  8. National Institute of Technology Karnataka
  9. National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli
  10. IIT Guwahati
Immigration Study Abroad Work Abroad

Scam mobile apps for jobs in Australia


Many mobile apps for jobs in Australia are making false guarantees for skilled professionals keen on migrating to Australia, and Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is reminding users of mobile applications to be aware of such scams.

“Tablet PC and smartphone apps are another avenue that scammers and unscrupulous operators have explored to take advantage of vulnerable people, in a similar manner to unsolicited phone calls and hoax emails,” a DIAC spokesman says.


“These applications should be ignored and deleted.”

While the immigration department says that only registered migration agents are qualified to provide advice regarding migration or visa applications, it hasn’t named any specific mobile apps for jobs that should be avoided.

“We are aware of a number of mobile applications that offer guides to the unwary about applying for a visa where the applicant might not have sufficient evidence; or tips about how to speed up visa applications,” the spokesman says.

“Not only would the information provided be potentially false or misleading, but may also jeopardize a genuine application.

“The department warns that the risks are high for those who seek to defraud the system.

“The unlawful provision of immigration assistance by unregistered people can adversely affect the lives of our clients and challenges the very integrity of Australia’s migration and visa programs.”

A search by The Global Indian magazine for  mobile apps for jobs in Australia brought up many apps including those for mining jobs in Australia, university jobs and IT jobs.

However, the two top listing apps are from major brands – Seek Jobs is a popular job brand in Australia and New Zealand; and MyCareer Jobs app is by Australia’s leading media group Fairfax Digital Australia and New Zealand.

Immigration Study Abroad

Resources for finding study-abroad opportunities

In this increasingly globalized world, there are many reasons for Indians to study abroad. You get the chance to see the world and broaden your experience. You can gain a fresh perspective on your home country. You learn a language in country where it is spoken by the native population. You gain transferable professional skills and improve your marketability. You also get the opportunity to develop friendships that can last a lifetime.

The idea of studying abroad can seem intimidating, especially for Indians without experience of traveling outside of the country. Here are some resources for easing the process of studying abroad and finding study-abroad opportunities:

  • College Study-Abroad Programs Many colleges and universities offer study-abroad programs, including study-abroad programs through distance learning schools. You can find more information earning a degree here. Some schools have individual study-abroad departments, while others are affiliated with a specific department, such as languages and cultures of Asia or international business. The study-abroad programs at schools can help line students up with study-abroad programs, as well as offer guidance on such things as travel reservations, culture shock, and pre-trip immunizations.
  • The Center for Global EducationThe Center for Global Education is an Internet resource for all things about studying abroad. This includes help in finding study-abroad opportunities, descriptions of various types of study-abroad programs, advice on funding your study-abroad experience, location of banks and ATMs, safety and health tips, and cultural information for specific countries. The Center for Global Education also provides links to many other useful study-abroad websites.
  • International – The Intenational Student website is great porthole for those interested in studying abroad. In addition to providing useful information on study-abroad programs, it gives individuals who are interested in studying abroad the chance to interact with each other on blogs or forums.


Opinion Relationships Study Abroad

OPINION: What if my child succeeds?

Educationalist Shalini Nambiar enquires into how we are making ‘bricks in the wall’ with our next generation:

I still get tears in my eyes when I recall what I went through when I was in school for almost 6 years. I, as a child was extremely shy and a feeling of insecurity was there since I was always a plump child. I was nicknamed ‘fatty’ by all and how it use to hurt!

But my mom gave me the courage and supported me throughout, taught me how important it is to face the world and listen to one’s heart.As an educationist I want to write about my dream about that little child who walks in with hopes and dreams in his eyes, my dream to make him a happy human being and successful in whatever he ventures in life.

Movies like "Three Idiots" have attempted to expose the limitations of the current education system.

There are hundreds of examples of people in this world who have believed what others have said about them and failed and there are just as many people who have refused to be influenced by the opinion of others and have been successful.

One of the first rules in life is to trust yourself. Kids get too much advice from everyone else of what they should do in life. No one allows them to discover themselves. Speaking from personal example I discovered very late in life what I really wanted to do in my life. Everyone else decided till then what I should do.

If I were to ask each one of you to think of one person in your life who you consider successful and why? I am sure most of you will talk about hard work, dedication, commitment which led him or her to excel. How come then we do not have school advertisements saying that so and so scored 99% in hard work, 98% in commitment. Aren’t theses the qualities our education should prepare us for?

Education’s final measurable impact is not in the exam result or the sports result not in the earning process but in the quality of the lives it inspires its students to lead.

Let’s teach the children the beauty of being imperfect. That it’s all right to make mistakes. We have to be prepared for tomorrow when it would be more important to learn how to rapidly adapt to a different job tasks and to constantly think out of the box, what we need is to develop a system that encourages students to gain multiple abilities to help them combat the rapid changes in today’s world. This is the kind of education schools should give.

Life is not reserved only for those who score 96% in exams, life is not all about money, it’s about loving what you are doing.

Change our programming as parents and teachers from, ‘what if my child fails?’ to ‘what if my child succeeds?’

To dare something new we must move out of our comfort zone. Yesterday when a prospective parent walked in my room and asked me about my philosophy, I said, “We teach them to dream, have faith in their dreams and follow them wholeheartedly so that they achieve it.”

In our effort to do a good job raising our children we tend to nit pick our kids to death over their flaws and failures.

Let the child be, let him follow his heart. Let’s remember that each child is unique. Khalil Gibran has aptly said:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.


What should schools teach?

Firstly teach them that failure is not a negative term as there has never been a single successful person who hasn’t failed numerous times on their journey to success. In fact, the most successful people in life are those who have failed the most.

Secondly teach them goal setting.

Only three percent of people commit their goals to paper.

These are the same people who find the greatest success in life.

Lastly teach them how to figure out what you really want in life. Unfortunately, far too many people never take the time to do this. At the workplace we meet these types of people. They are the ones who spend the whole week just looking forward to the weekend. Let’s not get stuck waiting for the weekend. Let’s teach the children to find what we truly love to do in life and make it our vocation.

I firmly believe that it is very hard to succeed at something you hate. On the other hand, it’s hard not to succeed when working at something you love.

Shalini Nambiar is director of Excelsior American School. Views expressed are her own. (Reproduced with permission.)

Immigration Study Abroad Work Abroad

Indians now 1% of US population

The legacy of generations of migration is showing signs – the Indian ethnic group in the United States of America now comprises 1% of population.

Most of this growth has come in the last decade – the 3-million-strong Indian community grew by 70% during the last 10 years alone.

Indians are now single-most contributing factor to the Asian population growth in America.

These are the findings of the US 2010 Census analysed by the India-West newspaper.

Most Indians in the US (a little over half million or 528,176 to be precise) live in California, while New York comes second at 313,620.

However, New Jersey, with its nearly 300,000 Indians, accounts for 3.3% of its total population, the highest in the US. New Jersy only had 170,000 Indians 10 years ago; so it seems New Jersey has become a population destination among Indians.

Indians are the largest Asian group in Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Miami and Atlanta.

The newspaper attributed the population increase mainly to a large number of skilled professionals migrating to the US, especially on H-1B visa.

A large number of Indian students choose America for higher education.

Chinese, at 4 million, was the largest Asian group in the US, followed by Filipinos at 3.4 million, and Indians at 3.2 million, according to the 2010 census.

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Canada to return older visa forms

In a major announcement that’s likely to impact about 300,000 visa applicants, the immigration department of Canada is planning  to return nearly all applications submitted before 27 February 2008.

The proposed drastic measure will “create a fast immigration system that creates jobs and promotes Canada’s long term prosperity. The move will eliminate the backlog in the main federal economic immigration programme.

“The Federal Skilled Worker Program backlog is a major roadblock to Canada’s ability to respond to rapidly changing labour market needs,” said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney. “Having to process applications that are as many as eight years out of date reduces our ability to focus on new applicants with skills and talents that our economy needs today.”

As announced in Economic Action Plan 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is planning to refund fees and return stale applications.

CIC is transforming its suite of economic immigration programs to create a just-in-time system that recruits people with the right skills to meet Canada’s labour market needs, fast tracks their immigration, and gets them working in a period of months, not years, says an official statement.

“Eliminating the longstanding backlog of Federal Skilled Workers (FSW) applications will allow the Department to focus resources on facilitating the arrival of skilled immigrants who apply under the current eligibility criteria,” the statement said.

Under proposed legislation, CIC will close the files of FSW applicants who applied before February 27, 2008, and for whom an immigration officer has not made a decision based on selection criteria by 29 March 2012.

This is expected to affect around 280,000 applicants, including their dependants. CIC will begin the process of returning the full amount of fees paid to the Department – projected to be C$130 million.

For those who have passed the selection criteria stage – approximately 20,000 people – CIC will continue processing their applications until they are approved for entry into Canada or not.

“Over the last decade, the number of FSW applications received has greatly exceeded the space available within the Immigration Levels Plan each year, resulting in long processing times and an increasing inventory,” CIC said.

“Under the 2008 Action Plan for Faster Immigration, CIC began to limit intake to priority occupations. The Department added caps to the number of new applications in 2010.

“As a result of these efforts, CIC has reduced the pre-2008 backlog by more than 50 percent, and the overall FSW inventory by over 25 percent.

“However, without further action, some FSW applicants might have to wait until 2017 for a decision.

“It’s unreasonable to keep applicants waiting for another five years,” said Minister Kenney. “It’s also a far cry from the nimble and responsive immigration system Canada needs to remain a destination of choice.”

The decision has attracted criticism from immigration consultants. “While it is a good news that the old applicants don’t have to wait for a long period to know the outcome of their applications, this problem should have been addressed much sooner,” said a consultant, who did not wish to reveal their name.

However, another consultant was more critical.  “These people have had the rug pulled out from underneath them,” Montreal-based lawyer David Chalk told CBC News.

“The government of Canada invited people who had certain qualifications to apply, these people invested time energy and hope.”

Loans Money News Study Abroad

Tax changes to affect many Kiwis on 1 April

Changes to student Loan, KiwiSaver and Working-for-Families scheme are likely to affect thousands of New Zealanders on 1 April.

A number of these changes take effect from 1 April 2012 for student loan borrowers, KiwiSaver members and people receiving Working for Families Tax Credits.

The changes to student loans are designed to reduce the possibility of borrowers defaulting on their loans, and help address the overall size of student loan debt, says Inland Revenue Acting Customer Services Manager, Denis McDermott.

“Borrowers will get a more up to date balance for their loan, and will see changes around the length of repayment holidays if they go overseas, late payment penalties and some other aspects of the scheme.

“If you’re earning salary or wages you must add “SL” to your tax code and make repayments when you earn more than the pay period repayment threshold of $367 a week.

“If you want to pay off your loan faster, you can make extra repayments. You can pay Inland Revenue directly or ask your employer to make extra deductions.”

McDermott says KiwiSaver members will also see changes from April.

“The employer contribution will be taxed and the members’ tax credit also changes for the year ending June 2012 onwards, up to a maximum of $521 a year.”

Changes to abatement rates for Working for Families Tax Credits also take effect in April.

People can find out more about the changes to Student Loans, KiwiSaver and Working for Families Tax Credits at

Education Global Indians Study Abroad

Admissions to Indian institutes for NRI kids open soon

Admissions process will soon begin for NRI children keen to pursue undergraduate studies in India for the academic year 2012-13.

Indian government runs a special scheme – Direct Admission of Students Abroad (DASA),  for undergraduate courses in engineering for foreign nationals and persons of Indian origin (PIOs), non-resident Indians (NRIs).

These courses are run in the prestigious National Institutes of Technology (NITs), Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) and other premier technical institutions in India. Students from more than 30 countries have been admitted under DASA so far, and the admission process, which is entirely online, will begin on 1 April.

Candidates can fill an online application form and make payment of fee electronically. This can then be followed by a signed copy of the online application form along with documents submitted to NITK, Surathkal, which is the co-ordinating institute for the courses.

The seats will be allotted based on SAT subject test scores and the preferences identified by the candidate. The application process is simple and involves creating an account, filling the form online and posting the form.

More importantly, the residential requirement for 2012-13 is relaxed from three years to two years for NRI candidates.

The PDF brochure can be downloaded online. 


Students must have passed the qualifying examination, i.e. Senior Secondary [10+2] or equivalent, with Physics and Mathematics as compulsory subjects and any one of Chemistry, Bio-technology, Computer Science, Biology as optional subjects.
Students must have secured a minimum of 60% aggregate marks or 6.75 CGPA on a 10 point scale or equivalent grades in all the subjects of the qualifying examination. Candidates appearing for the qualifying examination with the above-mentioned compulsory subjects by 25 May
2012 and expecting their final results latest by 15 September 2012 may also apply.
Candidates should have a minimum total score of 1440 in SAT Subject Tests (subjects: Maths level II, Physics and Chemistry).

First Year Tuition Fee $7,000 and non-refundable registration Fee $250 (total of $7250) must be paid along with the application form.
Foreign nationals from SAARC countries (except India) are entitled to a 50% Tuition fee waiver.  The fee can be paid either through Bank Transfer or Demand Draft or e-payment.

Similar scheme is also available for post-graduate studies – DASA PG (Post Graduate) Programme 2012 and the online application process will begin on 10 May 2012. Read the DASA PG 2012 brochure .

The Indian government also runs many other education programmes for the children of Indian Diaspora.

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Of sex, alcohol and a shattered dream

A dentist from India who migrated to Australia for a better future could not have bargained for a worse nightmare that involved alcohol, sex and misjudgment – none of which was his fault.

In what started like a typical story of a qualified migrant driving a taxi in Australia, ended in a sad saga of a young man stripped of everything he had.

Prabhjit Gill came to Australia with the hope of practising medicine and fuilfilling his dollar dream.

The 37-year old dentist realised that his Indian medical accreditation had to be accepted in Australia before he could practice. While he waited for his Indian qualification to be approved, he started driving a cab to pay for expenses.

Shattered Prabhjit Gill (Photo: Channel Ten)

However, what unfolded soon was a series of events which saw Gill’s plans being watered down. He was arrested on charges of raping a drunk passenger. While the trial went on, his taxi license was cancelled by the Department of Transport.

After months of trial, he was acquitted by Perth District Court jury of raping a 25-year-old passenger.

Now he is a free man with no money, no registered qualification and no license to drive a cab. And there’s social and cultural stigma that he will have to live with not just in Australia but also in his home country – India.

Apparently, it is common for female passengers to offer sexual favours as payment to cabbies. Gill says that he knew of up to 60 drivers who had been offered sex, and he was offered oral sex as payment for fares two or three times a month.

Gill says he never accepted such favours.

He was accused alongwith another cabbie, 32-year old Amrit Pal Singh, who was convicted of raping the woman in the taxi.

Singh, the court was told, sexually violated the woman who was heavily drunk from a night of drinking at a hen’s party on 5 February 2011.

The same woman accused Gill of trying to have sex with her while she was in Singh’s taxi.

Gill says that all he did was deliver drinks to Singh at the car park where the woman was raped.

Interestingly, Gill also throws light on another concerning fact. He says that the Taxi Council and Swan Taxis (his employer) knew of drivers accepting sex for payment.

However, in support of his employer, Gill says that, during training, new cabbies are warrned about sex-for-fare passengers, and are trained to refuse such gestures.

It is illegal for drivers to have sex in a taxi, according to Taxi Council of WA chief executive Olwyn Williams.

Gill is so shaken by the experience that he says he no longer wants to drive a taxi for the fear of being accused again.

He has lost thousands of dollars in applications to have his accreditation accepted and his residency granted, because of the trial.

“I lost everything. If I want to become a dentist I have to start [from] the very first English test, it’s going to take me two to three years [and] another $20-30,000… where am I going to get it? I have no idea,” he says.

He now drives a truck and is still committed to completing his training for pursue his career as a dentist.


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Council creates jobs for graduates

New Zealand’s largest city is opening its doors for young people in an initiative that will provide around 230 work experience opportunities to 18-24 year olds.

Auckland’s largest employer, Auckland Council has joined hands with the Auckland Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of Social Development to hire young people from two youth employment programmes – CadetMax and Limited Service Volunteers.

The council expects at least a dozen young people will begin work this month, with 50 placements expected over the first three months. The council employs 8000 staff in 55 departments and seven council-controlled companies.

More than 2000 young Aucklanders leave school each year without qualifications, and 15-19 year olds are the most over-represented group in unemployment statistics.

The Limited Service Volunteers programme is a free six-week motivational training course run by the New Zealand Defence Force, and CadetMax offers young people, who are referred to the Ministry of Social Development, guidance to achieve their career goals. These volunteers will have undertaken substantial career counselling and pre screening. As the programme develops and there is an increasing demand from Auckland Council for young people, the Auckland Chamber and Work and Income will source young job seekers from other programmes and avenues.

“Work experience is vitally important for young people looking for that first job,” says New Zealand’s Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

“These placements will be an opportunity for young Aucklanders to get on-the-job experience while exploring a potential career,” she says.

Th Auckland Chamber Chief Executive, Michael Barnett, says the benefits to not only Auckland’s economy but New Zealand’s workforce development are greatly increased with one organisation making a commitment to invest a small amount of time in young people who are undoubtedly the future of what we want Auckland to be.

“However, this is only one organisation and we challenge businesses throughout Auckland to make work experience available to our young people.”

The initiative will target up to 1000 work experience placements for young career starters.

The work experience will engage enemployed young people in work activity and help build networks of people who have employment opportunities within the council.


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Forum for migrants to share issues

New immigrants to New Zealand will discuss their concerns and share feedback about their migration experience at a forum in Auckland this month.

Auckland Regional Migrant Services (ARMS) is reconvening its Local Settlement Network Meeting at Auckland’s Fickling Centre  on 23 February.

It is an important opportunity for local service providers and newcomers to network and share ideas; identify issues being experienced by our Auckland Central migrants and refugee communities; and find ways to collaborate on those issues, says Shoma Prasad, regional communications and marketing coordinator for ARMS.

The objective of the forum is “to explore good practice ideas for assisting newcomers (migrants and refugees) to acquire key/relevant skills and knowledge to gain employment – from a range of perspectives,” says Prasad.

Date: Thursday, 23 February 2012

Time: 9.00am – 2.00pm

Venue: Hillsborough Room, Fickling Centre, 546 Mount Albert Road, Three Kings.

RSVP: by Thursday, 16 February 2012 to Joseph Ngui, Settlement Support Coordinator – Auckland Central on (09) 625 3093 or email:

Immigration Study Abroad Work Abroad

Australia dabs Indian overstayers

During one of the frequent operations, Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship has detained 12 visa overstatyers and illegal works in Gatton, Queensland.

The joint Queensland Police roadside operation located the 12 men – of whom 11 were visa overstayers while one was suspected of working illegally – who are from a number of countries including India and Indonesia.

A department spokesperson says they have detained nine of the men in Brisbane, pending their planned removal to their home countries.

 “In relation to the other three people, one has been granted a bridging visa on departure grounds, another has been granted a bridging visa and can now make an application for a substantive visa, and the other, who is a lawful visa holder, has been counselled regarding his visa conditions and illegal work,” the spokesman added.

The spokesman said the department would be issuing illegal worker warning notices to relevant work contractors or farm owners in Gatton.

“The department’s compliance operations serve as a warning to the community that they can face serious consequences for remaining in Australia without a valid visa or for employing illegal workers,” the spokesman said.

“It is the responsibility of employers to ensure that non-Australian workers they hire hold a visa with valid work rights.”

Employers convicted under Commonwealth legislation of having illegal workers face fines of up to $13 200 and two years’ imprisonment while companies face fines of up to $66 000 per illegal worker.

The Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) service is available to employers to check the relevant identification details of prospective employees, with their consent, to quickly confirm if they are eligible to work in Australia.

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Migrating together more difficult than going alone – study

“In sickness and health” could be a wedding vow, but when it comes to moving to a new country, you would be better doing it alone than moving with a less enthusiastic partner, a study has found.

Victoria University of Wellington’s researcher Aidan Tabor and her advisor, Dr Taciano Milfont, researched the experiences of 95 British immigrants before their move to New Zealand, and found that one in three migrants were either an enthusiastic “driver” of the move or a less willing “trailing” spouse.

Moving to a new country can be emotionally challenging, as the “drivers” experience more stress and trailing spouses had lower wellbeing than people coming on their own or with an equally enthusiastic partner.

Such emotional challenges add to the already complex issues of logistics, finances and career.

Researcher Aidan Tabor

“Normally, spouses provide support to each other during stressful times, but ‘drivers’ felt they got less support from their less enthusiastic partner,” says Tabor.

Tabor moved to New Zealand from the United States three years ago with her family. She is researching into how migrants select a destination country including participants from the UK, South Africa and India.

The study found that enthusiastic migrants are more likely to adapt well and be happy in their new home but it will be harder for those that didn’t want to shift.

Unfortunately, the news only gets worse. “Extended families tended to withdraw support when they heard that their loved ones were moving to New Zealand.

The situation is particularly delicate for couples with children.

“The ones who felt the least support are those who have had to tell grandparents they’re taking the grandchildren to the other side of the world.”

What’s the way out? Tell your families you plan to return to the UK. “In these cases, extended family members were very supportive of the move,” Tabor says.

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Teenagers face racism in New Zealand – study

Teenagers from ethnic and minority groups face many instances of discrimination based on race, a recent study has found.

The survey of more than 9000 randomly selected secondary school students in New Zealand revealed that there were significant ethnic differences in the prevalence of ethnic discrimination.

More than half of the students, selected from a nationally representative cross-sectional sample, who experienced ethnic discrimination were less likely to report good health, or feel safe in their neighbourhood. They were also more likely to report an episode of binge drinking in the previous four weeks.

Experiencing ethnic discrimination has been associated with a range of adverse health outcomes, say the researchers – Sue Crengle, Elizabeth Robinson, Shanthi Ameratunga, Terryann Clark and Deborah Raphael.

Within each ethnic group participants reporting ethnic discrimination were more likely to have adverse outcomes for depression, cigarette smoking, and self-rated school achievement.

Ethnic discrimination is more commonly reported by indigenous and minority group students, the study revealed. Both experiencing and being ‘unsure’ about experiencing ethnic discrimination are associated with a range of adverse health/wellbeing outcomes.

“Our findings highlight the progress yet to be made to ensure that rights to be free from ethnic discrimination are met for young people living in New Zealand.”

Read the full report (PDF).

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New Zealand school successfully uses Sankrit to teach English

A mainstream school in New Zealand is teaching India’s ancient language, Sanskrit, to it pupils to build their foundation for the English language.

Auckland-based Ficino School is New Zealand’s only mainstream school to not only teach the Indian language but also to be strongly influenced by Indian cultural and philosophical thinking.

“It is my view, that through the teaching of Sanskrit, the source language of: Latin, Greek, German, French and of course English, we give our children access to the very essence of language: An insider’s guide to the workings of language,” says the school principal, Peter Crompton.

Principal Peter Crompton

Sanskrit with its “almost perfect grammatical system” provides children with a roadmap for understanding English, says Crompton. “We can all agree that English is definitely not the easiest of languages to get to grips with. To learn English grammar is extremely useful. It helps pupils write and read with increased precision and clarity. Certainly, this is something of use to students when they progress to secondary and tertiary study.

“Sanskrit not only gives young learners a clear understanding of the structure of language, it also heightens their awareness of the process of speech, creating a greater understanding of and ability to, enunciate words clearly.

Taking things ‘back to basics’, is not a new approach for Ficino, “and it works” says the principal. It is a practice we’ve followed since the school was founded in 1997, and is based on the curriculum developed by our sister school, the St James School in London.

“I am very proud of the success we’ve had with our own reading scheme. We’ve seen first hand the value of teaching Sanskrit, coupled with the use of the St James Reading Scheme in their first 2-3 years has had on accelerating a child’s reading ability. By age 8, many of our students are reading between 2-4 years above their chronological age, demonstrating significant added value.”

However, it’s not just the language that makes this school different. Here, the teachers move up year by year with their class. “This helps support the child with a good balance of love and discipline. The long term relationship forms a close and caring bond between teacher and pupil which is beneficial to learning,” says the school website.

“As time goes by, families tend to find that the teacher becomes a steady professional friend of the family. It is also more efficient as teachers do not need to spend the first few months of the year familiarising themselves with the children’s abilities and needs.”

Embracing the Indian cultural values, the school also offers meditation opportunities to students.

“Short periods of quiet time are offered daily in which youngsters over the age of 10 may meditate, contemplate, pray or quietly reflect accordingly.”

However, the school is not affiliated to a specific religion, though it “enjoys the support of the local community parish and hold services at St Barnabas Church.”

“The Christian religion is given particular prominence because Christianity is recognised as the basis of the culture of the nation we find ourselves in,” says the school.

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Over 13,700 immigrants to get Australian citizenship

While 26 January resonates with the Indian Republic Day for many overseas Indians, it also holds a special meaning for Indians in Australia.

As many as 13,700 migrants in Australia, including Indians, will receive their citizenship on the Australia Day – 26 January.  But it is not just new citizens that will take pride in their country on this day.

Thousands of Australians will celebrate their citizenship on Australia Day by taking part in an Australian citizenship affirmation ceremony (different to citizenship ceremony for new citizens).

More than 125 local councils across the nation are including the affirmation ceremonies as part of their Australia Day celebrations.

The ceremonies,  introduced in 1999 as an opportunity for existing citizens to express their pride and loyalty to the nation, involve a recitation of an affirmation based on the Australian citizenship pledge, which is made by new citizens at their citizenship ceremonies.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) said the popularity of affirmation ceremonies continues to grow with more and more existing Australian citizens affirming their commitment to Australia at stand-alone events as well as at citizenship ceremonies.

“We have seen a growing trend of councils, aged care facilities, community organisations and schools conducting affirmation ceremonies on special occasions such as Australia Day,” a departmental spokesman said.

“It’s also the perfect occasion for all Australians – whether citizens by birth or by choice – to express their commitment to the nation and each other through participating in an affirmation ceremony.

“Through citizenship and affirmation ceremonies, we reflect on the freedoms, responsibilities and privileges that go hand-in-hand with being an Australian.

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Sri Lankan man dead in immigration detention

A Sri Lankan man has died in a government-run facility in Sydney.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has confirmed a man died at the Sydney Immigration Residential Housing (IRH).

The Sri Lankan man was discovered in distress in his accommodation at the facility.

“An ambulance was called immediately and they commenced CPR but the man was pronounced dead shortly after midnight,” said a DIAC spokesman.

“Police were called to the scene and will investigate the circumstances around the man’s death which is expected to become the subject of a Coroner’s inquest.”

Counsellors will be available to assist and support the facility’s detainees and staff today, and throughout the week.

Until the deceased’s next of kin overseas are informed, the department has refused to release further details regarding the man’s age or the circumstances of his detention.

Opened in 2006, the Sydney Immigration Residential Housing (IRH) is located adjacent to the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre.

Why are people detained in Australia

Australia’s immigration detention policy was introduced in 1992.

Australia’s Migration Act 1958 requires people who are not Australian citizens and who are unlawfully in Australia to be detained, says the Australian Immigration Department’s website. Unless they are given legal permission to remain in Australia by being granted a visa unlawful non-citizens must be removed from Australia as soon as reasonably practicable, the site says.

However the detention is not to be confused with prison.

“Immigration detention is not used to punish people. It is an administrative function.”

Who are illegal immigrants in Australia

People who are not Australian citizens are ‘unlawful’ if they do not have a valid visa giving them permission to be in Australia. Usually, ‘unlawful non-citizens’ are people who have:

  • arrived in Australia without a visa
  • overstayed their visa
  • had their visa cancelled.

How are people treated in a detention facility

The Immigration department says that care and security of accommodation for people in immigration detention is based on humane principles and standards. “A suite of immigration detention placements have been developed to place people in immigration detention in living arrangements that are appropriate to their needs.”

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Staff gets cultural training

A New Zealand education institute has taken a step closer toward embracing cultural diversity in its workforce.

Auckland-based Unitec Institute of Technology employs 1100 staff from different ethnicities, serving 10,000 students hailing from a diverse cultural backgrounds.

The institute now runs diversity workshops for its workforce, designed by the Office of Ethnic Affairs.


The  Intercultural Awareness and Communication workshops helps staff to build awareness of their cultural characteristics and those of others, so they can communicate more effectively, says a report by the Office. The programme focuses on using effective communication to build the kinds of relationships that work well in the workplace.

It was critical to initiate something to improve intercultural competence across the institute considering Unitec’s super diversity, says Matthew Farry, Manager of Equity and Diversity at Unitec, in the report.

“The training is intended to take intercultural interactions across our organisation from a state of indifferent co-existence to meaningful engagement across social and cultural boundaries.”

Kate Quigan, Unitec’s International Administration Manager, says “the training helps us to stop making quick assumptions about people we come in contact with, and to appreciate the differences and be aware of the similarities as well.”

Ricky Waters, Unitec’s Co-ordinating Chaplain noted that “it was a great seminar, especially for those with limited experience dealing with people from other cultures as well as those who have not lived in a culturally diverse place before.”

Twenty Unitec staff took part in the “Training for Trainers” workshop and have now started to train their colleagues, the report said.