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Will Australia say sorry for ‘No Indians’ advert?

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard should apologize over the underlying racist attitudes in Australia as exhibited in the recent “no Indians” offensive job ad in Tasmania, says an Indian leader.

An advertisement, reportedly appearing on Gumtree website, announced “positions available for experienced cleaners in supermarket” at a Coles supermarket in Hobart, but added “No Indians or Asians should apply”. Launched in 1914, Coles is said to be Australia’s second-biggest chain with over 13 million weekly customers and over 750 stores.

Rajan Zed, an Indian community leader in the United States, said that it was highly disturbing to note that such racist attitudes still existed in 21st century Australia, a culturally diverse society now. The “others” had contributed greatly to the Australian economy, academia and business despite such apparent “barriers”, he noted.

Rajan stressed that anti-racism initiatives were immediately required in Australia and it needed to do deep introspection of its heart and be kind to immigrants, minorities, indigenous people, and other vulnerable groups. Gillard’s public apology would send a strong message against xenophobia.

Rajan argued that Australia seemed to be lacking in human rights culture and it needed to do a lot to become a fully civilized society and to stay competitive globally. It still reportedly did not have a charter of rights and its human rights framework needed an urgent reform.

Zed pointed out that there had been various incidents of racist violence against Indians in the recent past. In 2011, a popular radio host reportedly termed Hindus’ holy river Ganga as “junkyard” and India a “shit hole”, thus belittling the entire community.

Last year, inappropriate displaying of an image of Hindu Goddess Lakshmi on swimwear at a Sydney fashion event and depiction of highly revered Hindu deities Lord Ganesh, Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu in “Ganesh Versus the Third Reich” play in Melbourne caused protests. Hindus and Jews had asked Queensland to treat all major religions evenly in the past, according to whose Education Act, “Instruction…may be given in State primary and special schools during school hours in selected Bible lessons.”

Rajan’s requests to read opening prayers in Australia House of Representatives, Tasmania House of Assembly and Victoria Legislative Assembly in the past were denied, where Lord’s Prayer, a well-known prayer in Christianity, was read regularly.

A report by Australia Human Rights Commission, a statutory organization that reports to the federal Parliament, in the past highlighted “a lack of constitutional protection against racial discrimination in Australia” and talked about “absence of any entrenched guarantee against racial discrimination that would override the law of the Commonwealth”.

Battle against racism would need effective solutions, amends, compensation, rights recognition, public education programs, etc., at various levels besides developing a “bill of rights” as a high-priority, Rajan said.

A highly developed country and with the second-highest human development index, Commonwealth of Australia ranks as one of the best places in the world to live. Sixth-largest in the world, this country of kangaroo and koala is known for its natural beauty and has the longest continuous cultural history. Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Quentin Bryce, is head of state. Ian McLeod is Managing Director of Coles.

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Experience the life of a refugee with iPhone App

United Nations refugee agency

“Every minute eight people are forced to flee war, persecution or terror. If conflict threatened your family, what would you do if each choice you have to make could be a matter of life or death?”

That’s the question every refugee faces, and now, you can experience the life as a refugee, with a new smartphone application.

Developed by United Nations High Commission for Refugees’ (UNHCR), the app is based on real life experiences of refugees.

Aptly titled “My Life As a Refugee”, the app lets players face a series of tough decisions and chance events in this life-like quest of survival.

United Nations refugee agency

The smartphone application allows users to live the life of a refugee and encounter typical every day decisions with potentially devastating results, says a statement issued by ACW who developed the app.

“It hopes to make a real difference by raising awareness surrounding the inhumane conditions that refugees have to suffer.

“The three stories within this free app are based on the real-life experiences of families torn apart by conflict or persecution.”

The role-play revolves around three main characters who have been forced to flee. Months or years of narrative are compressed into each of the stories.

Players have to make decisions along the way in order to reach safety.

The events and outcome of each story depend on the decisions that the player makes, resulting in a potentially different experience every time.

Built for iOS and Android, the app can be downloaded on iPhones, iPads and Android phones.

The app contains three real-life situations:

• Would you ever pay a smuggler to help you escape?

• Imagine the terror of being caught by the army you were escaping from?

• What lengths would you go to be reunited with your family?

“Future updates will introduce new characters and scenarios, engaging audiences around other dimensions of the refugee experience,” says the developer.

While the initial version is in English, the game will be rolled out in other languages over the coming months.

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NZ students protest outside PM’s conference

Many groups from New Zealand’s education sector protested against education budget cuts by the National-led government in Auckland. New Zealand students marched from Auckland’s Britomart to SkyCity Convention Centre, where Prime Minister is attending the National Party Conference.

The ‘Show and Tell’ protest was an opportunity for a range of groups to “show their discontent and tell the truth about attacks on education,” say the organisers. The representatives of the PPTA, NZEI and student movement groups spoke about the impact of the government’s education cuts on their sectors.

Teachers are the experts in education, says Lynley Hunter, Auckland Regional Chairperson of the PPTA. “Ask them how to improve education for everyone.”

Frances Guy from the NZEI says the changes were “about privatisation, charter schools, league tables and performance pay,” and that “every child is entitled to the best teachers.”

One parent of three special-needs children says, “only one in 100 children who apply for Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) funding get it.”

Representing tertiary students, Jai Bentley-Payne, a postgraduate student and tutor in the sociology department at the University of Auckland, believes that students are not included in the government plans.

“Every time we hear about the plans of our government, they are notable for who is not included. Students are not included. Workers are not included. Poor people are not included. Women are not included. The marginalised, harassed and dispossessed are not included.

“Thousands more students will be forced to borrow to eat. Fifteen percent already live in absolute financial distress.

“We have some of the highest fees in the world, and $13 billion worth of student debt. We have forgotten what education is for. It is not a private investment scheme, it is for all of us to solve the big problems we face together.”

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NZ employer fined for injury

A sawmill in New Zealand’s Kawerau was fined $20,000 after an employee sustained multiple fractures when he became trapped in a conveyor belt.

Sequal Lumber Limited Partnership was also ordered to pay reparations of $8,000 following the accident on 4 September last year.

The Whakatane District Court heard that an employee of Sequal Lumber was shovelling bark onto the conveyor belt when the accident happened.

“The employee dropped his shovel, tripped over it and fell onto the conveyor belt, trapping his right arm between the conveyer and its pulley,” says central region health and safety manager for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Ona De Rooy.

The employee was seriously injured as a result. He suffered multiple fractures, including a fracture to his right arm, several broken ribs and lacerations.

“This is yet another unacceptable example of an employer failing to take the steps required to keep their workers safe on the job. All too often employees are seriously injured at work, when it is their fundamental right to go home safe at the end of their working day,” Ona says.

“This accident could have been prevented if Sequal Lumber had put in place adequate machine guarding. We encourage all employers to familiarise themselves with the machine guarding information available on the MBIE’s website, as well as our other information on keeping safe at work,” Ona says.

What does the law say:

Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, states:

Every employer shall take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employees while at work; and in particular shall take all practicable steps to—

· (a) provide and maintain for employees a safe working environment; and

· (b) provide and maintain for employees while they are at work facilities for their safety and health; and

· (c) ensure that plant used by any employee at work is so arranged, designed, made, and maintained that it is safe for the employee to use; and

· (d) ensure that while at work employees are not exposed to hazards arising out of the arrangement, disposal, manipulation, organisation, processing, storage, transport, working, or use of things—

· (i) in their place of work; or

· (ii) near their place of work and under the employer’s control; and

· (e) develop procedures for dealing with emergencies that may arise while employees are at work.

Immigration News Work Abroad

Employer fined for exploiting staff

An Australian court has fined an employer for exploiting a worker. A Federal Magistrates Court has fined  Sahan Enterprises Pty Ltd for underpaying a worker by $10 000.

The Victorian 457 visa sponsor has been fined  $35 000 and costs of almost $11 000.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) welcomed the court decision that emphasised the need to deter other employer sponsors from breaching their obligations.

This is the first time action had been brought before the courts under the Migration Legislation Amendment (Worker Protection) Act 2008.

The court found Sahan had failed two of the obligations: the obligation to pay equivalent terms and conditions, and the obligation to keep appropriate pay records.

A departmental spokesman said the department will not tolerate abuse of the skilled migration program and this finding should send a strong signal to sponsors that they must fulfil their sponsorship obligations.

“Sponsors found to be doing the wrong thing by the department’s inspectors may be subject to administrative sanctions, an infringement or civil litigation, as in the case of Sahan Enterprises.”

During the monitoring process, inspectors uncovered failures of the sponsorship obligations. The sponsor was initially served with an infringement notice and asked to repay the visa holder.

The sponsor did not comply with the requests and the matter was referred to the courts for a civil penalty.

The spokesman said the court finding represents a significant win and underscores the strength and importance of the reforms embodied in the Migration Legislation Amendment (Worker Protection) Act 2008 (the Worker Protection Act) sponsorship obligations.

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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.

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Detaining refugees is ineffective – expert

New Zealand Government’s proposed group detention policy appears to be following the failed policies of Australia, says an international authority on detained asylum seekers.

Professor Derrick Silove  is in New Zealand to warn New Zealand politicians they have a lot to learn from failures across the Tasman.

“Instead of providing rehabilitation for refugees, governments have gone to costly lengths to reproduce the environment of fear from which these people have fled, hindering psychological recovery,” he says.

Derrick is the director of psychiatry research and teaching at the Mental Health Centre at the University of New South Wales. He is coming to New Zealand as the keynote speaker at the fifth International Asian and Ethnic Minority Health and Wellbeing Conference 2012, hosted by the University of Auckland.

Derrick has helped in setting up services for traumatic stress among refugees in Australia and internationally in post-conflict societies, such as Timor Leste.

He has led teams to study the effects of Australian detention policies on women and children in refugee camps.

“Centres in Australia, such as the newly established facility in Woomera, are situated in isolated areas surrounded by barbed-wire fences with huge distances limiting access by social, health and legal services,” Derrick says.

“Detainees in this and other centres around the world face undefined periods of social and cultural isolation while often being denied access to work and study.

“They live in constant uncertainty about their futures with the ever-present threat of being forced back home.

“Alternative systems to detention have been tested and already are in place in many countries such as systems that monitor asylum seekers living in the community, lodging financial bonds by families, friends, or humanitarian agencies to ensure refugee applicants follow immigration procedures and even temporary forms of asylum.”

Derrick says each provision allows asylum seekers to live with dignity and a degree of freedom in the community.

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Australia lowers pass mark for skilled migrants

In an desperate attempt to increase the number of skilled professionals migrating to Australia, the immigration department has lowered the threshhold for skilled migrants.

From July 1, the pass mark for points tested skilled migrants who complete an expression of interest (EOI) through SkillSelect is being lowered from 65 points to 60 points.

The Australian government has been changing its skilled migrants’ policy since 2008.

“These reforms have ensured the skilled migration program is a responsive and demand driven program,” a Department of Immigration and Citizenship spokesman says.

Under the new SkillSelect electronic service, prospective migrants without an employer sponsor wanting to live and work in Australia can complete an online EOI. Based on claims of their skills and attributes, they will be allocated a score against the points test. SkillSelect will rank intending migrant’s scores against other EOIs.

The highest ranking migrants across a broad range of occupations may be invited to apply for a skilled visa.

“Delivery of a balanced migration program requires careful management,” the spokesman said. “SkillSelect will provide greater control over who can apply for a skilled visa and when they can apply.”

The previous pass mark was appropriate in the context of the skilled migration reforms, with a greater emphasis on employer-sponsored skilled migration and managing a growing pipeline of unsponsored skilled migration applications, says a statement issued by Australia’s immigration department.

“The revised pass mark will encourage a broader range of people with the skills and attributes needed in Australia to register their interest in migration.”

Also read: How to get a job in Australia

Business Editor recommends Immigration News Work Abroad

How to get a job in Australia

Lure of high-paying jobs in Australia in a range of sectors, from mining to information technology, is attracting skilled professionals from neighbouring countries like New Zealand as well as from far away destinations like the UK, Ireland, America, Canada and India.

The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) has forced migrants from New Zealand, the US, Canada and the UK to look for high-paying jobs in Australia, which seems to have escaped the great economic recession. Certain sectors like mining have been hiring, and paying well to skilled employees from New Zealand. Job expos for jobs in Australia have recently attracted record number of attendance in Auckland.

A recent media report even suggested that Australian mining companies were offering fly Kiwis to Australia for five weeks, and then fly them back to New Zealand for a paid holiday for three weeks, offering high salaries for these long-commute jobs. This move hasn’t been well-received in Australia where local workers are struggling to get well-paying jobs.

The Australian government, in the meantime, is keen to attract highly-skilled migrants, especially in the upcoming sectors like technology. Australia promises higher wages, good weather, lifestyle and plenty of job opportunities.

A keen migrant can apply for 457 visa, which will allow them to work in selected fields in Australia for up to four years as long as they have a job offer. Once in Australia on 457 visa, many professionals then aim to convert their 457 visa to permanent residency, before becoming an Australian citizen.

The 457 Visa occupations List is prepared by the Australian Government to identify specific occupation shortages in Australia. When applying for a 457 visa, the applicant should demonstrate their work experience and/or qualifications that match an occupation that is on the 457 List.

A list of job descriptions of 457 visa occupations.

Use this job description to confirm if the tasks you have completed for your occupation meet the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) requirements.

The list includes many IT jobs such as business analysts, systems analysts, analyst/programmers, developers and telecommunications engineers which are in short supply. The Global Indian magazine understands from some Australian recruitment agents that many of these jobs are difficult to be filled from the existing talent pool in the country.

How to get a 457 visa for work in Australia?

You can apply for a job in your field in Australia. If an employer likes you, they can sponsor your work visa (457 visa). This may seem daunting, but many Australian employees are struggling to fill positions and are willing to hire from overseas as long as they can find a suitable candidate for the job.

If this doesn’t work, then you can register yourself with a labour hire company. Such company can get you to Australia on a 457 visa and you can then work for different companies as a contractor. Essentially, you will be paid by the labour hire company but you will be working for some other company.

This may sound like a strange arrangement, but it is becoming increasingly popular as it makes it easy for talented professionals to work in Australia, while it provides a diverse pool of talent to choose from for the Australian employers.

But you may wonder: Is there a skills shortage in Australia, especially in the IT sector?

The ICT professionals are the third-most difficult set of professionals to hire, after corporate service managers and engineering professionals, as per the March quarter Clarius index released in June 2012. This is largely driven by the uncertainty caused by global financial crisis.

Australia’s Westpac CIO Clive Whincup was quoted last month that he doesn’t think the bank will ever be able to hire the number of workers that it requires, making it lean heavily on outsourcing. His comments followed similar words in 2011 from his counterpart at ANZ, Ann Weatherston, who said that the skills shortage and a lack of IT graduates are accelerating the bank’s move to offshore its IT workforce.

Another Australian company, De Bortoli, found that the company’s location makes it difficult to find good employees, and as such it hires and trains talented locals and ex-locals, and uses cadetships and 457 visas.

Peoplebank, a labour hire company, believes that the difficulty of finding good hires will only get worse when the economies around the world improve.

Peoplebank CEO Peter Acheson told ZDNet Australia that certain skills would become tight again very quickly once the market picks up.

To be able to get a 457 visa, the employee should have relevant qualification; but more importantly, they should have relevant experience in their chosen field, for at least two years before applying for 457 visa.

Apart from making the visa process smoother, there’s one more advantage of working for a labour hire company – they have an obligation to keep the visa-holder employed for the entire duration of the visa.

Finally, you can come to Australia even without a job offer. You can get a visa based on points which are in turn based on your work experience. You can also migrate on a business visa.

How to get a job in Australia

  • Research: Visit various Australian job sites well before your intended time of migration. Getting a job takes time
  • Be flexible. Keep an open mind, and be prepared to compromise in the short-term for some long-run gains. You can compromise on the location, industry, position level and salary to start with
  • Permanent resident visa: While you keep trying to get a job offer from an employer that can sponsor you, you should also apply for permanent residency. This shows your eagerness to settle in Australia
  • Wider reach: In addition to applying for advertised jobs in Australia, widen your net and send your CV to companies you would like to work for, whether they have advertised a job or not.
  • Network: Use social media, including LinkedIn, and other networks like your industry body, to make connections in Australia. Remember, 70% of the jobs are not advertised.
  • Revise your cover letter and CV to match the Australian style
  • Be prepared to visit Australia for job interviews at short notice
  • Patience: Don’t expect things to work out for you overnight.
  • Enjoy: Migration can be a great learning experience, or a stressful nightmare, depending on your attitude.
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Scam mobile apps for jobs in Australia

AppsITjobsAustralia

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.

AppsITjobsAustralia

“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.

Business Work Abroad

New Zealand’s little known partner

Indonesia is New Zealand’s nearest Asian neighbour, the world’s fourth most populous country, and has a rapidly growing economy. But a new Asia New Zealand Foundation (Asia:NZ) report highlights the gap between its significance to New Zealand and our engagement with it.

In the report Indonesia and its Significance for New Zealand, author Frank Wilson writes that Indonesia has a positive outlook for sustained economic growth; a rapidly growing middle class; and a crop-based agricultural sector that is complementary to – rather than competitive with – New Zealand’s.

But Indonesia is “very foreign” to most New Zealanders. “As New Zealand’s nearest neighbour in Asia, Indonesia is surprisingly little known by most New Zealanders.” Awareness of New Zealand is also low in Indonesia.

People-to-people links between the two countries are weak. “Levels of tourism and education exchanges are under-developed relative to other comparable Asian countries. The Indonesian community in New Zealand is small and Indonesian studies programmes are non-existent.”

Indonesia is among New Zealand’s top 10 trading partners. Frank writes that bilateral trade in primary products is expected to grow, and trade in services such as tourism, education, engineering, consulting and IT is also “ripe for attention and expansion”.

“There seems to be such a natural complementary between our economy and the Indonesian economy, which is certainly agriculture – but cereals, rice and so on – and minerals.

“In the traditional areas of trade there are obviously tremendous opportunities, as well as new areas.”

Asia:NZ’s director of policy and research Dr Andrew Butcher says a quick succession of announcements made in recent months show Indonesia’s growing significance to New Zealand.

In February, Air New Zealand announced the introduction of direct flights between Auckland and Bali, starting later this month. During his visit to Jakarta in April, Prime Minister John Key announced four cooperation agreements with Indonesia covering agriculture, environment, labour and geothermal energy. He also announced New Zealand would be appointing a new trade commissioner to the region.

“These are good steps in the right direction,” Andrew says. “But there is more to be done. Our interest in Indonesia should not be limited to its benefit to New Zealand’s trade.

“Indonesia is a key regional player in groupings like ASEAN and the G20. New Zealand needs to pay attention to what Indonesia is doing in the region, particularly at a time of shifting power balances.

“This has to be a two-way relationship. While New Zealand needs to see that Indonesia is indeed a significant partner, it also needs to offer its own valuable contributions to Indonesia and to the region.”

Health Lifestyle Work Abroad

Women feel unsafe in New Zealand – report

Many women are fearful about the crime culture in New Zealand, are tired of sex, and are resorting to desperate measures to succeed in life.

These are just some of the findings of the 2012 NEXT Report, to be published in the next month’s issue of the NEXT magazine.

The Nielsen survey of 1000 Kiwi women over 15 years of age provides for some concerning findings:

  • Only 5% of Kiwi women believe equality is a complete reality in New Zealand in 2012.
  • One in 20 working women are taking illegal drugs just to get through the day.
  • 37% of Kiwi women who are in a relationship are too tired to have sex.
  • 61% of the female population feel the crime rate is out of control.
  • 74% of New Zealand’s women are positive about their overall quality of life.

Minister of Women’s Affairs Jo Goodhew admits the survey’s findings show there is a need for action in the realm of gender equality. “I know there is still space for improvement,” she says in the NEXT Report. “We do well in New Zealand but we’ve still got a long way to go.”

The minister is “horrified” so many Kiwi women are resorting to drugs just to cope, but Paul Rout, CEO of the Alcohol Drug Association of New Zealand, is not surprised. In the NEXT Report he calls for employers to address the issue. “They should offer assistance with treatment and support rather than just taking a disciplinary approach,” he says.

While the report indicates a high level of contentment between couples in relationships, it seems many are too exhausted for intimacy. Cary Hayward, National Practice Manager of Relationship Services, suggests this is partly down to child rearing. “When people have children, both sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction go down,” he says in the NEXT Report.

Despite official statistics revealing crime rates in New Zealand hit a record low at the end of 2011, NEXT magazine’s research shows widespread fear among the female population about the crime rate. It’s an issue Garth McVicar of the Sensible Sentencing Trust wants to see addressed. “I think we’re justified in being very concerned about the long-term direction of our country and the safety of the next generation,” he says.

However, the survey shows there is plenty of optimism among the nation’s women, with many feeling positive both about their current situation and the future.

NEXT editor Sarah Henry feels the report has raised some crucial issues for women, and believes it provides a fascinating insight into just how complex life is for New Zealand’s female population in 2012. “The ‘girls can do anything’ mantra is fast becoming a case of women can do everything,” Henry says. “However, despite all this pressure we’re determined to achieve success and balance in our lives.”

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Indian innovater gets ready with iPhone payments gadget

iPhone gadgets

When you speak with him, you get a sense of ease, even a sense of quiet, that sounds like an introvert. Get him to talk about his latest innovation – SwipeHQ however, and you get to hear him talk passionately.

And then, there’s an air of swiftness while answering potentially tricky questions (future product plans) that are met with a guarded and measured response.

Manas Kumar is a technology-smitten young man who spends 20 hours a day thinking about producing digital tools to make lives easier for businesses and its customers.

iPhone gadgets

And at 32 years of age, he has became the second-youngest business-owner to list his company on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

Ever since that listing in December 2011, he’s been in news – for good reasons of course! The most recent being the announcement of his yet-to-be-launched device – SwipeHQ, a matchbox-sized device that plugs into an iPhone’s sound jack and converts the smartphone into a mobile payment device that can swipe a credit card to process a payment.

But that’s not how this story was meant to start.

He was a typical 20-something, cricket-struck Indian, with a dream to play at international level. That dream brought him to New Zealand in 2001, and before he knew, he was flipping burgers and pumping gas to make ends meet.

The hand-to-mouth existence meant he was working on multiple jobs, and did not leave him with much time to go home – so he would find somewhere in downtown to sleep before starting on the morning shift. Two years later, an urge to get out of the meagre existence gripped him.

Einstein gave him a clue. “The definition of insanity is,” Einstein famously said, “to do the same thing again and again and expect a different result.”

Manas aspired to break the vicious circle. That moment, the cricket bat made way for computer keyboard. A $10 buy of a domain name later, Manas started his website design company in 2003.

It wasn’t an easy ride – the first years of business were extremely difficult. Einstein probably repeated his mantra, and Manas changed gears to reinvent his company to develop software for businesses.

The year was 2007. This is when the wind entered the sail – things began to look up.

OptimizerHQ , as Manas’ company is now known, received good response to its flagship email marketing software, among other products. Manas had found his muse – to develop digital tools to help businesses serve its customers better.

Taking a leaf out of his own book, and possibly still listening to Einstein, Manas and his team looked at new ways of helping businesses, at a time when iPhones, Blackberrys and Galaxys were creating a growing category of tools – smart phones.

Manas designed a device, which will be launched in August, that can be plugged into a smart phone and voila! You have a payment gateway – a tool that merchants can use to receive payment from customers.

From lawnmower in the backyard, to the baker at the farmers market to major retail shops, the device can help a range of businesses. So who is his competition? “No one,” says Manas.

He is targeting a market that’s currently dependent on customers carrying cash. And what better place to launch his product than New Zealand – a cashless society, where the number of electronic payments (per capita, at point of sale) is one of the highest in the world. But he is not keen to compete in the EFTPOS (debit card) market.

SwipeHQ, as the device is known, will be able to process credit cards only at this stage. “It’s a deliberate strategy,” he says, and stops, not intending to reveal the reasons.

EFTPOS machines have taken years to gain trust of customers. Will customers trust smart phones to handle payments? Manas affirms that they have followed industry best practices in encryption and data safety while designing SwipeHQ.

“If you look in media, there have been so many instances where EFTPOS terminals have had issues in terms of not being able to stop fraud. There’s always risk with payment gateways.

“We have gone through all the regulatory aspects of producing this technology. We deploy a lot of resources into securing the device, and our commitment to security is second to none.”

He’s upbeat about the future of his company. “Internet is not just about website. OptimizerHQ is going to be a significant company because we are able to make a change in the way companies do business.”

Ask him about his personal life over the next few years, and you are greeted with a pause. “I’ll probably be still putting in 20-hour days for weeks at end!”

Business Immigration Work Abroad

Immigrants can cause export-led recovery – bank

Ethnic businesses, with their overseas ties, are expected to play a critical role in economic recovery, according to findings of an extensive survey by a leading New Zealand bank.

Ethnic businesses are doing business with some of New Zealand’s key export markets,  revealed the findings on ethnic businesses released by ANZ Bank, following a comprehensive survey of 4,000 businesses across New Zealand.

The findings were shared by Fred Ohlsson, ANZ’s Managing Director Business Banking at the Ethnic People in Commerce (EPIC NZ) conference in Auckland today.

“Those with ethnic ties to China, India, Japan and Vietnam are far more likely than others to be doing business in those markets. And many are also doing business in other markets,” says Ohlsson.

“One thing that comes through very clearly is the strong links ethnic businesspeople have with markets overseas.

This sets them apart from many other small and medium-sized businesses, and is a source of strength for the entire economy.

The banker urged business and government to play a stronger role in helping link ethnic firms to New Zealand networks and realise their business potential – while unleashing wider benefits for New Zealand business and the economy.

“As mostly small and medium-sized businesses, these enterprises are at the heart of economic activity – 90 per cent of NZ firms employ fewer than 20 people.

Add to this their international connections and exporting experience and it’s clear these firms have much to offer towards an export-led economic future.”

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Finalists for ethnic diversity in workplaces announced

immigration new zealand, police, ethnic diversity in workplaces

Immigration New Zealand is one of the three finalists for the Excellence in Ethnic Diversity Award at the 2012 gen-i Public Sector Excellence Awards.

New Zealand Police and Unitec Institute of Technology are the other two finalists for the Ethnic Diversity award which is sponsored by the Office of Ethnic Affairs, and organised by the Institute of Public Administration New Zealand (IPANZ).

immigration new zealand, police, ethnic diversity in workplaces

The Police team receiving their finalist certificate. From left to right: Superintendent Wally Haumaha, Office of Ethnic Affair's Language Line Manager, Diana Clark, Minister of State Services, Jonathan Coleman and Sergeant Rakesh Naidoo

Immigration New Zealand is shortlisted for its “Enhancing Productivity in Diverse Kiwi Workplaces” project. The immigration department put in place “toolkits” for New Zealand workplaces to understand their new migrant workers.

A quarter of the workers in the New Zealand workforce are born overseas and this rises to nearly half the workforce in Auckland. The Employer Toolkit is a set of ten ready-reference cards designed to support employers of migrants, and help them consider the challenges that come with employing people from different backgrounds.

The companion brochure “Guide for Newcomers – Make Your Move to New Zealand a Success” provides new migrants with tips to settle quickly into the New Zealand workplace.

Similarly, New Zealand Police’s Māori Pacific Ethnic Services Cultural Response Team supported communities from diverse backgrounds following the Christchurch earthquake on 22 February 2011. The Cultural Response Team was established in response to the large number of ethnically diverse people directly affected by the quake, as well as the high number of relatives and overseas media who travelled to New Zealand after the disaster.

Police recognised the need to sensitively manage the identification process, provide answers to family members and manage the cultural requirements of many ethnicities. The team dealt in a culturally appropriate manner with 20 different nationalities and more than 400 families.

Unitec Institute of Technology’s Intercultural Learning and Dialogue Programme was awarded for improving intercultural effectiveness for its 1,100 staff and 10,000 students.

IPANZ President Len Cook says the standard of entries continues to impress each year.

“At a time when Government is asking the public sector to provide more for less, these awards recognise a sector committed to achieving excellence, to embracing innovative ideas, and demonstrating real leadership.”

Winners of each category and the Prime Minister’s Award for Public Sector Excellence will be announced at an awards dinner to be held at Wellington’s TSB Arena on 11 June.

Immigration Work Abroad

Recession fueling racism – report

The ongoing economic crisis is resulting in diminished economic opportunities and welfare cuts for vulnerable groups, and is pushing them into poverty, which breeds negative feelings on both sides of the social divide, says an activist organisation.

Immigrants and some historical minorities are perceived as a burden to society, says a report by European Commission against Racism and Intolerance.

“Discrimination in employment is rife,” says the report released earlier this month. “Racism and intolerance are on the rise in Europe today and the resulting tension sometimes leads to racist violence.

The report also raises concerns about reduced government spending on human rights. “Human rights institutions are also affected at a time when they are most needed.” The commission has urged European countries to avoid undermining the capacity of such institutions by subjecting them to radical budget cuts and staff reductions.

A more concerning trend identified by the commission is that Xenophobic parties have obtained more support in recent elections. “They now have a share in political power in these countries, directly or indirectly.”

“Political leaders must at all costs resist pandering to prejudice and misplaced fears about the loss of “European values”, terrorism and common criminality.”

Some European countries failed on several accounts in their reaction to the sudden influx of migrants in 2011 – resulting from the events in North Africa. “The problems witnessed included excessively rapid returns of some arrivals and poor reception conditions.

The culture of “policing”, which seems to have prevailed in the management of this migration influx, has also produced a crisis (and) have added further fuel to the xenophobic debate.”

The commission’s report also highlighted multiple discrimination being faced by certain groups. “Muslim women are, for example, subject to prejudice not only because of their religion but also because of their gender and, quite often, their migration background.

“Many of their difficulties in finding employment or housing are linked to their choice to wear a headscarf.”

Immigration Work Abroad

Australia to launch online service for potential migrants

Skilled migrants interested in working in Australia will be able connect with potential employers with a new online service being launched on 1 July this year.

This is part of the significant reforms to the skilled migration programme which will also streamline the pathway to permanent residence for people already working in Australia on temporary 457 visas.

The employer nomination scheme (ENS) and the regional sponsored migration scheme (RSMS) will be integrated with the new skilled migrant selection register, SkillSelect.

The online SkillSelect system is a new expression of interest (EOI) approach to skilled migration, allowing skilled workers interested in migrating to Australia to record their details to be considered for a skilled visa through an EOI.

“These new arrangements are designed to better respond to labour market demands and form part of ongoing reform of the skilled migration programme,” a Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) spokesman said.

“Intending migrants will be found and nominated for skilled visas by Australian employers or state and territory governments, or they could be invited by the Australian Government to lodge a visa application.

“This will give the government greater control and flexibility to adjust to changes in the economy.

“Sponsors must also demonstrate they have a genuine need for the workers and that the skills required cannot be found in their region.”

From 1 July, Australia will also fast-track the pathway from the 457 visa to permanent residence under the employer-sponsored visa programme.

The DIAC officers are conducting  seminars and are available for appointments with employers and employees to answer their questions about skilled migration.

(Also read: Australia to recruit 30,000 Indians)

The DIAC will run seminars on skilled migration visa options at:

Margaret River: 6.30pm, May 9, at the Shire offices meeting room, Wallcliffe St.

Busselton: 6.30pm, May 10, Abby Beach Resort meeting room, 595 Bussell Hwy.

Bunbury: 12pm, May 11, 10th Floor Conference Room, Bunbury Tower, 61 Victoria St.

Immigration Work Abroad

New Zealand seeks power to detain asylum seekers

A country with a good track record of implementing positive refugee policy is set to become more stern towards asylum-seekers – a proposed move that is already attracting criticism.

New Zealand faces an ongoing risk of a mass arrival of illegal migrants, says a policy statement in the Immigration Amendment Bill.

“People-smuggling is a global criminal enterprise and people-smuggling networks in Southeast Asia and elsewhere are large and growing. People-smuggling operations based in Southeast Asia have arranged ventures to as far afield as Canada, so New Zealand’s comparative geographical isolation does not guarantee it will not be a target in future.”

The Bill aims to make New Zealand “as unattractive as possible to people-smugglers” and if passed, will allow for the mandatory detention of illegal migrants of up to 6 months and further periods of detention for up to 28 days with court approval. It also empowers the government to suspend “the processing of refugee and protection claims by regulation”.

However, New Zealand’s Human Rights Commission says the proposed changes threaten New Zealand’s obligations under the UN Refugee Convention and potentially lack compliance with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.

The Commission is particularly concerned about the introduction of mandatory detention under group warrants, the restrictions on family reunification,  and the changes to review processes.

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres says New Zealand has obligations under the Refugee Convention that are separate and independent of the country’s voluntary quota of 750 refugees as part of its annual resettlement quota on behalf of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

New Zealand has obligations as a party to the Refugee Convention to:

  • ensure that people who meet the United Nations definition of refugee are granted asylum
  • not to impose any penalties on an asylum seeker based on their mode of entry to New Zealand (Article 31).

“How an asylum seeker arrives in New Zealand should have no bearing on their right to apply for refugee status and protection,” says de Bres.

Mandatory detention on the basis of group warrants also raised issues of reasonableness and ultimately could amount to arbitrary detention breaching section 22 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, the commission says.

“New Zealand must protect the human rights of all asylum seekers and refugees who arrive in New Zealand, regardless of how or where they arrive, and whether they arrive with or without a visa,” says de Bres.

The changes were described as “an over-reaction” by Professor Max Abbott, director of AUT University’s Centre for Migrant and Refugee Research.

“Copying aspects of the harsh Australian approach to asylum seekers will damage New Zealand’s positive reputation in refugee and humanitarian matters. It is unlikely to act as a deterrent and could drag asylum and refugee issues into a highly charged political arena that will be socially divisive and destructive.”

The Australian treatment of ‘boat people’ through mass detention under harsh conditions has tarnished that country’s reputation and been an embarrassment to fair-minded Australians, says Professor Abbott.

Immigration Money News Work Abroad

Unregistered migration agent fined

An Australian citizen has been fined $12,000 by a Perth court for providing immigration assistance while not a registered migration agent.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) says the sentence sends a strong warning that illegal operators in the migration industry will not be tolerated.

Pacita Boynes, who was previously convicted on similar matters, pleaded guilty to 13 charges under the Migration Act 1958, for offences including making false statements on visa applications and referring people to work in breach of visa conditions.

In Australia, migration agents must be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority.

DIAC began an investigation of the woman after receiving a complaint from one of her clients and found her acting without accreditation as a migration agent for dozens of individuals or businesses on temporary skilled migration matters.

She is suspected of earning more than $100 000 by charging fees to both businesses and visa applicants for migration services.

In November 2010, Boynes had to pay the Commonwealth $50,000 under the first successful proceeds of crime action for migration fraud for her work as an unregistered migration agent.

A DIAC spokesman said anyone found to be providing unregistered immigration assistance can face charges under the Migration Act with penalties ranging from two to 10 years’ imprisonment and/or fines.

“The Australian Government will not tolerate illegal operators posing as migration professionals,” the spokesman said.

“Migration decisions involve considerable financial and emotional investments on behalf of prospective migrants. Unprofessional, incompetent or unethical behaviour by unregistered individuals challenge the integrity of Australia’s visa programme and brings the entire profession of more than 4500 registered migration agents into disrepute.”

Anyone found to have obtained a visa based on fraudulent information will be considered for cancellation, and any future applications may be refused under new provisions introduced in April 2011. People working in breach of visa conditions also face visa cancellation.

Earlier, a Perth man was prosecuted in August 2011 for supplying illegal workers to West Australian businesses.

In Australia, migration agents must be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA). A list of registered migration agents in Australia is also available on the website.

Agents Outside Australia: Migration agents who operate outside Australia do not have to be registered. The MARA department may give some overseas agents an identification (ID) number. This number does not mean they are registered.

Immigration Work Abroad

Citizenship scam hits New Zealand

New Zealand migrants are being targetted by a phone-calling scam offering citizenship on the payment of documentation fees via Western Union.

The caller introduces himself as being from the non-existent “Asian Minority Group of Internal Affairs in Wellington” and appears to be targeting migrants from Nepal and Bhutan.

New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs has received several calls today about the scam, says General Manager for Regulatory and Compliance Operations, Maarten Quivooy.

“The phoney caller appears to know detailed information about the families he is ringing and explains that he can provide citizenship but money needs to be paid via Western Union to Nepal for certain document transfer fees,” Quivooy says.

“One person made two payments via Western Union of $984 and $485.

“We’re advising people who have called us that there is no such group in the Department and not to pay any money.

“They should also advise people around them about this matter and contact the Department via the phone numbers available on the DIA website if they need to clarify or confirm anything relating to NZ citizenship.

“To those who may have paid money, we have advised them to contact the Police and Western Union.”