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Oz restuarant charged over illegal workers

Work in Australia

A Nando’s restaurant owner in Australia is facing 22 charges for illegally employing foreign students.

The students had worked illegally in Anni Kartawidjaja’s Melbourne stores over a two-and-a-half-year period. Five of Anni’s employees have also been charged over their involvement in the scam, according to Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

“More than 90 charges are expected to be laid as a result of an Immigration-led investigation,” a Department spokesman said.

Work in Australia

Anni allegedly organised Indonesian nationals to travel to Australia on student visas to work in breach of their visa conditions at her Nando’s restaurants and other grocery stores. Most of the illegal workers allegedly lived at her properties while paying rent, internet, telephone and heating bills to Anni, often as salary deductions.

“It is imperative that employers understand they may be penalised for compromising the integrity of visa programs,” the spokesman said. “The department’s focus is to address the actions of businesses that willfully take part in illegal work – not to penalize businesses which act in good faith.”

Evidence obtained during the investigation indicates that key management staff were told to turn a blind eye to the illegal workers.  If convicted under the Migration Act, Anni and her associates could face up to 12 months’ imprisonment for each charge. Where the department becomes aware of fraud, these matters are fully investigated and can result in both criminal and administrative penalties, a media statement from the Department said.

“It has been a criminal offence to hire illegal workers since 2007 – an offence that carries substantial penalties including prison terms,” the spokesman said.

More information about the revised laws is available online.

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Murdoch calls Australia’s visa restrictions “racist”

Australia-born media owner Rupert Murdoch has strongly condemned Australia’s new 457-visa rules for foreign workers.

Rupert says the language the government uses is “disgraceful and racist,” referring to 457-class laws that guide how employers should hire skilled staff, reported Agence France-Presse.

The 21 percent growth in the number of 457 visa workers in one year has exceeded national employment numbers, says Australia’s Labor Party. “The program is being increasingly driven by temporary visa holders seeking to remain in Australia instead of the demands of the Australian labor force,” the government’s immigration department said in a statement.

The Australian Government is taking measure to control the visa abuse, a move being  criticized by Rupert.

“I think the way that they’re talking about the 457 is pretty disgraceful and racist, but I’m a big one for encouraging immigration, I think that’s the future,” Rupert told Sky News.

“A mixture of people — just look at America — is just fantastic,” the News Corporation chief said.

 “There are difficulties for generations of migrants sometimes if there are too many from one area, but they meld in a couple of generations and it leads to tremendous creativity in the community.

“Skilled migration was vital to economic growth in Australia’s north, which is in the grip of a mining and resources boom with billions of dollars of investment slated for the coming years.


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Paulini to become Aussie

Fijian-born singer Paulini is taking up Australian citizenship tomorrow at a special ceremony in Canberra coinciding with Australia’s Harmony Day.

“Australian citizens come from across the globe and my story is no different,” says Paulini. “I moved here from Fiji when I was four-years-old.”

“I am so excited to be taking this step to formally join the Australian family.”

“No matter where you come from, you can contribute something special to what it means to be Australian. We have a diverse, free and inclusive society and this is the one thing I love most about Australia,” she says.

Paulini, australian singer, fijians in australia

Paulini came into limelight when she became one of the top four finalists in Australian idol. She went on to top the Australian ARIA Charts in 2004 with her debut Platinum album “One Determined Heart” and her Platinum smash single “Angel Eyes”, both hitting the No. 1 spot (Angel Eyes remained at the top of the charts for 6 consecutive weeks). She is one of only ten Australian female solo artists to have a #1 album.

“I’m at the happiest point in my life. I’m spending my spare time in the studio writing and creating my own work”.

Paulini will receive her Australian citizenship on the Harmony Day where this year’s theme is: Many Stories – One Australia.

More than 50 people from 21 countries will become citizens at the ceremony, fittingly on a day where Australians celebrate the nation’s diversity.

“The values of inclusiveness, respect and belonging are fundamental to the development of Australia’s successful multicultural framework and these values are at the core of what Harmony Day is about,” a spokesman for Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship says.


Since Harmony Day began in 1999, about 50,000 events have been staged across Australia with community groups, schools, churches, local governments and the business community once again coming together to celebrate the cultures that make Australia a great place to live.

Harmony Day is celebrated on March 21 each year, which is also is also the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

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Australia Immigration to meet overstayers

Migrate to Australia

Australia’s immigration officials will be visiting smaller cities in New South Wales, speaking to people who do not have a valid Australian visa and discuss with them any issues they might be facing.

Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) officers will visit south-west NSW from 18 to 21 March and provide immigration information to people who have overstayed their visas, as well as local service providers and community leaders.

Migrate to Australia

In some cases, the team from the department’s Community Status Resolution Service (CSRS) section will be able to issue temporary visas (short-term bridging visas).

The team will meet local communities around Buronga, Euston, Murray Downs and Moama.

“This enables people in communities outside capital cities, who do not have a valid Australian visa or are currently on a bridging visa, to speak face-to-face with an immigration officer about specific issues they might be facing,” a departmental spokesperson says.

The team will be joined by staff from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), an independent organisation which provides assistance for eligible people to return home. IOM staff will be available to discuss the services they provide and who is eligible.

“The department is committed to ensuring the integrity of Australia’s migration and visa programs: people must have a valid visa to remain in the country,” the spokesperson says.

Individual appointments will be available at the Alcheringa Sporting Club, Carramar Drive, Buronga, from 9.30am to 4pm on 18 March.

Staff will also be available at the Euston Oval Community Centre, off Carey Street (Sturt Highway), Euston, from 9.30am to 4pm on 19 March.

They will also be available at Swan Hill Conference Centre, Lot 5, Murray Downs Drive, Murray Downs, from 9.30am to 4pm on 20 March.

The team will then visit Moama Bowling Club (The Pavilion), 6 Shaw Street, Moama, and will be available from 10am to 4pm on 21 March.

To book an appointment, contact the CSRS on 02 6195 6146. Walk-ins are also welcome. For more information, visit DIAC website.

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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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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.

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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.