Canberra Postpones International Student Pilot Program
SBS reported today (9 July 2020) that the planned “Safe Passage” program in the two state owned universities in the Australian Capital Territory has been postponed.
The joint plan initiated by the University of Canberra and the Australian National University was slated to begin later this month. However, given the recent COVID developments, both universities saw fit to postpone the well advanced pilot plan to return 350 continuing students to Canberra until there is a clearer picture around the COVID trajectory.
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Hong Kong Citizens Offered Extended Australian Visas
The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and Acting Minister for Immigration , Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Minister Alan Tudge, held a joint press conference today (9 July 2020), to announce Australia’s plan to offer a permanent residency pathway for thousands of Hong Kong citizens already in Australia to temporary work visa holders and student visa holders.
Separate efforts will be made to entice businesses looking to move their operations from Hong Kong to set up in Australia.
It is understood the visa changes will affect about 10,500 students and 1,500 people on other temporary visas.
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Mental Health Clinicians Police Area Commands Welcomed
The Law Society of NSW welcomed the decision to expand the NSW Government’s Police Ambulance and Clinical Early Response (PACER) pilot and place 36 mental health clinicians in 10 Police Area Commands and Districts.
The PACER program is designed to to provide a specialist mental health early response to people experiencing a mental health crisis and has been successfully trialed in the St. George Police Area Command.
President of Law Society, Richard Harvey, said it’s been shown that early intervention support can significantly reduce the number of people with a mental illness who end up in the criminal justice system.
Full media release can be found at http://www.lawsociety.com.au
Lawyer Deregulation Bill passed
On 15 June 2020, the Migration Amendment (Regulation of Migration Agents) Bill 2019 (the Migration Agents Bill) and the Migration Agents Registration Application Charge Amendment (Rates of Charge) Bill 2019 were passed with both the Coalition and the Labor Party supporting the bill.
The purpose of the the Migration Agents Bill is to amend the Migration Act 1958 in order to deregulate the migration advice industry, in particular to remove lawyers who hold unrestricted practicing certificates from regulation by the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA).
On the other hand, the Rates of Charge Bill is to amend the Charge Act to ensure that a migration agent who paid the non-commercial registration application charge in relation to their current period of registration, but gives immigration assistance otherwise than on a non-commercial basis, is liable to pay an adjusted charge.
The Migration Agents Bill comprises six Schedules whereas the rates of Charge Bill consists of on Schedule.
Sections 1-3 of the Migration Agents Bill commence on Royal Assent. Schedules 1 and 2 commence on the earlier of a day to be fixed by Proclamation, or nine months after Royal Assent.
Sections 3, 4 and 6 commence on the earlier of the day to be fixed by Proclamation, or six months after Royal Assent.
Schedule 5 commences at the same time as Schedule 1 to the Rates of Charge Bill.
Sections 1-3 of the Rates of Charge Bill commences on Royal Assent. All other provisions commence on the earlier of a day to be fixed by Proclamation or six months after Royal Assent.**
**Source: Bills Digest, Parliament of Australia, Department of Parliamentary Service
There are significant number of temporary visa holders in Tasmania that have lost their jobs and are experiencing hardship due to the restrictions in place to protect Tasmanians.
In view of this, the Tasmanian government has recently announced the following assistance that will be made available to temporary visa holders:
1. Pandemic Isolation Assistance Grants will be made available for those who can demonstrate genuine financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
2. Emergency relief and assistance provided through partnered non-government organisations where required.
3. The Temporary Visa Holder Skilled Employee Assistance Program is specifically designed to assist skilled temporary visa holders to maintain a connection with their employers during COVID 19.
Eligible visa categories:
- Student visas (Subclass 500)
- Temporary graduates (Subclass 485)
- Provisional Visa Holders (Subclass 489 and 491)
- Temporary Skilled (Subclass 457 and 482)
- Seasonal Worker and Pacific Labour Scheme Visas (Subclass 403,417, 462)
- Bridging Visas (Subclass 010,020,030,050 and 051)
- Humanitarian Visas (subclass 785 and 790)
Details of the assistance can be accessed through their website at
Parliamentary inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence
On 31 May 2020, Senators Marise Payne and Anne Ruston proposed the draft terms of reference (TOR) for an inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence.
Minister Payne indicated the challenging start to 2020 with the pandemic and associated restrictions required renewed consideration on how to reduce family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia.
On the other hand, Senator Ruston said the level of family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia remains high.
In March 2020, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a $150 million domestic violence support package to help services meet demand during the COVID-19 crisis.
As part of the package, the government has lauched a new awareness campaign, Help is Here, to promote the two national helplines (1800RESPECT and MensLine Australia), bolstered resources to the helplines and other Commonwealth funded programs, and transferred $27.8 million to states and territories to support local services.
New Agreement keeps Western Sydney Airport project on track
On 2 June 2020, Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled a new agreement with the New South Wales government of Gladys Berejiklian by injecting a further $3.5 billion to the Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport which is set to open in 2026.
Construction of the airport is well underway and the establishment of infrastructure which includes a new Metro service will commence later in the year.
The Prime Minister indicated that the new metro service and the new airport will deliver billions of dollars and thousands of jobs to Western Sydney thereby establishing the infrastructure needed now and into the future.
The Sydney Metro-Western Sydney Airport proposes six metro railway stations that includes two stations at the airport terminal and at the airport business park, a station serving the commercial heart of the Western Sydney Aerotropolis, a station at St. Marys which will interchange with existing suburban railway station, a station at Orchard Hills and a station at Luddenham.
According to Alan Tudge, the Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure, the project will support 14,000 jobs which will bring new opportunities for the people of Western Sydney.
The Sydney Metro-Western Sydney Airport is being funded on an equal basis by the Commonwealth and the NSW governments under the the Western Sydney City Deal.
For full details of the PM’s message see link below:
The NSW government, in its recent media release, will convene a special sitting of NSW Parliament to consider a second set of laws to equip citizens, businesses and the justice system to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On 18 May 2020, the NSW government will fund temporary crisis accommodation for international students stranded amounting to $20 million to protect the latter and maintain the state’s record as a leading global study destination.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported that Australian retail turnover fell 17.9% in April 2020. This is the strongest seasonally adjusted fall published from the Retail Trade survey following the strongest ever seasonally adjusted rise in March 2020.