Stop exploitation of migrant workers

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Migrante  Australia has commenced a nationwide campaign for justice for disadvantaged 457 visa workers.

Spokesperson for Migrante in WA, Ms Carmelita Baltazar, said that over 450 petition signatures from community members and supporters all across WA have been emailed to Hon Min Brendan O’Connor earlier this week to draw his attention to the predicament of many migrant workers on s457 visas and to seek a meeting to explore ways to address the difficulties they face.

Migrante has documented cases of s457 workers who were found to have been burdened by high Visa Application Charges of $8,500 and $4,250 for Primary and Secondary applicants, respectively. Research by Migrante on the English language exemption points show that the skilled workers from the Philippines are being discriminated because their “high school education system which is currently based on four-year, full-time study is deemed to be not comparable to a five-year, full-time study of secondary schooling in Australia and this process is building social unrest,” said Ms Baltazar.

“Even Australian accredited universities such as the University of the Philippines and De La Salle University accept a four-year, full-time high school diploma as entry requirement to their universities. Australian Immigration should review this process to win the confidence of the Filipino-Australian people,” she added.

Mr Rene Alviar of Migrante, commented that “the English language exemption for skilled s457 visa needs to take into account the prevailing high school education system of the skilled worker, the skills and contribution of the worker to the Australian economy and the society in general, and the circumstances that the worker had during his tenure in the current employer whether he has practically demonstrated functional English in the workplace.”

“For a skilled worker to bridge the one year education disparity, the skilled workers need to show additional evidence of a year of study straight from high school to satisfy the DIAC’s “five-year, full-time continuous study”. “Unless this requirement is met, these s457 workers will not be granted English language exemption. As they are in transition to Permanent Residency, they are forced to borrow money to pay high VAC if they fail to meet the minimum band score of 5 on all IELTS test components,” he added.

Ms Baltazar looks forward to Min O’Connor’s sense of “fair go” for overseas workers who appear to be extracted of high fees by agencies in the Philippines and the Australian Immigration.

Mr Reyvi Mariñas, Chairperson of Migrante Melbourne and Deputy Sec Gen of Migrante Australia, has confirmed similar issues being raised by the s457 workers in Victoria and looks forward to a dialogue with Min O’Connor.

For further enquiries, contact Carmelita Baltazar 0414 247 154, Rene Alviar 0452 518 189, or Reyvi Mariñas 0421 119 776.

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