Please Share widely esp to friends and family in England, America, France, Italy and New Zealand.
There are now many groups ( eg Denmark and UK firefighters) mobilising to come out and help us rebuild after the Great Australian Jan 2020 Megafires. esp to Kangaroo Island, South Australia which is devastated! Sealink ferry fares have now been reduced to just $15 standing (with your swag) Currently, Working on cars and vans special price return with SA State Govt and Sealink now.
My suggestion before you leave is to google ‘BlazeAid base camps’ to get the map of Australia to see the locations. Press the base camp of choice you would like to go to and call the Coordinator giving an estimated time of arrival.
I also recommend that if you are a recognised and highly respected group (EG. UK firefighters) that you request an email signed by me (on BlazeAid letter head ) addressed to your airline for airfare consideration.
Groups coming must find their own way independently to a base camp and sharing your travel needs via Facebook works well. Finally, I would consider buying a swag in a town as close to the BlazeAid base camp as possible for your accomodation- we have ovals of room for you and the weather here is beautiful ( smoke cleared by welcome rains yesterday).
The Scott Morrison Federal Govt should have made a decision very soon Re: inclusion of volunteering at registered NFPs like BlazeAid to contribute to your 88 days for a second year Visa
Many thanks Kevin Butler BlazeAid Pres firstname.lastname@example.org
ED: since this post, the Federal government have allowed the 88 days volunteering to contribute towards the second year visa – great intiative.
Australia is set to introduce new regional work visas from 16 November 2019. The visa subclass 491 will offer 14,000 places each year for the foreign skilled workers living and working in regional areas. Permanent residency (PR) pathway is also available for eligible applicants and their families.
Australia is introducing two new regional visas as the Federal Government looks to settle skilled migrants in regional areas.
Two temporary visas, Skilled Work Regional (subclass 491)Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional visa (subclass 494) will be available from 16 November 2019.
The much-anticipated visas will offer 23,000 places each year and will replace the existing visa subclasses 489 and 187.
The holders of these visas will be required to work and stay in the designated regional areas until they become eligible for permanent residency.
Melbourne-based migration agent Ranbir Singh told SBS Punjabi that skilled migrants have a ‘huge interest’ in the visa subclass 491.
“It is a much-awaited work visa that will offer skilled workers a chance to live and work in regional Australia for up to five years,” said Mr Singh.
“They can apply for permanent residency after three years of stay and paid-work in a designated regional area.”
Mr Singh said it will replace the existing 489 visa that will cease from the 16th of November with the invitations from States and Territories already closed from the 11th of September 2019.
Key features of visa subclass 491
This is a temporary visa which is available for eligible skilled workers and their families to live, work and study in regional Australia for 5 years.
It is a point-based visa where an applicant requires either a state nomination or a sponsorship from an eligible family member who is settled in designated regional areas.
Here are some key features of Skilled Work Regional visa (subclass 491):
14 000 places to be allocated each year
A wide range of occupations are eligible (over 500)
Age limit is set at 45 years
Visa to be granted for 5 years
Must live and work in regional areas for at least 3 years before being eligible for PR
Regional area is mainly anywhere except metropolitan Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne and Perth
The applicant should be earning a minimum wage of $ 53,900 per annum for three years (concessions may apply)
Visa holder is allowed to move from one regional area to another
PR pathway available through visa subclass 191 that will commence from 16 November 2022
Visa is available for an application fee of $4,045 and the partner fee is set at $2,025.
Difference between the 489 visa (ceased) and 491 visa
The 491 visa holders will now have to wait for 3 years for PR while it used to be 2 years in the visa subclass 489.
The new visa covers more regional areas compared to 489 visa. The areas where the holders of 491 visa can live include all areas in Australia except metropolitan Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Perth. The areas of Newcastle, Wollongong and NSW Central coasts have also been added to the list.
There will be more points available under the new visa – unmarried or single applicants will get extra points that serve as a bonus for bachelors and there will be more points to avail for eligible relative sponsors and skilled partners with competent English.
IELTS measures the language proficiency of people who want to study or work where English is used as a language of communication.
Visa invitation priorities
Immigration professionals believe that favourable visa outcome will depend upon the ‘priorities’ set by the immigration authorities.
Migration agent Rohit Mohan told SBS Punjabi that the ‘utmost’ priority will be given to an applicant having a skilled partner or applicants even without a partner who can also have 10 additional points.
“This will help them gain some extra points to lead through the pool,” he said.
“The second on the list are the applicants with partners who have competent English, normally IELTS score of 6 each or above, but do not have skilled assessed hence having no skilled partner points.”
Mr Mohan suggested that the applicants with partners who do not have competent English or any skilled partner points may lag behind to avail this visa opportunity.
“The applicants should be pro-active in their approach – like their partners should get their skills assessed as it may take some time depending upon the skill-assessment authority,” he said.
“It is going to be very competitive so we would suggest that the prospective applicants should immediately get ready with their applications.”
How the point system will work for this visa
Mr Singh said that when compared to visa subclass 489, the point system for this visa is more ‘generous and lenient’, however, it is expected to have a ‘tough’ competition due to a limited number of seats available.
This is how the points will be awarded:
10 points for a skilled partner or spouse (previously 5 points with 489 visa)
5 points for applicants with a spouse or partner with competent English (no points previously)
10 points for applicants who are single (no points previously)
15 points if nominated by State or Territory (previously less than 10 points)
15 points if the applicant is sponsored by a family member residing in regional Australia (previously 10 points)
Certain STEM qualifications will get 10 points
Pathway to Permanent Residency (PR)
This is a temporary visa that can set a pathway for PR for eligible applicants.
The visa holders will need to stay and fulfil work requirements in a regional area for 3 years before being able to file 191 visa leading to permanent residency.
The applicants will need to meet the minimum taxable income requirements of $53,900 per year for three years. However, it is not clear if any concessions will apply in this condition.
Mr Singh said that the government has already indicated that the applicants will be rigorously scrutinised to assess whether they have met the conditions.
He advised that partners can also be the main applicant for 191 if they meet the criteria.
The PR pathway will be available from 16 November 2022.
Visa restrictions and flexibilities
The visa holder will not be granted any permanent skilled or onshore partner visa for the duration of 3 years unless there are compelling circumstances.
Migration agents believe this will lock migrants into the regional areas before they get their permanent residency.
Visa holders cannot live and work outside the designated regional areas but are allowed to move from one regional area to another.
Mr Singh advised that these conditions would be monitored closely and non-compliance may result in immediate visa cancellations.
“For some of the prospective migrants, this visa could be their last opportunity for permanent residency. So they should be extra careful with their approach,” he said.
Mr Mohan said that applicants should not ‘cross the limits’ or apply any ‘shortcuts’ to claim extra points.
“There is a possibility that some dodgy applicants may try to cheat the system by divorcing or separating from their partners to gain extra 10 points,” he said.
“Your whole profile and motive will be under scrutiny again when you lodge your PR under subclass 191. So better stick to all the conditions applicable to the visa or get ready to face the consequences.”
AUSVEG, Australia’s peak industry body for the vegetable industry, has called on the Federal Government to repeal the controversial Backpacker Tax in full, following the Federal Court’s decision that it cannot be applied to citizens of eight countries with whom Australia has an international treaty obligation not to tax citizens of these countries at rates higher than those paid by Australians.
AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside said the Backpacker Tax was flawed from the beginning and should be repealed in full to avoid any confusion among backpackers and employers.
“It is disappointing that the decision to implement the Backpacker Tax, which industry campaigned hard against for a long period of time, highlighting the issues it would cause, actually made it this far and had to be challenged in the Federal Court,” Mr Whiteside said.
“You would think that Government would have done its proper due diligence before implementing such a divisive tax in the first place. The only sensible thing to do now is to repeal the entire tax.”
The decision applies to Working Holiday Makers from the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Finland, Chile, Japan, Norway, and Turkey who are Australian residents for taxation purposes due to an international treaty signed between the countries.
At the time, industry argued that introducing a Backpacker Tax would deter Working Holiday Makers from coming to the country and have a severe impact on the horticulture industry. The tax was originally set to be at 32.5 per cent but settled at 15 per cent when it was implemented in 2016.
The number of backpackers coming to Australia has dropped since 2012-13 when more than 258,000 travellers came down under on 417 and 462 visas. Now that figure is down to just over 209,000.
“The horticulture industry has a significant labour shortage and has been working closely with the Government to amend visa rules to increase access to foreign workers. This shortage has been exacerbated by the confusion surrounding the Backpacker Tax,” Mr Whiteside said.
“Repealing the tax in full might at least go some way in bringing some confidence back to backpackers who wish to travel to Australia and a basic incentive that if they come here they are free to experience what Australia has to offer without the burden of being taxed.
“Government must have a common-sense approach to this issue and amend what was an incredibly bad policy from the beginning.”
Skilled migrants are now being encouraged to move to Perth and the Gold Coast as the Federal Government grapples with congestion in Australia’s three biggest cities.
Perth and Gold Coast have asked to be named regional areas to attract more skilled workers
Almost 70 per cent of population growth is concentrated in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane
Migrants who opt to move to regional areas will go to the top of the list for a regional visa
For the first time, the two destinations will be added to the list of locations migrants can move to on a regional visa.
Immigration Minister David Coleman denied it was a backflip, despite earlier this month insisting the cities would not be included in the program.
“We have had advocacy from governments from all sides of politics in relation to those two places and decided to include them in our program because close to 70 per cent of our total population growth is in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.”
In another tweak to the scheme, Mr Coleman said 2,000 extra skilled foreign workers would be required to settle in regional Australia.
While the migration cap of 160,000 places remains unchanged, there will now be 25,000 regional visas set aside for migrants who agree to work outside the major cities, up from 23,000.
Those that agree to spend a three-year stint in regional Australia will have their applications elevated to the top of the list.
They will also be eligible to apply for permanent residency.
It’s a deal the Immigration Minister said sparked a flurry of activity.
“In the first quarter of this year we had a 124 per cent increase in regional visas granted,” he said.
The Federal Opposition argued it was not so much a rush to the regions but rather the Coalition playing catch-up with a backlog of visa applications.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the scheme was unlikely to succeed unless migrants were offered proper support.
“It’s a matter of matching up where the job opportunities are, making sure there’s settlement processes available. The Government needs to ensure all of that occurs if this is to be a success,” he said.
The decision to include the Gold Coast and Perth on the list of destinations followed a big push from universities, who were keen to attract more international students.
“We’re absolutely stoked. They will be welcomed with open arms,” Study Gold Coast chief executive officer Alfred Slogrove said.
“It will boost the confidence of universities to increase their investment in new research, new programs, new facilities.”
It also prompted an about-face from WA Premier Mark McGowan, who conceded it was his decision to declassify Perth as a regional destination that left it off the list of possible locations.
“If mistakes have been made we’re making sure they’re fixed today,””Mr McGowan said.
The Victorian farm lobby says it is insane to expect backpackers alone to address the industry’s labour shortages and fears new changes could lead to more exploitation on farms.
The Government wants to further expand its backpacker visa to provide workers for farms
The Victorian Farmers’ Federation describes the latest changes as the “definition of insanity”
Exploitation of workers on backpacker visas by employers has been reported
The Government has flagged 13 countries from which to target backpackers to work in regional Australia in a planned expansion reported last week.
But Victorian Farmers’ Federation vice-president Emma Germano said her industry needed an agriculture-specific visa to attract workers that wanted to work on farms.
“We need something more sustainable than that,” Ms Germano said, referring to the Government’s proposal.
“We’ve seen there’s been problems with the (backpacker) 417 and 462 visas in the past so the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, and yet here we are again.”
Ms Germano said the industry had such a shortage of workers that any attempt to find more was “a good thing”, but she was worried that the list of countries targeted by the Government could lead to on-farm exploitation.
“We’ve seen there’s exploitation in the sector, that’s not a secret to anyone,” Ms Germano said.
“It just concerns me that those countries and those people might be actually more vulnerable to exploitation than the current cohort of backpackers we’ve had in the country for the past few years.”
Immigration Minister David Coleman said the Government was listening to farmers and “has made supporting regional Australia a key priority”, including announcing a regions-focused population plan earlier this year.
“We’ve made significant improvements to our visa system to give the agriculture sector access to overseas labour where Australian workers are not available,” he said.
“The Government has zero tolerance for exploitation in Australian workplaces and we’ve invested in our agencies to identify, and take action against, those responsible.”
He also reiterated that work and holiday applicants must have a functional level of English and must hold or be studying towards tertiary qualifications.
Ag visa remains a live issue
Ms Germano said she was frustrated with the Government’s response to her industry’s plea for an agriculture specific visa.
“I feel like we keep being appeased, like these are measures to appease the calls for an agriculture visa.
“We don’t understand why that is such a big issue.”
The National Party wants such a visa, but so far the proposal has not been supported by its Coalition partner, the Liberals.
While agriculture minister earlier this year, Nationals MP David Littleproud said Prime Minister Scott Morrison was “working towards” the proposal.
“The Prime Minister is now on the journey,” he said.
The Government has already expanded the backpacker visa scheme once this year, increasing caps for some developing countries and allowing workers to stay in Australia for three years.
Shanthi Robertson, a senior research fellow at Western Sydney University, argues the extension of backpacker visas into a third year means communities will have to adapt to long-term temporary residents.
“We will see more people move from working holiday visas, to student visas, to partner visas, to other forms of temporary work visas.
“That’s not in and of itself a problem,” she said.
“But it does create the issue of having migrants in Australia who are here for really extended periods of time.
“So what does that do to communities? And how long, realistically, is it equitable and democratic to allow people to pay tax here when they are not given any kind of political voice or any social benefit?”
Sourced by Mike Barrow
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