27 August, 2009
26 August, 2009
The report, The Right to Belong: Family Homelessness and Citizenship by Melbourne-based homeless agency Hanover and Swinburne University, finds increasing numbers of homeless women worry that child protection authorities see homelessness as failure to provide adequate care for their children, and opt to stay out of a system that could give them much needed help.
July 15, 2009
Thousands of overseas students are being made to work for nothing ? or even pay to work ? by businesses exploiting loopholes in immigration and education laws in what experts describe as a system of economic slavery.
The vast pool of unpaid labour was created in 2005 when vocational students were required to do 900 hours work experience. There was no requirement that they be paid.
Overseas students remained bound to the system as completion of such courses became a near-guaranteed pathway to permanent residency in Australia.
Since then the number of foreign students enrolled in the sector has leapt from 65,120 to 173,432 last year ? about half of all overseas students.
The changes have created a $15 billion education industry, as comparable countries don't offer residency. But experts, teachers and students say many of the private college courses are little more than visa mills. Since 2001 the number of private colleges has risen from 664 to 4892.
One university-educated overseas student The Age spoke to spent $22,000 and two years doing a hairdressing course she will never use, just to secure her residency. She did her 900 hours' work experience in a salon closely linked to the college, where students are required to pay a $1000 non-refundable bond to use the equipment.
Other colleges charge their students thousands of dollars in "placement fees" only to then advertise their supply of free labour to local business. And a blackmarket has sprung up in fraudulent letters of completion.
"If you wanted to make a corrupt system, this is absolutely how you would do it," Sydney immigration agent Karl Konrad said.
He said the system began to go bad when the requirement for 900 hours' work was introduced.
"You've got the agents and the proprietors realising that there is a flood of free labour, but, of course, the demand for placements outstrips the supply, so even if they wanted to take all that free labour they can't use it all," said Mr Konrad, the former Victorian police officer famed for his whistleblowing exposure of corruption among fellow officers. "It's all about supply and demand."
He said a trade in fraudulent documents had evolved with employers and agents selling students verification they had completed their 900 hours. One agent told The Age he charged $15-20,000 for such paperwork. "They are slaves," he said. "They work for free from 11 o'clock to 11 o'clock, no breaks, no nothing. They have to pay the owner for the paperwork. They want to stay here. They will do anything."
He described the entire industry as a racket. "They work with no workers' compensation, no insurance. If they are injured at work, bad luck."
Mr Konrad said the colleges and employers had a dangerous amount of power over their students, who face deportation if their enrolments are cancelled.
Even the pretence of education has been abandoned at many colleges, say students and teachers who spoke to The Age.
One cooking trainer said if he did not keep passing students, migration agents would stop sending them to the college where he worked and his job would disappear.
"As for this 900 hours' work experience, at least 60 per cent of my students were paying for it. It made a lot of Indian restaurant owners very rich," he said.
"Two years ago a student would shudder if you asked them if they were here for PR (permanent residency). Now it's blatant."
Mr Konrad said many students had taken out loans or mortgages back home to pay the exorbitant fees.
"If you have taken a loan in Indian dollars of $20,000 to study here, that is going to take you nearly 20 years to pay off in India.
"At least if they make it into Australia they can pay that off within a reasonable time frame."
August 24, 2009
A FAST food store in Melbourne's CBD has been accused of systematically not paying international students employed while on ''trial'', in the latest claim of exploitation of foreign students .
Prateek Sahni, 23, has alleged a Subway manager did not pay him for more than 40 hours work at the fast food outlet in February and required him to do heavy labouring work for him at a property, also free. He is seeking penalties that could exceed $200,000.
The claim comes as the Fair Work Ombudsman has warned that young foreign students are vulnerable to exploitation and after a security guard at the 2008 Australian Open - who was also an international student - received more than $100,000 in penalties for under-payment.
Mr Sahni's claims have been denied by Biltan Besim, the manager of the Subway outlet at 1-5 Elizabeth Street, who said he tried to contact the accountancy student to pay him but had incomplete details and no surname. He said that Mr Sahni never returned his employment and tax forms and had left his final shift early and ''disappeared''.
Mr Sahni said he never received any forms and his requests for extra work after his final shift were rebuffed after he asked to be paid.
Mr Besim said he ''generally'' and ''predominantly'' paid trial workers but said some abandoned their work and could not be tracked down.
Mr Sahni's lawyers at Maurice Blackburn have lodged a statement of claim in Melbourne Magistrates Court and are seeking penalties for breaches of workplace laws against Mr Besim and Kaba Investments, the store operator.
Maurice Blackburn principal Anne Gooley said her firm has received instructions from other people that what had occurred to Mr Sahni was a ''pattern of behaviour'' from the Subway store, while Mr Sahni said he knew of at least five other students who had not been paid.
The Fair Work Ombudsman executive director Michael Campbell - who was not commenting on this case - said foreign workers were vulnerable to being taken advantage of, particularly in industries such as retail, hospitality and cleaning.
He said non-payment for trial periods was also a common complaint from young people and was mostly illegal. ''Unless you are in a work experience placement or you are a volunteer you should be paid for all hours worked.''
The recession is feeding the global supply of sex and labour slaves in some countries and New Zealanders are helping drive demand says Salvation Army justice advocate Chris Frazer.
The Salvation Army, in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Criminology and The Pacific Immigration Directors' Conference, will host New Zealand's first major conference on human trafficking starting on September 2.
Deteriorating household living standards in countries where traffickers source their victims are making the impoverished more vulnerable to profiteering traffickers, Ms Frazer says.
A recent report released by anti-child sex trafficking network ECPAT and The Body Shop highlighted the increasing vulnerability of children and young people being coerced or conned into prostitution or the production of child pornography.
Kiwis who surf the internet for porn are likely to be contributing to misery of those trafficked for the production of pornography, Ms Frazer says.
Estimates of the number of trafficking victims range up to 4 million, of whom 79 per cent are victims of sexual exploitation. The overwhelming majority are women and children.
Most New Zealand homes will contain items or components of products that have been produced by slave labour, Ms Frazer says.
Industries as diverse as clothing, sports shoes, coffee, chocolate, sugar, fireworks, glassware, jewellery and mobile phones and laptops offer products that have been found to have been made with slave labour.
"These are not one-off crimes against mainly children and women - the victims suffer day after day, year after year and the damage to their lives is often permanent," Ms Frazer says.
The three-day Pacific Trafficking in Persons Forum will include speakers from government departments and NGOs from the Pacific region as well as UN and law enforcement agencies.
24 August, 2009
Sunday 20 September 2009
Conflicts between nations and conflicts within nations still claim lives on a daily basis, destroying stability, disrupting education and creating poverty. The United Nations International Day of Peace is 21 September, so The Salvation Army is called to prayer on this theme from Sunday 20 September. Many will want to continue praying for peace throughout the week.
Our Heavenly Father knows when his children suffer and there are many adults and children experiencing pain and bereavement because of war. Jesus said, Are not two sparrows sold for only a penny? But your Father knows when any one of them falls to the ground.' (Matthew 10:29). We pray for peace in the world.
18 August, 2009
Posted Sat Aug 15, 2009 7:38am AEST Updated Sat Aug 15, 2009 7:55am AEST
A study has found only 10 per cent of Queensland's prostitution industry is regulated. Queensland's prostitution laws are failing to protect sex workers, and are forcing them into illegal brothels, a team of Brisbane academics has found.
Former premier Peter Beattie introduced the Prostitution Act in December 1999 which allowed boutique brothels with up to five rooms.
At the time he said if such rules had been in place there never would have been a Fitzgerald Inquiry, which had detailed the link between illegal prostitution and organised crime.
The new law established the Prostitution Licensing Authority to oversee the sex industry.
But almost 10 years since the Prostitution Act was passed, a major study has found the laws are failing...
17 August, 2009
Everyone is welcome to attend and it promises to be an informative, and helpful day.
Whether you have just started or have been thinking about it for some time - this day is about getting teams together, sharing information, learning more about prostitution chaplaincy for mutual encouragement and support.
Special guests include:
Syrine, a brave, strong young women who works in one establishment we visit and will share her story and her feedback on our visits.
Jessica, a student undertaking research through the Stop The Traffik ACTS (active communities against trafficking in sex) program who will share with us how her research is going and we can discuss how our network might assist in future ACTS programs.
Lunch is included (as well as cupcakes for coffee break). Please RSVP by Thursday to
14 August, 2009
'You know, we in the States have much, much more experience with being all wrong about immigration than you do. I mean 36,000 you said in Italy? ... We laugh. That's a day in the United States. And we are so wrong about it. I mean, build a fence on the border with Mexico, give a huge boost to the Mexican ladder industry, you know ... the thing is when somebody gets on an exploding boat to come over here — they're willing to do that to get to Australia — you're missing out on some really good Australians if you don't let that person in.'
'Let them in. Let them in. These people are assets. One or two of them might not be, but you can sort them out later ... I think conservatives are getting this wrong all over the world, I really do.'
A worthwhile perspective, I think...
13 August, 2009
12 August, 2009
Say No 4 Kids gives you the opportunity to speak out and help effect change to the display laws relating to pornography, so that children and young teens aren't confronted with inappropriate, highly sexualised imagery as they go about their daily lives.
The authority responsible for the laws relating to pornographic publications and their display is the Standing Committee of Attorney's General (SCAG) Censorship Ministers. The SCAG board is established by the Australian Federal Government, and consists of one representative from each State and Territory.
It is the aim of Say No 4 Kids to present our petition to SCAG in November 2009 when they come together for their Ministerial Conference to review the censorship laws. With your help, we intend to inform SCAG that as guardians of the next generation, we want pornographic material removed from access and view of children and young teens. If cigarettes can go back behind the counter, why not porn?
Please take a few minutes to look at our website, and sign the online petition. Forward it to your family and friends and/or print the hard copy version (please be sure to return the completed petition to P.O. Box 707, Pakenham Vic. 3810 by the end of October, 2009).
Say No 4 Kids is not affiliated in any way with any political, religious or vested interest group. We represent a diverse range of people concerned about the health and wellbeing of children and young teenagers.
Download petition in PDF format, print and sign.
Download petition in Microsoft Word format, print and sign.
There is much debate about sex work and, specifically in Australia, debate about the legality of sex work has strong arguments on both sides. When we consider the issue, we rarely look at the implications it has on the individual, talking more about the moral and social consequences. It’s often a ‘hot topic’ in political debates, awareness campaigns and other public forums. What we need to realise is that sex work not only impacts on society, but also on every individual affected by it. When it comes to individuals, some of us find ourselves saying “It’s their choice” - but is it?
Some would say that in most cases, people make an informed choice to enter sex work or partake in it. What we can’t forget though, is that there are many who may have seemed to make a choice, but that choice has been made out of necessity, survival or an addiction they can no longer control. This brings me to the question so often avoided: is sex work a choice or is it the means to an end for someone struggling for survival by becoming a paid victim of abuse?
One pro-sex work study revealed that there were three types of prostitutes; kids starting before they are 16years, girls entering while aged 16-18years and women beginning sex work after they’re 19years. Statistics revealed that those under 18 largely had experiences of family breakdown, physical and sexual violence and drug abuse. Where as the statistical picture of women (over 19) portrayed that they were led into sex work through “economic situation, or financial survival for themselves”. This indicates that it was an informed choice that these women made about entering the sex industry.
When sex work is seen as the only option, these situations don’t seem to be much of a choice. Maybe it was good economics, maybe it would allow more financial viability for a single-parent household or student trying to pay for an education. Regardless of the reasons, we must not stand by and allow people to be trapped in an abusive life where they had little choice.
There are many women in sex work who choose not to leave, this is for a variety of reasons. Many have a fear of the unknown, an inability to financially support themselves any other way, plus a variety of other circumstantial factors. Interestingly, studies reveal that more than 50% of women would choose to leave sex work if they felt this was a suitable option. It seems we created a society that allows sex work through law, but does not adequately support women who want to opt out of that lifestyle, leaving them ostracised from the general community.
What is the way forward? Political and legal debates will continue to take place, with much justice to be fought for, but for us as Christians our first calling is to love God and to love others as Christ loved us. We accept that, no matter what choices they have made, people in sex work are no different to anyone else and we love them no matter what the circumstance. We don’t just acknowledge them, we build relationships with them, we share with them, pray with them and we are to be ready for when they see a way out, helping them to rebuild their new lives in freedom - holistically and with a deep freedom in spirit and body.
10 August, 2009
06 August, 2009
How do you save a victim who can't be found?
How do you trust when hope seems lost?
TRADE was released in selected cinemas around capital cities in Australia today.
Inspired by Peter Landesman's chilling NY Times Magazine story on the U.S. sex trade, "The Girls Next Door," TRADE is a thrilling story of courage and a devastating expose of one of the world's most heinous crimes.
TRADE is a film we’d encourage you to go and see with some friends. It’s a film we know will spur on discussion and hopefully action about an issue that is often missed being talked about in our society as it’s about as ugly an issue as one can find.
Why not plan a trip to the cinema this coming weekend and take advantage of our offer for 4 people to see TRADE for $40. All you need to do is print out the online voucher and present it at the participating cinema.