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Wednesday, 6 December 2017
Page: 9956


Senator RUSTON (South AustraliaAssistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources) (17:46): I present two government responses to committee reports as listed at item 14 on today's Order of Business. In accordance with the usual practice, I seek leave to have the documents incorporated in Hansard.

Leave is granted.

The documents read as follows—

Australian Government response to the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee report:

Factory freezer trawlers in the Commonwealth Small Pelagic Fishery

December 2017

Introduction

The Australian Government notes the release of the Senate Environment and Communication References Committee's report on factory freezer trawlers in the Commonwealth Small Pelagic Fishery (SPF). The government thanks the Committee members for the work in delivering the report and associated recommendations. The government also welcomes the release of the dissenting report by government senators.

Australians have a passion for our oceans and have a strong interest in the sustainable management of Australia's fisheries and aquatic resources. The government recognises the strong interest in parts of the community in the operation of factory freezer trawlers in the SPF, and acknowledges the diverse range of opinions on this issue, as represented in the Committee's report.

Australia's Commonwealth fisheries are managed for multiple objectives. The Fisheries Management Act 1991 requires the Minister in the administration of the Act, and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) in the performance of its functions, to ensure that the harvesting of fisheries resources is conducted in a manner consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development, including the exercise of the precautionary principle. They must also pursue maximising the net economic returns to the Australian community and implement efficient and cost-effective fisheries management.

The government takes seriously the responsibility to protect the environment and to sustainably manage all fisheries, including the SPF, for the benefit of all Australians into the future. This is why the government is committed to science based fisheries management in Commonwealth fisheries representing world's best practice. In the SPF scientific research is extensive and ongoing.

The public can be assured that the government has a strong legislative and policy framework for managing fisheries. AFMA, the statutorily independent regulator, is focused on ensuring compliance with this framework.

The government is proud of Australia's well-earned reputation as a supplier of safe, environmentally sustainable, high-quality seafood. Australia's fisheries are internationally recognised as among the best managed in the world. The SPF is a good example of the effectiveness of science based fisheries management, and balancing multiple objectives.

The government looks forward to the ongoing sustainable use of the SPF by all types of ocean users for many generations to come, and is confident the Commonwealth's responsive fisheries management framework will deliver this outcome.

Recommendation 1

The committee recommends that the Australian Government ban all factory freezer mid-water trawlers from operating in the Commonwealth Small Pelagic Fishery.

The Australian Government does not support this recommendation. A ban on factory freezer mid-water trawlers is not supported by the available science, expert advice or international best practice in fisheries management.

The government's approach to fisheries management is to maintain fish stocks at ecologically sustainable levels and, within this parameter, maximise net economic returns to the Australian community. A key element in this approach is the use of 'output' controls which are used in most Commonwealth fisheries. Output controls place direct limits (quotas) on the total catch of target species that can be taken in a fishing season. In a well-managed, quota-based fishery, the size of the boat or freezer capacity is of little relevance to fish stock sustainability, providing that quotas are set correctly using the best available science.

Factory trawlers are primarily used for their additional processing, freezing and storage capabilities. On-board processing and freezing capability can optimise the quality and value of the product and can reduce wastage.

The government notes that scientific research into the SPF is extensive and on-going. Scientifically informed management decisions are made to ensure the sustainability of the fishery.

The government will continue to monitor developments in the fishery while ensuring that exploitation of the fishery is conducted in a manner consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development. These principles include the precautionary principle, and in particular the need to have regard to the impact of fishing on non-target species, and the long term sustainability of the marine environment.

Recommendation 2

The committee recommends that the Australian Government expedite its 2013 election commitment to appoint a National Recreational Fishing Council. An Agriculture and Water Resources portfolio minister should chair the Council.

The Australian Government notes this recommendation.

The government recognises the need for appropriate mechanisms for the recreational fishing sector to constructively engage with government on Commonwealth fisheries management matters. The government has recently established the National Recreational Fishing Council, which will allow recreational fishers to better engage with government. The government has also amended its fisheries legislation to strengthen engagement with recreational and Indigenous fishers with respect to the management of Commonwealth fisheries.

Recommendation 3

The committee recommends that the government expedite its 2016 election commitment to amend the Fisheries Management Act 1991 to specify that the Australian Fisheries Management Authority is required to consider the interests of all users of fisheries including recreational, Indigenous and commercial fishers.

The Australian Government notes this recommendation.

Consistent with a 2016 election commitment, legislative amendments recently passed the Parliament which will ensure AFMA takes into account the interests of all fisheries users—commercial, recreational and Indigenous fishers—in exercising its existing fisheries management responsibilities. The amendments also increase the size of AFMA's Management Advisory Committees.

The amendments do not alter the application of AFMA's decision-making powers. Decisions will continue to be made using evidence based science but will be enhanced by formalising and strengthening input to AFMA decisions from non-commercial fishers.

Recommendation 4

To enhance public confidence in the management of Australian fisheries, the committee recommends that the Australian Fisheries Management Authority publish, on a regular basis, further information about fishing activity in the Small Pelagic Fishery. This information should include:

the total value of the fishery;

quantity of catch (by species);

the amount of bycatch caught and discarded by species; and

the areas where fishing activity is taking place.

Publication of this information should occur:

despite any claims from industry that particular information is commercially sensitive or should not be disclosed, although a short delay in publication may be appropriate to accommodate concerns about the commercial sensitivity of particular information; and

regardless of any additional disclosures the operator of the FV Geelong Star may provide as part of a voluntary undertaking.

The Australian Government notes the recommendation.

The government supports transparency in fisheries management and community access to relevant information about Commonwealth fisheries. There is a high degree of transparency around fisheries management arrangements and fisheries operations in the SPF. AFMA currently makes substantial information about the SPF publically available including: total catch limits, total catch from the fishery, quarterly reports of interactions with protected species by Commonwealth fishing operators, quota statutory fishing rights, target species status, the SPF Harvest Strategy and the SPF Management Plan.

The government supports the release of data and information about the SPF consistent with AFMA's, policy of balancing the release of information about fishing activities with the need to protect commercially sensitive information. AFMA determines this in line with its legislative obligations and its information disclosure policy.

Recommendation 5

As the visual identification of protected species is critical for their protection, the committee recommends that the Australian Fisheries Management Authority restrict mid-water trawling in the Small Pelagic Fishery to daylight hours.

The Australian Government does not agree with this recommendation.

The government notes that the intent of this recommendation is the protection of protected species. Extensive effective measures to minimise interactions with protected species are already in place in the SPF.

All food production activities have some level of impact on the environment and in the case of fishing, the most visible impacts can be the interaction with non-target species, or bycatch.

Night fishing is a common practice around the world and necessary to effectively fish for certain species. AFMA has established a marine mammal working group to provide advice on marine mammal management arrangements for Commonwealth managed fisheries. This work includes developing mitigation and avoidance strategies. The group is structured to elicit the best possible advice from a wide variety of experts.

The SPF management regime has been assessed against the requirements of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The management regime is currently accredited under part 13 of the EPBC Act for interactions with protected species.

It is open to AFMA to move to restrict fishing to daylight hours if that is deemed essential.

Recommendation 6

The committee recommends that the Australian Fisheries Management Authority require estimates of spawning biomass based on the daily egg production method to be obtained for all quota fish populations in the Small Pelagic Fishery more frequently than the current arrangements. The cost of these surveys is to be recovered from industry.

The Australian government notes the recommendation and will refer it to AFMA for consideration.

The government will continue to support daily egg production method (DEPM) surveys as one of the primary mechanisms to inform the SPF's Harvest Strategy.

The timetable for undertaking DEPM surveys in the SPF is determined by the AFMA Commission, drawing on advice from expert sources including the SPF Scientific Panel. The AFMA Commission also reviews the frequency of DEPM surveys with regard to cost and the commercial fishing effort.

The government expects costs of the DEPM surveys to be recovered from industry through statutory levies charged in accordance with the relevant legislation and the government's cost recovery policy.

Dissenting report

The Australian Government acknowledges the dissenting report released by Coalition senators Senator David Bushby and Senator Jonathon Duniam and notes the comments it includes on the Chair's report recommendations 1, 4, 5 and 6.

The government's response to the recommendations contained in the dissenting report are as follows.

Recommendation 1

The management of Commonwealth fisheries continues to be based on the best available science and a strong compliance regime.

The Australian Government agrees with this recommendation. The government is strongly committed to managing Australia's fisheries using the best available scientific knowledge. This is why the government places significant emphasis on scientific research and has a strong legislative and policy framework for managing fisheries. AFMA, the independent regulator, is in place to ensure compliance with this framework. The government notes that Australia's fisheries are among the best managed in the world.

Recommendation 2

There should be on-going dialogue and discussion between the commercial and recreational fishing sectors in relation to the management of Commonwealth fisheries.

The Australian Government notes the recommendation.

The government recognises that commercial and recreational fishers have many shared interests including stock sustainability, marine ecosystem preservation and community accountability for the responsible use of public resources. Stronger engagement between the commercial and recreational fishing sectors on matters of common interest could lead to more comprehensive, consistent and informed advice to the AFMA Commission which independently regulates Commonwealth fisheries. This includes through the participation of commercial and recreational fishing representatives on AFMA's Management Advisory Committees (MACs) and Resource Assessment Groups (RAGs). In turn this should ultimately improve fisheries management outcomes.

The government has provided grants to both the recreational and seafood industry sectors, through the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation and National Seafood Industry Alliance. This support will help improve the capacity of these sectors to engage in public policy matters of relevance to our fisheries.

The government notes that AFMA, in performing its functions, must pursue sustainability and economic objectives. AFMA's MACs and RAGs provide advice to the AFMA Commission to support fishery management decisions. Legislative amendments recently passed the Parliament which will improve the capacity of recreational (and Indigenous) fishers to contribute to Commonwealth fisheries management.

Additional comments

The government notes the additional comments included in the report by Labor senators, Senator Anne Urquhart, Senator Carol Brown, Senator Anthony Chisolm and Senator Sam Dastyari.

1

Australian Government Response to the Joint Standing Committee on Migration Report: Inquiry into Migration and Multiculturalism in Australia

December 2017

Preamble

The Australian Government is unwavering in its commitment to a multicultural Australia: one which celebrates and acknowledges the benefits that diversity brings — socially, economically and culturally. The Government is pleased to respond to the recommendations of the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Migration's Inquiry into Migration and Multiculturalism in Australia (the Inquiry).

On 20 March 2017, the Government launched its new multicultural statement, Multicultural Australia: United, Strong, Successful. This statement identifies the Government's priorities and strategic directions that will guide programs and policies for the coming years, and is available online at www.dss.gov.au/settlementĀ­and-multicultural-affairs/australian-governments-multicultural-statement.

The statement reaffirms our commitment to a multicultural Australia, and serves as the foundation on which we can further build our multicultural society. We will encourage the economic and social participation of new arrivals, harness the advantages of our diversity and shared national interest, and continue to build harmonious and socially cohesive communities.

Australia is a successful and vibrant multicultural nation, with nearly half its population either born overseas or having at least one parent born overseas. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)'s Indicators of Immigrant Integration 2015 report shows that Australia has one of the highest rates of welcoming migrants, with 90 per cent of people agreeing that their place of residence is a good place for migrants. Australia also has one of the smallest discrepancies between locally born and overseas born unemployment rates in the OECD. We are one of the most successful and cohesive societies in the world.

Australia is a country uniquely defined by its people, its land and its Indigenous inheritance. We are united by our shared values of respect, equality and freedom, and together we create a fair society with a balance between individual rights and mutual responsibilities. While security threats have been a valid cause for concern in recent years, Australians from all backgrounds remain united, and the strength of our communities endures.

The Australian Government acknowledges the significant work being done by government agencies to support migration and multiculturalism across Australia. This work ranges across portfolios including: social and human services, immigration, education, training, employment and health.

The Australian Government thanks all those who were involved in the work of the Inquiry and delivery of the final report. In particular, to the members of the Committee and those organisations and individuals that contributed submissions — your involvement in this national conversation is valued and appreciated.

No.

Recommendation

Government Response

1

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government endorse and reaffirm commitment to the Galbally report's vision of multiculturalism as an inclusive policy which respects diversity and fosters engagement with Australian values, identity and citizenship, within the framework of Australian laws.

Supported.

The Australian Government's multicultural statement Multicultural Australia - United, Strong, Successful reaffirms our commitment to a multicultural Australia, and serves as the foundation on which we can further build our multicultural society. It affirms respect for diversity and outlines the values that are shared by all Australians, as well as our mutual rights and responsibilities within Australian law.

2

The Committee supports the Government's Anti-Racism Partnership and Strategy and recommends that anti-racism messages should celebrate the benefits of cultural diversity and social acceptance.

Supported.

The Australian Government supports the National Anti-Racism Partnership Strategy and its associated campaign, Racism. It Stops With Me. The Strategy seeks to provide a clear understanding of what racism is, and how it can be prevented and reduced.

One of the strategic directions set out in the Government's multicultural statement Multicultural Australia: United, Strong, Successful is 'continuing to build harmonious and socially cohesive communities'. Strong messages supporting diversity in the Australian community are delivered through relevant social policy initiatives, including the Government's Strengthening Communities activity, and public engagement promotional campaigns supporting diversity and acceptance, such as Harmony Day.

3

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government assist community organisations and service providers to develop programs and circulate information in community languages to explain that multiculturalism is a policy of social inclusion which connotes a balance of rights, responsibilities and obligations applying to all Australians.

Supported.

As stated in Multicultural Australia: United, Strong, Successful, the Australian Government affirms the importance of mutual respect and mutual responsibility. We attribute our success as a multicultural society to a balance of rights and responsibilities that ensures a stable, resilient and harmonious society. The statement, which is available in 32 community languages, further says "Australians rightly expect that everyone who is in our country, whether or not they are Australian citizens, obeys Australian laws, supports our democratic process, and treats all people with respect and dignity."

The Australian Government provides resources to inform the community of our shared rights, responsibilities and obligations with web-translations in place across government agencies. The Australian citizenship test resource book Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond, which includes information on the importance of all Australians understanding our individual responsibilities and what it means to be a citizen, has been translated into 37 community languages. The booklet Beginning a Life in Australia, which provides information on living in Australia and our shared values and principles, is distributed in over 30 languages.

4

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government continue to support initiatives that promote programs in Australian universities, institutions and the community sector, and jointly within the region, to promote intercultural and interfaith understanding.

Supported in principle.

The multicultural statement Multicultural Australia: United, Strong, Successful reaffirms the Government's commitment to regular interfaith and intercultural dialogue.

The Australian Government funds a number of initiatives that promote greater interfaith and intercultural understanding within and between different religions and cultures domestically and internationally. These initiatives help to foster awareness, social cohesion and community harmony. The range of initiatives across government collectively foster wider inter-community understanding.

Domestic initiatives include:

- Harmony Day celebrations on 21 March, coinciding with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination;

- Targeted grant funding through the new $45.2 million Strong and Resilient Communities grants Activity, which will replace the Strengthening Communities Activity from 2018, and will support local community organisations in their efforts to overcome disadvantage and solve complex social problems;

- The Living Safe Together program, through which governments and communities work together to make Australia an even better and safer place to live;

- The National Community Hubs Program - a program that helps migrants and humanitarian entrants connect with their communities to gain new skills, including English, to participate in Australian society; and

- The National Strategy for International Education 2025, through which Government provides national leadership on international education by encouraging sectors to collaborate. Actions in the National Strategy include recognising and celebrating the benefits that international students bring to Australia and developing and sharing best practice approaches for connecting international students with communities. Enhanced engagement and understanding between Australian communities and

5

The Committee recommends the Australian Government develop a strategic plan to support the regular convening of interfaith and intercultural dialogues. Objectives, subject to appropriate measurement of outcomes, are to involve the broader community leadership, to better target settlement services, and to foster wider inter-community understanding.

 

 

international students ultimately strengthens the sector, our largest services export, and helps foster intercultural and interfaith understanding.

Internationally, the Australian Government is delivering further initiatives to foster intercultural and interfaith understanding:

- The New Colombo Plan, which provides around $50 million per year to support Australian universities and their undergraduate students to participate in study and internships in the Indo-Pacific region;

- The OS-HELP scheme, which also supports international mobility; and

- The Australia Awards offer the next generation of global leaders an opportunity to undertake study, research and professional development in Australia; and offers high-achieving Australians the same experience overseas. The Australia Awards actively promote the development of personal and professional networks between international recipients and members of the Australian community.

Successive multicultural councils have recognised the value of interfaith dialogue, and in 2014 the Australian Multicultural Council hosted an Interfaith Roundtable, bringing together faith and secular humanist leaders, civil society and government representatives, and interfaith experts.

6

The Committee does not support legal pluralism and recommends that the Government promote the message that multiculturalism entails both a respect for cultural diversity and a commitment to the framework of Australian laws and values which underpin social cohesion.

Supported.

The Australian Government's multicultural statement Multicultural Australia: United, Strong, Successful reaffirms both the shared values, and the shared rights and responsibilities of all Australians. This includes an expectation that everyone obeys Australian laws, supports our democratic process, and treats all people with respect and dignity.

7

8

The Committee recommends that the Social Inclusion Agenda includes a clear definition of social inclusion and in particular how this responds to the needs of a culturally diverse society.

The Committee recommends that further development of the Social Inclusion Agenda be more directly informed by multicultural policy through formal links between the Social Inclusion Board and peak bodies in the area of multiculturalism.

Not applicable.

These recommendations relating to the Social Inclusion Agenda are no longer applicable. The Social Inclusion Board ceased to operate in September 2013. At the time, the Australian Government centralised responsibility for community harmony, social cohesion, and cultural and linguistic diversity issues with other social policy functions in the new Department of Social Services (DSS). The merging of social policy functions has facilitated new opportunities for both specialist and mainstream services by improving linkages, collaboration and cross-pollination between programs to make improvements in the lifetime wellbeing of all Australians.

9

The Committee recommends that the Social Inclusion Agenda be modified to explicitly incorporate Culturally and Linguistically Diverse factors as indicators of potential social and economic disadvantage, and that the influence of these factors is adequately considered within the continued development of the measurement and reporting framework for social inclusion in Australia.

 

10

The Committee recommends that a strategic research partnership be investigated between the Social Inclusion Board and an independent research institute specialising in multicultural affairs, for the better collection and collation of data to inform the process of ensuring the inclusion of multicultural issues in the Social Inclusion Agenda.

11

The Committee recommends reviewing the Charter of the Public Service in a Culturally Diverse Society in order to bring it up to date and set benchmarks against which access and equity in provision of services is measured.

Supported in principle.

The Australian Government's Multicultural Access and Equity Policy builds on the Charter for Public Service in a Culturally Diverse Society and demonstrates the Australian Government's ongoing commitment to ensuring that its programs and services are accessible to all eligible Australians responsive to their needs, and deliver equitable outcomes for them regardless of their cultural and linguistic background.

In 2016, the Australian Government introduced reforms to Multicultural Access and Equity Policy implementation to make its delivery more streamlined and effective. The changes introduce six commitments essential for the effective delivery of government programs and services in a multicultural society: leadership, engagement, performance, capability, responsiveness, and openness.

12

The Committee recommends that the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet be tasked with delivery of a whole-of-government perspective on services to CALD communities including health, education, housing, and employment.

In undertaking this role, the Department should advise on and integrate with the social inclusion agenda, and interact closely with the AMC in its roles of providing research and advice on multicultural affairs and policy and strengthening the access and equity strategy.

Not applicable.

This recommendation, along with others relating to the Social Inclusion Agenda, is no longer applicable.

13

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government, through COAG and the AMC, seek to develop national planning and policy infrastructure for CALD services that includes State and Local government.

Supported in principle.

Australia has a strong history of collaboration between the three tiers of government. The Australian Government has established the Senior Officials Settlement Outcomes Group (SOSOG). SOSOG as an inter-governmental forum to consult and exchange information on a range of settlement-related issues. The SOSOG is chaired by DSS, and comprises representatives of Commonwealth agencies, state and territory governments, and the Australian Local Government Association. While SOSOG is not a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) auspiced body, significant strategic issues relating to national reform can be escalated to COAG for decision, if required.

The National Settlement Framework has also been developed in consultation with all State and Territory Governments. The Framework is a high level structural blueprint for the three tiers of government, Commonwealth, State and Territory and Local Government, to work in partnership to effectively plan and deliver services that support the settlement of migrants and new arrivals in Australia.

14

The Committee recommends increased collection, by the Australian Government, of accurate and up-to-date disaggregated data in order to identify trends in migration and multiculturalism, and to measure and address CALD related disadvantage.

Supported in principle.

The Australian Government is committed to improving the collection and collation of accurate, accessible and timely data to identify trends in migration, inform policy and program responses to migration, settlement and multicultural issues. However, it does not consider that all of the suggested approaches, such as the establishment of an independent research institute, are necessary to achieve the intent of the Committee's recommendations in this area.

The Australian Government's Multicultural Access and Equity Policy recognises the significant role that data plays in the delivery of effective government programs and services. The Policy encourages government departments and agencies to collect, analyse and share data on the cultural and linguistic diversity of their client base in order to facilitate the reduction of barriers inhibiting access to government services and the effective achievement of program outcomes.

A range of research assessing migrant settlement outcomes is currently being undertaken through collaboration across government agencies and in partnership with researchers and academics. The work includes data matching and longitudinal studies, and will continue to build national capacity.

Opportunities for researching migrant employment trends and interaction with the welfare sector are potentially available under the three-year Data Integration Partnership for Australia, though no concrete proposals for this type of study have been received at this stage.

15

The Committee recommends the establishment of a government funded, independent collaborative institute for excellence in research into multicultural affairs with functions similar to that of the former Bureau of Immigration, Multicultural and Population Research.

The institute should have a statutory framework articulating key principles of multiculturalism, functions in research and advice to government, and a cross sectoral independent board.

This institute should actively engage with local communities, private business and non-government organisations and provide data for better informed policy. The qualitative and quantitative research capabilities of the institute must enable up-to-date and easily accessible data and research analysis on social and multicultural trends.

More dedicated research into long-term migration trends occurring within Australia and the social effects of migration—such as the local impacts of migration on cultural diversity and social inclusion within Australian society — should be supported. The Committee particularly recommends an increased emphasis on qualitative data collection.

16

The Committee recommends the Department of Immigration and Citizenship collect data to support research to collect data on secondary migration in order to better drive services to where needs exist.

 

17

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government undertake greater qualitative and quantitative research on Australian expatriates, and diaspora communities settled in Australia to better inform Government policy. The Committee recommends that such research should be carried out by an independent research institute in collaboration with business councils, chambers of commerce and community groups. This research could be undertaken by the previously proposed independent collaborative institute for research into multicultural affairs.

Supported in principle.

The Australian Government supports in principle undertaking more qualitative and quantitative research on Australian expatriates, and migrant communities settled in Australia to better inform government policy. However, it believes that the establishment of an independent collaborative institute for research is not necessary to achieve the objective of the recommendation.

The Australian Government is providing Advance Global funding to enhance connections with Australian expatriates across its global network. As part of this some limited research will be undertaken.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics manages a range of statistical datasets accessible to researchers that contain information on groups that have settled in Australia. These provide a good quantitative base to understand where migrants are settling, and to better understand characteristics of migrants such as their demographic profile, education, labour force characteristics, and socio-economic status.

18

The Committee recommends that DIAC refine the AMEP through the provision of flexible learning times, greater personalised services and context specific language services related to employment and tertiary study. The Committee recommends an integrated model that links participants to other educational, skills or community based activities.

Supported.

The Australian Government announced in its 2016-17 Budget that it will implement a new Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) business model aimed at improving client participation, English language proficiency and readiness for employment. The new business model, implemented from 1 July 2017, aims to enhance flexibility and support for clients by introducing streamed tuition to better target and tailor services. Clients will be able to choose from two streams of tuition during their entry assessment - the Pre-employment English stream and Social English stream. AMEP Extend will also deliver an additional 490 hours of additional tuition to eligible clients who will complete their 510 hours entitlement without achieving their language proficiency goals.

Changes to the assessment of clients' English language proficiency will provide greater context to review client tuition needs and goals and increase alignment with the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program and other vocational programs.

AMEP is administered by the Department of Education and Training.

19

The Committee recommends that the SLPET program be fully embedded within the AMEP model to ensure that all private providers offer an additional 200 hours of vocational specific English training and work experience placement for clients that have completed over 75 per cent of their AMEP tuition.

Supported.

The Settlement Language Pathways to Employment and Training (SLPET) is a sub-program of AMEP and will continue with a renewed focus on high quality work experience placements that are relevant to the client's needs and level of English language proficiency.

SLPET provides up to 200 additional hours of vocation-specific English

language tuition, including up to 80 hours of work experience placement in a diverse range of fields, to help clients gain familiarity with Australian workplace culture and practices.

20

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government further explore the issue of standards and official accreditation for cultural competency training. This should include the investigation of existing successful models to enhance cultural competency awareness and ongoing development to meet needs.

Supported.

The Australian Government recognises the importance of cultural competency training and has arrangements in place to build cultural competency skills within the Australian Public Service (APS). The Australian Government's Multicultural Access and Equity Policy promotes strengthening cultural competency skills among APS staff and service providers.

Cultural competency skills are built into the training system through various units of competence. Training for employment in specific sectors is expected to include these units where applicable.

The Government is funding the Federation of Ethnic Communities' Council of Australia (FECCA) to conduct a review of cultural competency training more broadly, to inform future directions in this area.

21

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government recognise the role of ethno-specific organisations in the delivery of aged care services and review the demand for culturally appropriate aged care services in the immediate future.

Supported.

Policy, planning and development of aged care services for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds is guided by the National Ageing and Aged Care Strategy for People from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Backgrounds which recognises the needs of older Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and directly addresses this recommendation. The Australian Government supports a range of multicultural and ethno-specific aged care providers across Commonwealth funded aged care programs including the Commonwealth Home Support Program, Home Care Packages Program and residential care.

22

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government develop programs designed to reduce the isolation of CALD women and improve their access to employment, education and mainstream services.

Supported.

There are a number of Australian Government services that help support culturally and linguistically diverse women's access to employment, education and mainstream services, including the SEE program, the AMEP, the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program, jobactive, numerous health programs, and support from Multicultural Service Officers from the Department of Human Services.

Additionally, as part of the 2016 Budget, the Australian Government announced an additional investment of $5.7 million over three years to expand the National Community Hubs Program - a program that helps migrants and humanitarian entrants connect with their communities to gain new skills, including English, to participate in Australian society. Evaluation of the hubs shows that they are working well, and they are helping migrant women to connect with their local communities, by improving their English language skills and linking up with employment and volunteering opportunities.

 

 

The Australian Multicultural Council is focusing its advice to Government on further avenues to empower culturally and linguistically diverse women. In

 

 

May 2016, DSS, on behalf of the Council, commissioned the Australian Institute of Family Studies to conduct research on the experiences of migrant and refugee women accessing mainstream services and programs funded by the federal government.

 

 

The Australian Government is also committed to addressing isolation relating to issues of family safety, and to making the legal system accessible. For example, the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010 - 2022 recognises the different needs and experiences of women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who may face challenges in addressing violence and multiple barriers when seeking help.

 

 

The Australian Government has funded the Migration Council Australia to establish and deliver a new National Migrant and Refugee Women's Alliance

 

 

(NMRWA) from 2017-2020. NMRWA will combine grass roots participation and strong community voices with institutional reach and powerful policy advocacy networks. This model will empower migrant women to directly influence the systems that affect their wellbeing, safety and participation. The Australian Government funds six National Women's Alliances, including NMRWA, to ensure women's issues and a diversity of women's voices are represented in Australian Government decision-making and policy outcomes.

23

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government evaluate the adequacy of interpreting services available to the CALD community.

Supported.

The Australian Government delivers TIS National through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). While English is and will remain our national language, and is a critical tool for migrant integration, TIS National interpreting services allow migrants who are not fully competent in English to participate and engage with government departments and agencies, healthcare service providers, police and emergency services, utilities, banks and other private businesses. In the 2015 Management of Interpreting Services cost and performance review, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) accepted that DIBP administration of its interpreting services was well-managed and effective.

In 2015-16 the Australian Government engaged FECCA to report on the availability of language services, and particularly interpreters. The report confirmed the shortage of professional interpreters and proposed a model to address the shortage. The Australian Government then engaged FECCA to report on the feasibility of the proposed model. The Feasibility Study is currently under consideration.

24

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government works with the State and Territory Governments via COAG to develop programs to address the specific barriers faced by CALD youth.

Supported in principle.

The Australian Government recognises that culturally and linguistically diverse youth face a disparate range of issues. Consultation with peak bodies, such as the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network, provides opportunity for Government to receive first-hand feedback on individuals' experiences, and to be better informed about issues relating to culturally and linguistically clients at the community level.

Work to address multicultural youth issues would generally be facilitated by the Minister for Social Services, working together with state and territory counterparts, or through partnerships across the Commonwealth, state and territory and local governments, rather than through COAG.

The Australian Government has established SOSOG, an inter-governmental forum to consult and exchange information on a range of settlement and related issues, including those relating to culturally and linguistically diverse youth. Issues may be taken to COAG by the SOSOG as required.

The Australian Government also funds social cohesion and resilience projects directed at children and youth under 18 years through the Strengthening Communities Activity. These projects will continue to be funded through the Strong and Resilient Communities Activity, which will replace the Strengthening Communities Activity from 2018.

25

The Committee recommends that:

the Government develop a mechanism (e.g. a 'phase- in period) to ensure negative implications of sudden visa category changes, particularly for students, are avoided in the future; and

- that the status of those students affected by the implementation of recent sudden visa changes, and who remain in Australia on bridging visas, be reviewed by the Government as a matter of urgency.

Noted.

The Australian Government already has a mechanism to determine how changes to visa policy affect visa holders. In making changes to visa policy, the Australian Government considers whether transitional arrangements will apply to existing visa holders and the nature of any such transitional arrangements.

Transitional arrangements were provided to students affected by the announcement made on 8 February 2010. Almost all have now returned home or moved onto another visa.

26

The Committee recommends that a 12 month progress report on the recently implemented Skills Select program be delivered by DIAC.

Supported. .

In its 2012-13 Annual Report, the [then] Department of Immigration and Citizenship (now DIBP) published a 12-month progress report on SkillSelect, which had been implemented in July 2012. The report detailed how SkillSelect supported more efficient and effective points-tested skilled migration to Australia and outlined relevant statistics.

27

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government develop a process to periodically review and formally receive feedback on Australia's skills recognition framework including inviting post skills recognition feedback.

Supported.

Under the Migration Regulations 1994, the Minister for Education and Training has the authority to approve bodies as skilled migration assessing authorities.

The Department of Education and Training has existing processes to review and provide ongoing support to skilled migration assessing authorities, which are the main organisations responsible for skills recognition services. The department's support for assessing authorities aims to ensure that skills recognition services are: accessible, transparent, equitable and appropriate to achieve the goals of the skilled migration program.

Revised guidelines for skilled migration assessing authorities were introduced on 1 July 2015 providing an updated policy framework for assessing authorities. The updated guidelines strengthen efficiency and transparency in skills recognition, including through improved support and reporting obligations. Under the guidelines, assessing authorities are required to have clear feedback mechanisms and processes in place to resolve any issues raised by applicants seeking skills recognition.

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The Committee recommends that the Australian Government work with State Governments through COAG to develop uniform feedback and dispute resolution mechanisms on the skills recognition framework, noting that States and Territories have specific licensing and registration requirements for professional bodies.

Noted.

State and territory governments currently have processes in place to resolve specific state-based licensing and registration disputes.

29

The Committee supports an investigation of the effectiveness of Job Services Australia provision of services to CALD individuals with the aim of improving access to and outcomes from these services.

Supported in principle.

The Australian Government is committed to encouraging the economic participation of new arrivals and harnessing the advantages of our diversity.

From 1 July 2015, a new employment services system jobactive replaced Job Services Australia. The Government is committed to ensuring services under the new jobactive program are accessible to all job seekers, including those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. jobactive providers are committed to ensuring their staff have the skills and experience to provide quality, culturally sensitive support for job seekers.

All employment service providers under jobactive are contractually required to observe the jobactive Service Guarantees. The Service Guarantees require jobactive providers to treat job seekers fairly, with respect, in a culturally sensitive way and to deliver services in line with job seekers' individual needs.

30

The Committee recommends Job Services Australia increase its interpreter and translator services, and improve access to these services for its clients.

Supported in principle.

In line with the new employment services system, jobactive providers are required under the jobactive Deed 2015-2020 to offer job seekers an interpreter where necessary, and to act with fairness and without discrimination.

A factsheet containing key information on the jobactive program for job seekers has been translated into ten key languages, and a jobactive factsheet for employers has been translated into six languages.

31

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government develop initiatives for organisations to provide tailored opportunities for employment for CALD individuals such as the collaboration between National Australia Bank and Jesuit Social Services in delivering the African Australian Inclusion Program.

Supported in principle.

The Australian Government is committed to harnessing the advantages of our diversity. Our economy is strengthened by the skills, knowledge, linguistic capabilities, networks and creativity of our diverse workforce.

The Department of Employment provides support to the Friendly Nation Initiative, a business led strategy that seeks to increase employment, mentoring, training, and internship opportunities for refugees and humanitarian migrants. This initiative is supported through jobactive, which provides job seekers (including refugee, humanitarian and culturally and linguistically diverse job seekers) with a range of targeted assistance including pre-employment training, work-related equipment and access to targeted wage subsidies. The new Career Pathways Pilot announced in the 2016 Budget also helps newly arrived humanitarian entrants to better use their skills and qualifications in Australia and to pursue a meaningful career pathway.

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The Committee recommends that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science, Research and Tertiary Education work with the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations to investigate the barriers affecting the full participation of CALD individuals in the Australian workforce.

The Committee recommends that the existing New Enterprise Incentive Scheme be expanded beyond Job Services Australia, and adapted to ensure the needs of men and women of CALD background, including refugees, are better catered for. The Enterprising Women Project is a useful model. The expanded Scheme should be flexible in the way it provides incentives to support new migrant businesses, and include initiatives such as mentoring, financial skills and literacy, microcredit and no interest loans.

Supported in principle.

As outlined in the Australian Government's multicultural statement Multicultural Australia: United, Strong, Successful, one of our strategic directions is to encourage the economic and social participation of new arrivals.

Commonwealth agencies have a long history of collaboration on issues relating to multicultural affairs, including through SOSOG. As part of the 2016-17 Budget, the Australian Government announced a number of changes to expand self-employment opportunities and encourage entrepreneurship. These include broadening eligibility for the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme to allow job seekers not on income support and not in employment, education or training access.

Commonwealth agencies continue to work collaboratively to improve employment outcomes for humanitarian entrants. In 2017, a cross-agency working group is looking at options that build on existing initiatives to strengthen employment outcomes for this cohort.