There have been some recent articles in the press in Australia concerning the exploitation of foreign students in Australia. This comes on the back of Indian students claiming that racism was a motivating factor for recent robberies of Indian students. Living in Sydney and having some involvement with recent immigration arrivals to Australia, I wanted to record a couple of thoughts and observations. I will do this over a few days.
Firstly, I do not think that Australia is any more racist than it was 10 years or 20 years ago. In fact, I think it has become a little more laissez–faire in that respect over the past 20 years. The spate of robberies recently was not so much directed at the Indian students that were robbed, but rather at targets of opportunity in areas of Sydney and Melbourne that most locals consider unsafe areas to be in. In the case of Harris Park in Sydney, this area had been the subject of a number of complaints over many years, and many years before there was a large population of Indian students in the area.
I think the problem recently was that the Indian students were looking for a reason to have been robbed and using the excuse of “racism” somehow abrogates them of responsibility for their own safety.
The increase in student numbers was always going to cause some problems but it seems that a number of people are taking great advantage of these increases. The Sydney Morning Herald ran two pieces yesterday and today, namely, Foreign students exploited as slaves and Visa racket leaves foreign students exposed.
Basically, the crux of these is that there have been a number of vocational schools set up to train the likes of hairdressers and cooks. Perhaps these courses are also tied off with some general English instruction as well. Interestingly, both cooks and hairdressers are on the skills shortage list for immigration to Australia.
So, the scam works something like this.
You sell a vocational training course to someone in another country. They then apply for and have a student visa granted. They come to Australia. The training school is crap, doesn’t do the training. However, the school ties the student up with someone to certify that they have done the 900 hours work experience necessary. Of course, another fee is paid for this but at the end of it the student gets to apply for their Permanent Residence and never has to cut a hair. The Permanent Residence is approved and we all have longer messier hair.
Worse are the cases where the student is sent somewhere to work the 900 hours with no salary or where the student has to work and then still pay for the certificate.
This needs cleaning up and quickly. What also needs cleaning up is the variable standard of the private English language schools in Australia as well. Many are also just operating as a means for folks to come to Australia on a student visa and then work.
Worst of all are the companies that are preying on those students. The little manufacturing companies that are paying students $10 an hour, cash in hand – so no taxes paid, a salary that is less than the minimum wage and I would also bet that there are no worker’s compensation insurance payments made either. Then there are the companies that are not paying anything and having the students held to ransom for their 900 hour work experience certificate. To quote a cooking trainer (who wanted to retain his anonymity):
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