MORE than 11 illegal immigrants are arrested in Victoria every week and the numbers are expected to continue to rise. In the past financial year 612 people were arrested – up from 429 the year before. Few of the illegal workers were likely to be asylum seekers who arrived by boat, with 517 arrested after overstaying their visa. A further 95 were on the run following their visa being cancelled. The figure was revealed last month as the Department of Immigration and Citizenship prepared to deport 13 illegal farm workers located in northwestern Victoria. Nine men and four women, all Malaysian nationals, had been employed on farms as pruners. They were caught in a 48-hour operation chasing illegal workers in the Mallee.
The detainees were transferred to Melbourne’s Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre and nine to the Adelaide Immigration Transit Accommodation facility, pending their removal from Australia. All had overstayed their visas and were living here unlawfully, according to the department. Two other foreign nationals were given warnings, including a Malaysian national who was in Australia on a student visa but had not been studying. The employer faces fines of $13,200 and two years’ imprisonment per illegal worker. In Australia there are an estimated 19,540 people who have overstayed their visa – an increase of 4430 from the 2009-10 financial year. In response to the growing numbers of people overstaying their visas, last month the Federal Government announced a crackdown. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen promoted the dob-in line and encouraged anyone with information about illegal workers, visa over stayers or visa fraud to call 1800 009 623
Accessing the law
Migrants coming to Australia face various difficulties when accessing the law. Such dilemmas are brought about by various factors including the inability to communicate due to language restrictions and lower standards of income levels limiting access to appropriate facilities. Furthermore, the lack of knowledge of the Australian legal system and their own rights further restricts their ability to access a fair and just outcome. Due to these multiple factors an evident divide is apparent between the ability of inherent Australians and migrants in accessing the Australian legal system A major reason migrants are unable to access the law is because of the distinctive language barrier. Statistics as recorded in 2006 indicate that 74% of migrants cannot speak English well or cannot speak English at all (abs.gov.au). This has had a major impact on their ability to access the law.
As they are illiterate in the English language they are unable to interoperate any possible help. This places them at a disadvantage as it is fundamental to know English when coming across the law. As shown in the case more than 11 illegal immigrants are arrested each week, meaning that most are unable to speak English, each of these illegal immigrants need legal representation to appear in court, as the majority of these immigrants cannot speak English they will need an interpreter. This makes it more difficult on the immigrant as they are not communicating directly with the judge, thus their opinion may be ‘lost in translation’. Due to their inability to communicate, their knowledge of the Australian legal system is further restricted as simple tasks such as reading, writing and communicating in English cannot occur. Due to such issues migrants may be unaware of information and assistance programs available to them, and so they are incapable of accessing the legal system in such a way where their needs and wants are met.
This is made evident through recent statistics that indicate 49% of migrants have come to Australia with post school qualifications, leaving the other 51% without a proper education. (abs.gov.au) However, this statistic can be ambiguous as illegal immigrants are not accounted for. Every legal system around the world is different, most migrants who come to Australia are unaware of their rights and do not understand what the law is asking of them. As shown in the case, 517 immigrants were arrested, this further justifies their lack of knowledge as they may have been un aware of when they were scheduled to depart from Australia.
Migrants who flee to Australia come with little money or no money at all. This creates a barrier when trying to access the law as money is what places the migrant at an advantage. As most these migrants did not receive a proper education their level of skills may be limited and so obtaining work is another challenge. The income levels of migrants are likely to have only just been sufficient for their daily needs, whereas those who have achieved higher levels of education are exposed to a wider range of job opportunities allowing them to obtain better access to legal representation. Exemplified in the case 612 people were arrested, due to their low socio economic status legal aid is provided during court. Legal aid can be ineffective in some aspects as some are not as experienced and can be placed at a disadvantage when up against those who can afford barristers and QC’s. Communication can also be a barrier due to the lack of understanding and the immigrant unable to speak English. Accessing the law
Every person in this world has rights, rights to access the law in a fair, just an equal way. However, there are various groups in Australia who face difficulties in accessing the law, in particular migrants. There are many outstanding factors which contribute to this problem; language barriers, discrimination, low income and lack of recognition of cultural differences, each play a major role in how migrants are faced with difficulties when trying to access the law. The purpose of this report is to show awareness and educate the people on how the Australian legal system can help migrants facing issues regarding accessing the law. Effectiveness of the legal system
Over time, the legal system has become aware of the unsettled issues in society regarding various groups who are put at a disadvantage in retrieving equal access to the law. One major issue which most groups face (in particular migrants) is regarding the language barrier. As many of these groups are from ethnic backgrounds, the ability to interoperate legal documents and understand their rights as a migrant is very difficult. As the government has taken this into consideration, the adult migrant English program was created. Migrants are able to have equal access in learning the English language by either sitting a class, taking tutoring lessons, doing the class online or by a distance learning program. However the end result of this program was not effective as in 1993, the funds to this program were cut, and the classes were limited.
This affects many of the migrants as their only way of learning English in Australia has been terminated, therefore they are faced at a disadvantage when accessing the law. In 1992, a report called multiculturalism and the law was released it stated there was a need for interoperates, this relates to the migrants who are unable to speak English. With the representation of the interpreter the migrant will be able to express themselves and then in return not only will migrants understand what the legal system is asking of them, they will also be able to acknowledge their rights and responsibilities. Statistics show that 20.1% of NWS residents speak another language than English at home.(abs.gov.au) Therefore, there are capable people of performing this job.
Although it is virtually impossible to enforce and control discrimination, there are acts which help assist in discontinuing the use of discrimination to people , especially the indigenous Australians. A recent program called ‘close the gap’ was created to basically close the gap between the Australians and the indigenous Australians meaning both are the same and both share the same rights and responsibilities. Studies show that indigenous earn around $460 a week whereas the average non indigenous earns around $740 a week (http://www.abs.gov.au) Mean Equivalised Gross Household Income,
As shown in the above graph non indigenous earn more than an average indigenous person. As part of the close the gap program, the government has implemented housing commission (2011), where a person with a low income (indigenous) are able to live in a house and only pay a small amount of money to maintain the house and the rest is funded by the government. This is very effective as it gives those indigenous who are struggling a place to live and therefore, they do not have to seek refuge in a shelter or temporary housing.
Shelters may have limited space and therefore there may not be enough room at all times. In 1995, the racial discrimination act was re written along with the introduction of the racial hatred act 1995. This act forbids any form of offensive behaviour based on racial hatred. This act states it Is illegal to offend anyone in public about their race, colour, ethnic or national origin. This is a very effective act as it forbids any type of discrimination; this will put a stop to many disputes about groups especially the indigenous Australians and migrants who believe to be discriminated against. Conclusion
In conclusion, all groups in society will face a barrier or obstacle in accessing the law, mainly regarding the main factors of language barrier, lack of recognition and low income. Although these groups are disadvantaged the government has implemented many acts which assist these differences, some are effective and some are ineffective compared to others. Overall, it is important to promote an environment where all groups in society are equal and able to achieve equal access to the law no matter who the group is.
White, Alex, A.w. “Illegal Immigrant Arrests Are on the Rise across Victoria.” NewsComAu. Herald Sun, 7 Sept. 2012. Web. 8 Mar. 2013. Law and Justice Foundation. EdDesk, 9 Aug. 2010. Web. 12 Mar. 2013.
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