19 March 2013

Ombudsman given oversight of tightened 457 scheme

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Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten has said Fair Work inspectors will be handed powers to oversee the updated 457 visa scheme.

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The Fair Work Ombudsman will be responsible for overseeing the 457 visa program.

The 457 visa program - which allows overseas workers to temporarily live and work in Australia - is currently at the centre of an ongoing political debate due to claims of abuse within the system.

The government announced last month updates would be made to Australian immigration policy in order to root out abuse of the system and ensure that Australian workers are not overlooked for employment opportunities.

Mr Shorten confirmed the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) - which already carries out 10,000 workplace inspections a year - would be handed oversight of the system.

"In terms of our workplace relations, it's about making sure the jobs that people perform, the training opportunities that people are promised - both for Australians and for visitors and guest workers in our country - that the promises are being kept," said the minister.

Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor, who originally announced the changes, said it was important both employees and employers could have confidence in the system - and the legislation will reflect that.

The minister added that despite criticism that the changes are coming in the run up to the federal election later this year, work had actually been progressing on the changes for 12 months:

"We will continue to do the right thing to ensure we have the integrity of this scheme in place," he said.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy.

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