19 May 2009

Permanent Australian visa holders warned to stop sectarian conflict

Permanent Australian visa holders have been warned by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Senator Chris Evans that acts of sectarian violence could result in the cancellation of their permanent Australian visa.

Senator Evans has made the warning to permanent Australian visa holders after three young Sri Lankan men were taken to hospital as a result of ethnic violence.  Living in Western Sydney, the men were attacked after tensions between the Tamil and Sinhalese communities escalated. 

"This was an horrific attack and the Government wants to stress that ethnic or religious-based violence is unacceptable in Australian society," Senator Evans said.

"The Australian Government condemns any form of sectarian conflict and, indeed, there are grounds to cancel people’s visas under the Migration Act should they engage in serious crime."

While the Government will be working with community groups to develop strategies to ease political tensions, they are also making it loud and clear that emigrating to Australia on a permanent Australian visa does not mean that migrants are immune to deportation. 

Senator Evans also stressed that the Australian community is founded on migration and multiculturalism, and as such, community cohesion and harmony is essential to the wellbeing of the nation.

"The recent clashes between some members of the Sinhalese and Tamil communities are unfortunate given the considerable contribution both communities have given to Australia’s social and economic development," the minister said.

"There are nearly 9000 people with Tamil ancestry and some 74 000 with Sinhalese ancestry in Australia and both have made significant contributions in a range of professional fields including medicine, information technology, mathematics and business."

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.

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