The Australian government announced Thursday that it will address alleged abuses of its migration and visa system in an effort to crack down on human trafficking and other forms of organized crime.In January 2023, former Chief Commissioner of the Victoria Police Christine Nixon was appointed to undertake a Rapid Review into the Exploitation of Australia’s Visa System. The review identified gaps and weaknesses in Australia’s visa system. The review found: that a greater focus is needed on investigative and enforcement capacity to effectively deter and disrupt serious visa and migration fraud and organized crime; the regulation of registered migration agents must be strengthened to stop the exploitation of the system; the regulation of education agents must be considered, and the regulation of education providers strengthened to stop exploitation of the system; temporary migrant workers are at greater risk of employer abuse and exploitation; Australia’s visa system is being exploited when identity and criminal history is not verified; protracted processing times for some visa subclasses and merits review processes are motivating abuse of Australia’s visa system; and the Department’s Integrity and Professional Standards Framework should be strengthened to prevent risks presented by staff corruption, fraud and other unlawful activities. In response to Nixon’s recommendations, the government announced it will address the identified gaps and rebuild the integrity of the visa system. The government stated that it is “committed to ensuring lawful providers of immigration assistance are persons of integrity and good character.” The government also stated that the Fit, Proper and Person of integrity (FPP) assessment framework for RMAs will be strengthened, with a background check component facilitated via AusCheck, a public background check system.  The government announced it will commit $50 million over 4 years to establish a new Immigration Compliance Division within the Department of Home Affairs to boost immigration compliance, which will target organized abuse of immigration programs and resolve the status of people whose visa options have been exhausted, but who remain in Australia. The Home Affairs Minister, Clare O’Neil in a statement to ABC news, said that, “A permanent strike force, which will move around the immigration system and address the big problems that we see and make sure that the people who are responsible are routed out and held accountable.”Australian immigrants rights group Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) welcomed the announcement, stating, “RACS is relieved to see the Govt taking steps to ensure swift safety and access to certainty for people seeking asylum. This should be done in a humane way that preserves the fundamental right to seek protection from persecution.” Refugee Council of Australia also welcomed the changes, stating:The suite of measures announced today by Immigration Minister Andrew Giles will, we hope, bring much-needed change to Australia’s onshore protection system, offering greater hope that people will no longer have to wait many years for decisions on applications for refugee protection.

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