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The following articles are provided courtesy of the Southern Cross Group


Are You Overseas Because a Company Posted You (or Your Spouse)?

You are needed for important research! The SCG has been contacted by Julie Yuen, an honours student at the University of Melbourne who is exploring the notion of expatriate success and failure and trying to investigate the reasons behind the success or failure of international assignments. As spouses are often one of the most significant contributing factors behind expatriate success and failure attention will be directed to why this is the case. If you can help, please download notes on the study and the survey forms (four documents in total) in the archives of our site. Julie can be contacted directly at j.yuen3@ugrad.unimelb.edu.au.

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Working in the UK and Planning to Return Home?

Tim Neslen, a student at Oxford, is carrying out research on intentions governing Southern Hemisphere migration for Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans currently working in the UK but planning to return home at some point. Give him a hand by completing his online survey here.

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Media Release - Expats Qualify for Australian of the Year Awards

The Southern Cross Group welcomed the launch of the 2004 Australian of the Year awards, and called on Australians at home and overseas to nominate outstanding Australians overseas for the awards.

This year, individuals in the Australian expatriate community qualified to be nominated. That was not the case last year. Due to recent advocacy efforts by the Southern Cross Group, the old requirement that candidates for the awards be "principally resident in Australia" has now been removed.

The Southern Cross Group made representations on behalf of the Australian diaspora that it was discriminatory to exclude from the awards the some 860,000 Australians who live overseas. Many in the expatriate community make significant and valuable contributions to Australia in a multitude of ways.

The Group also suggested that alongside Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Senior Australian of the Year it is time to consider establishing a new award - Expatriate Australian of the Year. Every Australian overseas is an ambassador for Australia in the global community.

Initial attempts to get the National Australia Day Council to reconsider the eligibility criteria and the establishment of an Expatriate Australian of the Year Award were unsuccessful. However, a letter to the Prime Minister in December 2002 eventually resulted in the National Australia Day Council reconsidering the criteria for the awards in April 2003, so that now overseas Australians can be nominated for the existing awards, although there is still no award for Expatriate Australian of the Year.

For further information on the Southern Cross Group's representations on this subject, see:

http://www.southern-cross-group.org/expataustralian/intro.html

Nominations for the 2004 Australian of the Year closed on 29 August 2003.

Nominations for future years can be made online at:

http://www.australianoftheyear.gov.au

As the program has a state/territory level, those nominating expatriate Australians for the awards will have to suggest in which jurisdiction (state or territory in Australia) the nomination should be considered. This will probably be the state or territory the person being nominated lived in prior to their departure from Australia.

The SCG remains of the view that the establishment of an Expatriate Australian of the Year Award would be desirable, in view of the increasing numbers of Australians who live overseas and their commitment and important contributions to Australia from afar.

July 2003

info@southern-cross-group.org

www.southern-cross-group.org

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Nikki Gemmell to write Aussie Expat Book Foreword

The Southern Cross Group is pleased to announce that well-known Australian author Nikki Gemmell has agreed to write the foreword to a book to be published in October this year containing the stories of Australian expats.

Nikki, herself an expat, has just had her fourth novel, The Bride Stripped Bare, published by Fourth Estate.

The Southern Cross Group has been soliciting non-fiction stories from Australia's one million expatriates for inclusion in the forthcoming book, which will be published by Global Exchange. 

The aim is to produce a book containing 20 to 25 stories of between 2000 - 3000 words, in the voices of Australians overseas of all ages, occupations and in many countries. The theme will be how individuals got where they are and their personal journey as overseas Australians and observations along the way.

The deadline for stories for this volume was 31 July 2003. Stories which are not included in the book will be held over for a second volume or published on the SCG's website. All contributions are very welcome.

Stories should be sent to info@southern-cross-group.org

Further information, including a detailed style guide/information document, is available at:

http://www.southern-cross-group.org

For publisher information, see http://www.globalexchange.com.au

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Media Release - Australians Overseas Only Half Citizens

With almost a million Australians living overseas, just about every Australian at home has a family member, friend or acquaintance outside the country. But few at home would realise that hundreds of thousands of their overseas compatriots are being denied their right to vote as Australian citizens.

The Southern Cross Group (SCG) www.southern-cross-group.org expressed its disappointment today on recommended changes to Australia's overseas voting rules in a Report tabled in Federal Parliament on Monday.

The SCG views the recommendations as token. Even if they eventually become law, hundreds of thousands will remain disenfranchised.

Speaking from Brussels, SCG Co-founder and lawyer Anne MacGregor said that the Report tabled in Canberra on 23 June 2003 by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) essentially ignores a major fundamental rights issue facing Australia today in a globalising world.

She said, "Australia's current legislation on electoral enrolment for overseas Australians effectively operates to disenfranchise a significant number of Australian citizens. The right to vote is a fundamental right attached to citizenship. We believe that provisions in the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 may be in breach of Australia's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."

Despite the fact that JSCEM chairman Petro Georgiou has made much of the fact that this is the “first unanimous post-election report the committee has produced in 13 years”, the SCG questions whether Democrat JSCEM members Senators Andrew Bartlett and Andrew Murray stand behind the limited recommendations which would still leave so many disenfranchised. Their supplementary remarks at the back of the report are clearly inconsistent when they state that “all citizens of Australia should be entitled to vote. It is a right that attaches to citizenship of this country, and should not be removed.”

Statistics available to the Southern Cross Group indicate that there are in the order of 645,000 Australian citizens living overseas aged 18 or over. But only 63,036 votes were issued overseas for the November 2001 election.

Voting for Australians outside Australia is not compulsory. While many expatriates have no desire to vote from afar, a significant number have contacted the SCG expressing their disgruntlement with the fact that they want to vote, but can't.

A recent survey of 2,000 expats indicates that 79.3% of those away feel that Australia remains their home, and 79.6% were of the view that their presence overseas benefits Australia.

The disenfranchisement problem lies in the fact that in order to vote, a person must be on the electoral roll. It's easy to be wiped off the electoral roll if the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) believes you are no longer at the address for which you are enrolled.

To stay on the roll while overseas, expats going away for more than a short period can apply for Eligible Overseas Elector (EOE) status, but they may only do this within two years of leaving Australia. Even though voting from overseas is not compulsory, if an EOE doesn't vote in one election, they will be subsequently wiped off the roll. 

If expats are not on the electoral roll, then enrolment from overseas is possible, but again, only within two years of leaving Australia. 

The JSCEM recommends changing these two year cut-off points to three years. That will help those who have recently departed or leave in the future, but it won't allow hundreds of thousands of expats who left more than three years ago (if the changes become law) to re-enrol if they've been wiped off. They will remain disenfranchised. 

Angela Ryan, SCG representative and lawyer in Melbourne, said that the JSCEM received some 90 submissions on this issue from individual disenfranchised expats, many of whom had tried to have their say during the 1999 referendum on the republic, but were excluded.

Despite the fact that overseas voting rights were the subject of almost half the total number of submissions to the JSCEM inquiry, the matter rated only 18 pages in a report of 383 pages. 

A number of practical suggestions by the SCG as to how the AEC could do its job better vis-à-vis overseas citizens were ignored.

The Group hopes that these and other expatriate issues can be properly addressed in the context of a broader Parliamentary inquiry into the Australian diaspora which the ALP has indicated it supports.

"Australia's elected politicians still view Australia as comprising only those Australians who are physically in Australia", Ms Ryan said. "But Australia is the entirety of its people - wherever they may be. It's staggering to think that a major group of Australian citizens does not have the right to vote in modern Australia."

Contacts:
Brussels: Anne MacGregor mobile +32 474 950 131
Melbourne: Angela Ryan mobile (0415) 875 177, fixed (03) 9429 1686

E-mail:  info@southern-cross-group.org 

Website:  www.southern-cross-group.org 

JSCEM Inquiry Submissions:  http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/em/elect01/subs.htm

JSCEM Inquiry Report:  http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/em/elect01/report.htm

26 June 2003
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UK Working Holiday Changes Good for Young Australians

The Southern Cross Group (SCG) welcomes long-awaited changes announced in London on 20 June 2003 concerning the UK's Working Holidaymaker Scheme.

The UK Home Office has announced that it is raising the upper age limit for working holidaymakers from 27 to 30. In addition, employment restrictions have been removed, and after 12 months in the UK, working holidaymakers will be formally allowed to "switch" status into work permit employment.

Speaking from Brussels, Anne MacGregor, SCG Co-founder, said that the Group was pleased with the outcome of the Home Office's review of the UK Scheme. "Around 20,000 young Australians enter the UK on two-year working holiday visas every year, and Australians are by far the biggest users of the UK Scheme, which is open to all Commonwealth citizens.

"Raising the age limit to 30 and removing employment restrictions will give more young Australians a chance to finish their tertiary education in Australia before heading to the UK for a working holiday, and they'll be able to gain valuable experience working in their professions in the UK to bring back to Australia, whereas before they were largely restricted to unskilled jobs. Raising the age limit also means more young Australians can gain work experience at home before going away on this traditional right of passage." 

The SCG was concerned in early 2002 that the UK might impose an annual quota on the number of young Australians who could be issued UK working holiday visas. But following public submissions from the SCG and others in August 2002 in response to a consultation document, that will not be the case.

There was also discussion during the review as to whether individuals should be allowed to have more than one UK working holidaymaker visa during their lifetime. The Home Office has announced however that there will be no change to that aspect of the Scheme and that once a person has exhausted their UK working holiday visa, in order to return to the UK at a later time or to remain in the UK after their two-year visa expires they will need to apply as appropriate for a different visa to re-enter or change their immigration status, for example, into work permit employment sponsored by a UK employer.

An overview of the changes, as well as links to the Southern Cross Group's August 2002 Home Office submission and other relevant information, can be found at:

http://www.southern-cross-group.org/uk_visas_immigration/working_holidaymakers.html

The Southern Cross Group continues to press the Australian government for further working holiday arrangements between Australia and other countries. Young Australians can presently go on working holidays to Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. A new agreement with Belgium is expected to come into force in 2004 or 2005. The Group would warmly support increased efforts by the Australian government to negotiate a similar arrangement with the United States.

http://www.southern-cross-group.org

info@southern-cross-group.org

20 June 2003

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