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Australian Consulate now offering assistance to neo-Nazi gang attack victim Minh Duong

IMMIGRATION minister Scott Morrison says the Australian Consulate is assisting gang attack victim Minh Duong in Vietnam while his department investigates the visa discrepancy. Diane Leow reports.

Photo via change.org

Photo via change.org

Immigration minister Scott Morrison says the Australian Consulate in Vietnam has been in touch with neo-Nazi gang attack victim Minh Duong to offer assistance on a new visa application to return to Australia.

The Swinburne University Advanced Diploma of Accounting student is currently stranded in Ho Chi Minh City as he has been prevented from entering Australia for three years.

Mr Duong’s predicament was brought to the attention of Mr Morrison after an online petition – signed by more than 80,000 people imploring the immigration minister to intervene – was widely reported in the media.

My department at our consulate in Ho Chi Minh City has been in contact with Mr Duong and is available to assist him in how best to put forward an application that could permit his return to Australia…” – Immigration Minister Scott Morrison

In June 2012, Mr Duong was punched, kicked and stabbed by three members of a neo-Nazi gang on an Ascot Vale street in Melbourne. The gang members also hit Mr Duong on the head with a brick with such force that the brick broke in two.

Mr Duong, who travelled home to see his family for the first time since the attack, was stopped at Melbourne Airport on January 8 this year and ordered to return to Vietnam after immigration officials claimed he was an “unlawful non-citizen” as his last student visa expired on March 15, 2013.

However, in a report published yesterday, Fairfax Media said it held a copy of a May 2010 email sent to Mr Duong by the Immigration Department confirming his original visa did not expire until March 15 this year.

Photo: Scott Morrison MP via Flickr.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Scott Morrison MP via Flickr.

In a statement released today, Mr Morrison said his department was “taking further steps to investigate the discrepancy”.

Mr Morrison said individual immigration matters were often complex and their management must follow procedures and requirements set out in the Migration Act.

“My department at our consulate in Ho Chi Minh City has been in contact with Mr Duong and is available to assist him in how best to put forward an application that could permit his return to Australia, subject to satisfying the legal requirements of the relevant visa,” he said.

The Council of International Students Australia president Thomson Ch’ng said the issue was between visa cancellation and visa expiration, and “a clarification needs to be made”.

He notes the Australian regulation under the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act defines compassionate or compelling circumstances as generally those beyond the control of the student and which affect the student’s course progress or wellbeing.

Under these circumstances, education providers will have the responsibility in managing the period between the suspension period and returning to study, which potentially involves reissuing a new Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) Letter with a new course duration date.

Swinburne University’s director of communications Tom Hyland said Mr Duong’s welfare was a “matter of priority”, and that the university has been in contact with him and the immigration authorities, “with whom we are working co-operatively”.

Related story: Minh Duong case: Petitioner says he wasn’t out to fault the government

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