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CISA Conference 2015 Day 3: Candidates step forward

Stephen Clarke

Thu Jul 09 2015

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AS the fifth annual CISA conference draws to a close, nominations for positions on the council are open and many students are hopeful of fitting into the role. Stephen Clarke has more. 

Nominations for the 11 positions now available on the council were opened at yesterday’s third and final day of CISA Conference 2015.

In all, 52 hopeful international students will be contesting for these positions with voting taking place today at the student body’s Annual General Meeting where each candidate will have presented a speech on their hopes and aspirations for their proposed roles.

Outgoing President Thomson Ch’ng said he was “very confident” about the future direction that CISA is heading in and that he had seen “a lot of potential” among the students who had congregated for the conference.

Employability and work rights

After three days of panels and discussions, it was clear that there was a sharpening focus on employability throughout this year’s conference.

The Ombudsman Panel drew many questions from the floor about discrimination, unsafe work practises and the ethics of unwritten promises of post-study employability. The panel had representatives from the Overseas Students, Fair Work and State and Territory Ombudsman’s, as well as a representative of the Human Rights Commission.

Director of the Overseas Workers Team for the Fair Work Ombudsman, Carey Trundle, said that students need to engage more with authorities when they fear they are being exploited at work.

“International students only make up about five per cent of complaints coming to the Fair Work Ombudsman,” said Trundle.

In one example provided, an international student who was injured at work was given no medical assistance and was subsequently fired. After taking the issue up with the Fair Work Ombudsman, his job was reinstated, and he received $3,100 in lost wages along with a written letter of apology.

The Overseas Students Ombudsman meanwhile encouraged students to come forward if they believed their education provider was charging them incorrectly. Since 2011, the department has helped students to recover more than $400,000 from private education providers.

On the topic of employability Mr Ch’ng stressed the conference’s focus on the matter was due to it being an “ongoing issue for the last five years” and that CISA hadn’t seen too much progress made in that area.

“The whole discussion of the conference at the moment, what we’re seeing, is that employability is a key issue. So, the message has to be communicated across to the employer groups, because we can’t keep communicating to the converted. We need to make sure that if we’re talking about employers not providing enough opportunity for students, then we have to do something.”

International guest and new student welcome desk

Elsewhere, CISA’s first international conference speaker, President of the National Indian Students Union UK (NISU) Sanam Arora, flew into Melbourne for the conference and gave an impassioned talk on her role representing Indian students in the UK.

Finally, the announcement of an international student welcome desk at Sydney airport received a warm round of applause from the crowd. The desk will be staffed by student volunteers, who will greet and provide orientation information for students on arrival into Sydney. The desk will be open as of July 13.