A now-defunct migration program promoted by the ACT Government is about to be sued by local Canberra students. The program’s shutdown has affected the plans and futures of ANU international students.

The ACT migration scheme was available to anyone living in Canberra for over 12 months, regardless of skill set. It was popular among students who would study at Canberra institutions, including the ANU, in order to fulfill the criteria.

The program has now been replaced by a points based scheme called ‘Canberra Matrix’, where applicants are ranked against each other. Applications made under the old scheme are being processed using the new Matrix.

Nicholas Houston is a lawyer at VisAustralia, the firm representing the affected students. He said the ACT Government should have been aware that the program was oversubscribed to, and would have to be terminated.

Affected students are now planning to sue the ACT Government under Australian Consumer Law for “misleading and deceptive conduct” and “unconscionable conduct” over its advertising and management of the program.

This move is supported by advocacy bodies at the ANU – including PARSA, the postgraduate association, and the International Students Department.

Collaborating with VisAustralia, PARSA International Rep Yuan Chai translated the law firm’s online post on the issue to Chinese and published it on local media networks. He “received 50+ responses saying they’ve been affected by the new policy”. He said many of those responding to his posts were ANU students affected by the changes.

Protests occurred outside the ACT Legislative Assembly in late 2018, as talks continued between stakeholders and the ACT Government.

The Council of International Students President Bijay Sapkota said at the time “we have supported the students protest organised in ACT wholeheartedly… We are sending out recommendations to the government on behalf of the international community in Canberra, so that a mutual consensus is reached.”
SBS reported in December that hundreds still remain in Canberra and are now preparing to sue.

If you are a student affected by these changes, the law firm VisAustralia is asking for your information.

You can contact them here:
http://www.visaustralia.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=271:international-students-considering-legal-action-against-act-government&Itemid=364&lang=en