Sydney/11 October, 2017
Australian High Commissioner to India (New Delhi), Ms Harinder Sidhu, is in Australia presently. She is here for the mid term consultations with the Government and various stakeholders. As part of these consultations, she met a select group of Indian Australian community representatives These reps included people from various segments and faiths.
An hour-long session in the DIBP offices in Parramatta gave an opportunity for all of us to understand and raise relevant issues.
From Federation of Indian Associations of NSW (FIAN), Abhijeet Martand and I participated. Mr SK Verma participated on behalf of the Consulate General of India in Sydney.
We emphasized the role of Indian Australian community as the bridge between India and Australia and their usefulness in enhancing the relations between Australia and India. I pointed out how we (community) took up the matters during students’ troubles in 2009-10 and helped counter “Australia is racist” campaign by Indian media. I reiterated that then Australian Government did not utilize the community meaningfully in countering the campaign by Indian media.
Some wanted to be listed with the Govt agencies for people to contact them when needing help, but we expressed our strong view that no such listing etc should be done without involvement of, and vetting by, the Government agencies because some “leaders” are known to exploit our own people.
The issue involving the visa for priests was raised. It was mentioned that the standard of English requirement is onerous and excessive. I pointed out that the matter was also raised in the Q & A session with DIBP Assistant Minister, Alex Hawke, in a recent meeting organized by FIAN, and that it will be better if we work together and raise the matter with the Minister directory. The High Commissioner agreed that the matter is in the policy domain and will better be dealt with the Government. We have a plan to organize a meeting involving key stakeholders and then meet the DIBP Assistant Minister.
Dr Yadu Singh