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A SPECIALIST integrity unit has been formed inside the Department of Immigration to deal with widespread fraud in the working holiday visa program, on which industries such as fruit growing depend.

More than 200 internet advertisements have been found offering to buy or sell documents allowing backpackers to claim they had worked in rural jobs without them leaving Sydney, and thus extend their working holiday visas. The standard fee is $400. So far, 64 visas have been cancelled over the fraud and at least 19 more are being reviewed.

One man, an Irish national, has been convicted of fraud. ”There’s been more than 100 fraudulent claims identified this financial year,” a spokeswoman for the department said. ”The answer is we don’t know [the full extent of the fraud]. At this stage it’s too early to determine and we will be looking at it over the next six months.”

The working holiday visa (subclass 417) allows people to extend their stay in Australia by a year if they can prove they have worked in a rural area for three months. Applications are lodged online but have been abused by people selling Australian business numbers linked to farms so backpackers can falsely claim they worked on farms.

”Second year visas for sale,” one ad read. ”Will email completed 1263 form and add your details to my books so you can gain second year visa with ease.”

Another ad offering similar services, posted on the Gumtree website on Saturday, had received more than 2000 hits by last night. Unlike visa scams targeting international students, mainly Indians, this fraud is used mainly by European visitors.

One backpacker told the Herald he had been offered the false documentation as soon as be arrived in Australia, by people staying at the same hostel.

”People told me about buying the documents – getting the numbers to put in,” he said. ”When I arrived here people said you can go there [to a farm] or you can buy. Everyone knows about it. It’s easy. All the people who are here know about that.”

The federal Opposition spokeswoman on immigration, Sharman Stone, said the widespread fraud reflected under-resourcing of the department.

Source  :  www.smh.com.au
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WA’s only confirmed case of swine flu has been cleared after a week in quarantine, Ten News has reported, while the nation’s swine flu tally has passed 400.

The  man, who tested positive last week after going to hospital with mild flu symptoms, was in home quarantine with his wife and their eight children.

Australia’s Eastern States has been particularly hard-hit by the flu and Victoria has recorded a massive surge in cases, most of them children.
 
By this afternoon the number of confirmed cases in the State had risen to 306, a rise of 94 in 24 hours.

Most of the new cases in Victoria also involved young people aged five to 18, prompting a twelfth Victorian school to be closed today.
 
According to Federal Health Department figures, there were 64 confirmed cases in NSW, 18 in Queensland, six in South Australia, four in the ACT, and one each in Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
 
However, Queensland Health officials say the State now has 22 confirmed cases, the latest being teenage girls.
 
Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon said the Government was assessing whether to elevate the nation’s response to the disease from the contain to the sustain phase.
 
Victoria is already preparing to move into the sustain phase, under which quarantining is limited to those who share a home with a confirmed swine flu patient.
In the contain phase, anyone who has had contact with a swine flu patient is quarantined voluntarily and given antiviral drugs for a week.
 
The nation’s chief medical officer, Professor Jim Bishop, said the advice to people with flu-like symptoms may change as swine flu evolved.
 
At present, people who come down with flu-like symptoms, especially if they have recently travelled to an affected country, are being advised to seek medical advice.
 
Professor Bishop said in the future, fit and healthy people may be told to stay at home and only those in at-risk groups, including those with seek medical advice and asthma, will be advised to visit their GP.
 
“A lot of people that have these sorts of symptoms of course will, as this thing progresses, stay at home and not necessarily seek medical advice if in their own case it is a at-risk groups— and that we expect to see more of,” he said.
 
“As we move along in this marathon race, what we will need to do is obviously identify those people that we’re concerned about.
 
“If there is large numbers involved, we want to make sure the system is looking after people we most want to look after.”
 
The swine flu-affected ship Pacific Dawn docked in Sydney this morning after NSW Health authorities gave it the all-clear.
 

The P&O ship was forced to cut short its trip to the Barrier Reef last week when three crew tested positive for the virus.
 
A senior NSW Health doctor and 25 nurses boarded the ship in Brisbane on Saturday, testing all 2500 people on board during the two-day voyage to Sydney.
 
While disappointed the cruise didn’t go to plan, passengers said they still enjoyed the journey.
 
David Geers, from Brisbane, joked it was the perfect place to be quarantined for seven days.

 “If you had to be quarantined somewhere I couldn’t have thought of a better place … because we got fed, the drinks tasted the same and the staff were fantastic,” he told reporters at Darling Harbour.
 
More than 15,000 people in 53 countries have tested positive to swine flu, with deaths totalling 99.

Source www.thewest.com.au

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