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Bill Gates wouldn’t get a job in Australia because he has no local experience,’’ says Ailis Logan, the founder of Tribus Lingua, a consultancy assisting skilled migrants find jobs. Logan is only half joking.

She believes that Australian employers value local experience much more than their counterparts in Europe and the US.

For the many overseas professionals enticed here by the lure of a bountiful job market, the difficulty of finding a job without local experience is no joke.

What does “no local experience’’ really mean?

Are we so parochial that we’d reject Bill Gates if he sent us his resume?

Do we run our businesses in a uniquely Australian way?

Many of us will go overseas to work, valuing the career and life experience we bring back-yet we appear to view the experience that others bring here with suspicion.

Ian Little, the author of Project Australia: Land that Engineering Job in Australia, suggests our geographic isolation has contributed to our conservatism. As the senior engineering manager at engineering giant Worely Parsons, he’s hired many overseas professionals.

He believes that a lack of Australian experience is actually the biggest barrier any newcomer will face. Employers appear worried about the communication skills of skilled immigrants.

Poorly written resumes from overseas professionals may fuel employers’ doubts about immigrants’ communication skills. Little and Logan say they see many bad resumes from recent arrivals.

This makes it harder for employers to assess overseas experience.

Logan recommends that newcomers provide context around places they’ve worked, including the challenges and drivers of the businesses they’ve worked in. It can be difficult to read a resume in isolation of preconceived ideas about a nationality.

It would be naive to suggest that people never discriminate, but Little certainly doesn’t believe many Australians are inherently racist. When it comes to hiring he thinks Australian employers are just risk-averse.

“People will still encounter difficulties when they want to switch industries,’’ he says. “Employers don’t realise how tough times are, and they need to get flexible.’’

But even if everyone spoke English, misunderstandings about meanings can be common. Logan suggests our easy-going expressions can easily .

“Australians appear casual, but are not casual at all,’’ she says. “Come in for a chat’ can mean a formal interview, so you need to be prepared.’’

But perhaps there’s more going on than verbal confusion. Body language plays its part in defining meaning and each culture uses this differently.

Aparna Hebbani, an academic and researcher into intercultural communication in interviews at the University of Queensland says “non-verbals’’ such as a academic and researchercontribute to an estimated 66 per cent of meaning in social interaction.

She’s seen many cross-cultural misunderstandings in an interview. “If an Indian interviewee, for example, does not make ‘appropriate’ levels of eye contact with an Australian interviewer, they can interpret that as a lack confidence or not being truthful,’’ she says. “But the interviewee might not look into the interviewer’s eye out of respect.’’

The way different cultures see interviews may be detrimental to their chances of success. Little claims some have a “servant attitude’’ when it comes to marketing their skills.

“An employment contract is a two-way thing. I’ve not seen many overseas professionals who understand that,’’ he says. “They don’t understand that they have something to offer.’’

Confused communication aside, what are other risks in recruiting a newcomer? Logan and Little say that new arrivals need to understand Australian law, regulations and codes plus the general rules of Australian business practice. But Little suggests in engineering that employers’ perception that newcomers can’t adapt is greater than reality.

“Engineering is an applied science-the laws of science do not change,’’ he says.

In some professions the local learning curve is steeper and longer. Accounting is one example. David Smith, a former partner of accounting firm PKF and ex-president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, runs Smithink, a management consultancy advising accountants.

He sees the employers’ concern over communication skills of immigrants and their ability to understand the highly complex Australian tax system and superannuation laws as major barriers for accountants new to Australia.

Logan says overseas professionals need to understand that the structure of the Australian economy is “old-fashioned’’, with up to 70 per cent of businesses classified small-medium.

The accounting industry reflects this statistic. Smith suggests a typical small-business accounting firm will find it hard to embrace new arrivals who cannot hit the ground running.

Small firms struggle to verify skills, have limited resources for training and perhaps less patience for the newcomer under pressure.

There are other barriers that make it difficult for newcomers to find jobs. Smith and Little suggest that employers need to assess attitude when it comes to hiring overseas professionals, as this makes a big difference in how quickly people will adapt.

Little says employers’ rigid recruitment practices can prevent this. “Many employers are stuck in a 1980s way of thinking. In that decade there were lots of people to choose from and some fairly militant unionism. Employers found that if they didn’t select the right person [the union] would be likely to challenge. They needed a bullet-proof system.’’

She believes employers should build teams-instead of filling holes when they hire-matching weaknesses in skill sets with complementary strengths.

HR professionals would argue that recruitment processes have evolved. The larger firms often spend many thousands of dollars identifying what makes the company tick before writing it into recruitment practice, hoping to recruit candidates with the right attitude.

Yet the “right attitude’’ is nuanced, notoriously difficult to codify and assess from an appraisal of a resume and the more traditional interview.

Also keeping candidates at a distance are recruitment consultants and online resume screening software.

Many employers’ online careers pages do not have a contact name or number. It can be difficult for applicants to talk directly to someone with close knowledge of the core business who can give them a realistic appraisal of their fit.

Little sees many benefits for organisations willing to open their doors a little wider. While he has observed overseas engineers having a slower path to productivity than their Australian equivalents, he notes the longer term rewards of hiring them as a bonus.

“They are less likely to move on than an Australian hire and they have a great work ethic and less baggage from their background,’’ he says. “They bring new skills not available in Australia, and support our international operations with their knowledge and language skills.’’

Source : www.careerone.com.au

More Information  :  www.tribuslingua.com.au

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  • Last-minute tips to save on tax
  • What to claim, how to file
  • Plenty of help on ATO website

HAPPY New Year! Well, almost. With only 24 hours left until the end of financial year, what should you be doing today to ensure that you don’t end up with a big tax hangover tomorrow?

“Don’t forget to pay your expenses,” says Tracey Nicholson, the Assistant Commissioner of Taxation.

“Ensuring that expenses are paid and claimed in the correct tax year can save a lot of headaches in having tax returns amended down the track.”

Ms Nicholson suggests that some top-priority things for taxpayers to do prior to lodging their return include:

• Go surfing! The ATO website, that is.

“There is a wealth of information on the ATO website, both general as well as information that’s specific to various professions,” says Ms Nicholson. “It’s a great place to start your research on what you may be able to claim as a deduction.”

• Spring clean the house to find your receipts.

“At the end of the day you need to keep your receipts to substantiate your claims,” says Ms Nicholson.

• Lodge online.

If you are DIYing your tax, Ms Nicholson recommends the online e-tax process as a great way to complete your return.

“It’s free, and has a great step-by-step process that will help remind you of anything that you have forgotten,” she says.

It can be worth getting professional advice as well though. Bill Keays, founding director of WA-based Hales Keays Chartered Accountants says that in his experience there are a number of tax-related benefits that people sometimes overlook.

“Motor vehicle expenses are often overlooked,” he says.

“You can claim up to 5000 kilometres of work-related use based on a reasonable estimate of business kilometers, without needing to keep a log book. But some people think that if they haven’t kept a log book, they can’t claim.”

Another forgotten area, according to Mr Keays, is depreciation on a rental property.

“Sometimes clients are not aware of how much depreciation they can claim,” he says.

“For taxpayers who have a relatively modern rental property, engage a quantity surveyor to prepare a depreciation report. They will typically save you many times more than their fee due to the deductions they identify.”

But lest you get carried away with all the potential deductions out there, remember that you do need the paperwork to back it up.

“We conduct plenty of audits,”says Ms Nicholson.

“We’re going to have a special focus on truck drivers, sales and marketing managers, sales reps and electricians this year – but any taxpayer has the chance of being audited.”

And while it may be too late for this financial year, consider getting some professional advice for next year’s tax return because sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know.

“There’s usually always some way in which we can save clients extra money, either by identifying deductions or simply getting their tax structures right to start with,” says Mr Keays.

“The Small Business CGT concessions are a great example.

“One of my clients was expecting to pay capital gains tax of approximately $240,000 when he disposed of his business and he ended up paying nothing by applying these concessions.”

Your tax time checklist                                                                                                                                                                                           

To help you get the best tax return possible, here’s a few things to tick off your “to do” list today:

1. Are you eligible for the Superannuation Co-contribution? If so, it’s up to $1,500 of free money.

2. If you use your car for work, don’t forget to estimate your motor vehicle expenses.

3. A 20% tax offset is available for out of pocket medical expenses over $1500.

4. Donations of over $2 made to a deductible gift recipient are tax deductible.

5. The cost of having your tax return prepared is also an allowable deduction.

6. Income Protection insurance premiums can also be a tax deduction.

7. Small business owners who are selling business assets can take advantage of extremely generous “small business CGT concessions.”

8. You can claim up to $300 of work related expenses without the need to have written receipts. However once your claim exceeds $300 you must have receipts for the full amount.

9. Don’t forget all those miscellaneous work expenses such as union fees, seminars, trade journals, software and home office expenses. Even an appointment diary can be deductible.

10. Check the deductions fact sheet for your specific occupation to ensure that you are claiming everything that you are entitled to.

Source  :   www.news.com.au

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The Tax Office today reminded Australia’s 11.8 million taxpayers to start getting ready to lodge their tax returns.                                                                                                

Tax Commissioner Michael D’Ascenzo said the Tax Office has a range of information and assistance available to help people meet the 31 October 2009 deadline.

“From 1 July, people can prepare and lodge their return online using e-tax, which is free, secure and easy to use software which in most cases processes your return within 14 days.

“As well as calculators, help screens and links to rulings, you can also download information from third parties directly into your tax return, including payment summaries, government payments such as pensions and allowances, bank interest and private health insurance details.

E-tax can be accessed free of charge 24 hours a day, seven days a week from our website at www.ato.gov.au,” Mr D’Ascenzo said.

Government and third party information will be available to download progressively from 1 July. You can subscribe to an alert service within e-tax which will let you know when the information becomes available.                                                                                                                                                                                         ato

People can still lodge using TaxPack 2009 or the short tax return for individuals 2009.

TaxPack 2009 is available from most newsagents, Tax Office shopfronts or the Tax Office website from 1 July.

If you used the short tax return last year you’ll receive a copy in the mail shortly.

Mr D’Ascenzo also reminded people to contact their tax agent as soon as possible.

“If you’re using a tax agent for the first time or using a different one from last year you need to contact them by 31 October 2009,” he said.

“Only registered tax agents can charge a fee to prepare and lodge a tax return.

“However some people present themselves as tax agents when they are not.

“Registered tax agents are regulated by the Tax Agents’ Board and have the qualifications and experience to handle your tax affairs.”

Visit the Tax Agents’ Board website http://www.tabd.gov.au or call 1300 362 829 to check if your agent is registered.

Compliance focus

We cross-check tax returns against a wide range of data including financial institution data, state and territory revenue and property sales information and Australian stock exchange data.

Help and assistance

If people have questions or need assistance they should visit the Tax Office website www.ato.gov.au or phone the Tax Office on 13 28 61 between 8.00am and 6.00pm weekdays.

The Tax Office can provide you a more personalised service if you provide your tax file number when you call.

source  :  www.ato.gov.au

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The end of financial year can be a stressful time for small business owners, and that time is now upon us once again.  For those of you who are behind and not ‘in shape’ for the end of end of financial year financial year… don’t panic, right now there is still a very small window of time for you to get prepared for the end of financial year, but that time is ticking by.

How can you get in shape?

Before 30 June make it a priority to ensure all your bookkeeping and reconciliation is up-to-date, follow up payment of overdue invoices, pay outstanding bills and pay all super contributions (this should not only be for your employees, but for yourselves too). 

With all your reconciliation up-to-date, such as your receivables, payables, bank accounts and inventory, once 30 June is here you will only have one month to reconcile and you can then move on to completing your BAS.  Getting on top of this will ease some of the stress you may feel when preparing your end of financial year documentation.

For small business owners with employees, remember that you will also need to reconcile your payroll and send out payment summaries to your employees (before 14 July 2009).

Following the completion of all your reconciliation and BAS, it’s time to run your end of financial year reports.  Having all your records and reports prepared prior to visiting your accountant will really save you time and money. 

If you’re having difficulties with these tasks, speak to your accountant or bookkeeper, or alternatively a range of online resources, and even accounting software providers, have information on completing these activities.

If you’re having difficulties with these tasks, Don’t forget to backup all your data.  You will also need to keep copies of your accounting records for at least five years (an ATO requirement).

It is also important now to prepare for the 09/10 financial year, as no doubt you want everything to be ‘AOK with the ATO’.

A number of new Federal Government compliance changes will apply from 1 July 2009 and these will affect small businesses.  Information about the new compliance requirements is available from the ATO, or your accountant will also be able to update you on the changes.

If you use accounting/payroll software, you will need software updates that address the compliance changes.  Ensure you’re scheduled to receive the compliance update from your provider, so that you’re compliant for 09/10.

This time of year is also good to consider what improvements you could make to your work practices to stay in shape and make the 09/10 end of financial year less stressful.  For example, implement work practices that ensure you stay on top of your bookkeeping requirements, keep up-to-date with inventory, cash flow and debtors and follow task lists.

Yes, the economic downturn is having an impact on businesses and the pressure is really building, but this presents you with the opportunity to select your own course.

It’s important that you take a step back and look at the ‘big picture’.  Instead of only responding to daily issues, now is the time to develop and implement a sound business plan for overcoming future challenges.

Don’t be afraid to seek specialist advice.  Talk to your accountant.  They can not only help you with tax and accounting related matters, but they can also help you with your business planning, financial goal setting, cash flow and making sure your business is running at its best.

Remember… It’s important to be prepared!

Source  :  www.livenews.com.au

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One of WA’s largest educational institutions has moved its students into the digital age.

East Perth-based Central TAFE is about to roll out its first student e-mail service, after signing a deal with Microsoft.

The TAFE will offer its 15,000 students the software giant’s Live@Edu application, after trialling it with about 500 of them.

It follows a nine-month process which began when WA TAFE’s issued a tender for the supply of student e-mail services. Microsoft was awarded the tender last month.

Central TAFE managing director Neil Fernandes said Live@Edu would offer “connectivity and collaboration right across our campuses”.

Other WA TAFE’s – who have about 120,000 students between them – are watching Central’s pilot program. Live@Edu offers 10GB-capacity mailboxes and the potential to send and receive 20MB attachments.

Source  :  www.watoday.com.au

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The Education Tax Refund (ETR) is a new government initiative to help with the cost of educating primary and secondary school children. It means eligible parents,tax refund carers, legal guardians and independent students could get 50% back on some education expenses. This includes items like computers, educational software, textbooks and stationery.

Most people are eligible for the ETR because they receive Family Tax Benefit (FTB) Part A. However, there are some payments that prevent you from receiving FTB Part A, but which still entitle you to receive the refund. You can also claim the refund if you are an independent student.

You can claim the ETR each financial year for children in primary and/or secondary school, or if you are an independent student. You will be able to claim the refund from 1 July 2009 for the 2008/09 financial year. This means you can claim for items purchased from 1 July 2008. Remember to keep your receipts as they will help you calculate your entitlement and you may be required to produce them as proof of purchase.

You can claim the ETR even if you are not required to lodge a tax return.

For more information, see  http://www.educationtaxrefund.gov.au/about-the-ETR/

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A team of Google engineers from Australia has unveiled a prototype replacement for standard email that abandons the reliance on the chronological sorting and stacking of messages which has been the hallmark of one of the internet’s first and still most popular applications.

Christened Google Wave, the new feature was given its first public viewing in San Francisco earlier this morning Australian time at Google’s annual developers’ conference.

“I think you will see a form of interaction that you would not have previously imagined,” Google co-found Sergey Brin told a post-launch press conference.

Wave – which began life as a project codenamed Walkabout – is a combination of email and instant messaging and document-, maps- image- and video-sharing all housed under one roof.

Much like a conference call, it also allows for conversations between more than two people to happen simultaneous.

And because it all happens inside a web browser, there is no special software to download or plug-in – which means it can be used from any computer or internet-enabled mobile phone.

“Our communication space is very fragmented today. We have a million different tools for different things with lots of different kinds of overlaps,” said Lars Rassmussen, a senior software engineer with Google Australia

“The most natural way to try and solve that problem is to take all those different tools and try to make them smaller and fit into a single package and maybe integrate them across the boundaries.”

Wave is being released so that the developers – independent software creators – can help iron out the remaining bugs and cook-up a swag of new uses for the service and the platform upon which it is based ahead of a public release later this year.

But Wave is more than just another of Google’s ubiquitous free web services. It’s also a protocol – meaning that it is going after email’s mantle as the predominant internet communications tool.

And despite the recent growth of web-based email services like Hotmail and Gmail, most of the world’s email runs through Microsoft’s Outlook client.

And to encourage organisations to catch the Wave, Google is offering it up as an open source protocol, meaning that anyone – even a competitor – can box it up and host it on their servers.

Wave is the creation of Danish brothers Lars and Jens Rasmussen, who together with Australian Noel Gordon and Stephen Ma – founded and later sold what became known as Google Maps to Google for an undisclosed sum in 2005.

Lars has worked for Google and lived in Australia since the sale and enticed Jens to leave Google’s headquarters near join him in 2007.

The pair and the Wave team – who have been given the full backing of Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page – have been working on the project out of Google’s offices in Sydney.

Stephen Hutcheon is attending the San Francisco conference as a guest of Google.

Source: www.watoday.com.au

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