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Australia to hold 'Skill Expo' in India next year

July 22, 2009 18:59 IST
Saying that Australia welcomes and encourages Indian people as migrants, tourists and as students, Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Senator Chris Evans on Wednesday announced a 'Skill Expo' in India next year.

In an address titled "Australia and India: A people-based Partnership" at Observer Research Foundation, a public policy think tank in New Delhi on Wednesday, the minister said the Expo would inform prospective migrants about the employment and lifestyle opportunities available in Australia.

The minister also said both India and Australia have agreed that the Joint Working Group on visas, passports and consular matters will meet for the first time in next month.

Saying Australia valued its relationship with India and continued to build strong links for its strategic partnership, the Minister said Australia has taken many steps to check the attacks on Indian students which he described as 'crimes.'

"I have been struck by the real and deep concern about the safety of your students in Australia. The Australian government is absolutely committed to supporting students to have a positive and fulfilling educational, social and cultural experience in Australia," he said.

Admitting that the attacks on Indian students have dented the image of Australia, the minister said Australia takes very seriously their reputation as a safe destination for international students seeking high quality education.

"The Australian government recognises that student safety and possibility of racially targeted attacks are issues of very serious concern in our country," the minister said, adding "this situation cannot continue." He said the government has taken many measures to deal with this situation.

He said, in relation to the six assaults and robbery that occurred between March and the middle of June this year in Melbourne, the Victorian police have arrested 11 males who are now facing trial. The minister said the trials would begin this month, and the adults convicted of assault face sentence of 2 to 25 years.

Saying that there are now nearly 2,50,000 people of Indian origin in Australia making it one of the largest diasporas, the minister said he himself idolised the Indian cricket legend Bishan Singh Bedi "although my bowling was not of the same standard."

"My 13-year-old wicketkeeper son is a Dhoni fan, but he will never replace his love of Adam Gilchrest," he said.

The minister said India is currently Australia's 11th largest inbound tourism market with 1,16,000 arrivals in 2008,  which is a remarkable 22 per cent up from the previous year. Asked whether the attacks on Indians would affect the tourism graph this year, the minister said it is too early to assess this.