August 3, 2016

Should We Send Immigration Officers Back to School?

Posted by Mario Bellissimo - Bellissimo Law Group PC

Canada has gone down under to Australia over the past decade for many innovative immigration reforms.  Australia sent its immigration officers back to school, should Canada?  The College of Immigration was opened by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) on 3 July 2006.[1] The college was a $57 million investment over five years.[2] The development of the college was based on the nature of government agencies partnering with educational institutions.[3]  The opening of the college highlighted a new approach to training with improved quality and standard based training that had been run previously[4] and focused on developing individuals for key roles.[5] The plan for the college was to incorporate college-based learning and supervised workplace learning.[6] The college training programs were designed to address deficiencies in staff training and support.[7]

The program development, for example, focused a course for compliance field officers. This area, as well as detention services, had been identified as needing cultural change and skill development in order to change behaviour and supervision practices when dealing with clients.[8] Another goal of the college was to improve the performance of senior and middle managers.[9]

Also, at the time, plans were afoot to include cultural awareness training “culture, language and ethnicity as well as the responsibilities of compliance officers when engaging with clients of diverse backgrounds.”[10] A positive outcome of the college and bringing regionally based staff together for training had been interstate cooperation and coordination to the extent that two department state offices could run joint operations.  It appears the initiative was a success and they now have a graduate development program:

We are an innovative, high-profile global agency responsible for protecting Australia’s border, and managing the movement of people and goods across it.  The work we do supports the Australian Government to achieve:

  • strong national security
  • a strong economy
  • a prosperous and cohesive society.

 Following the integration of the former Department of Immigration and Citizenship with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, the new department has an expanded policy, service delivery and law enforcement role, which brings with it a unique opportunity to join an organisation that touches almost every part of Australian life.

The Graduate Development Programme is a 10 month programme designed to provide graduates with a range of work experiences within the Department.

Following selection and commencement with the Department, Graduates receive ongoing support from orientation and induction programmes to ongoing Learning and Development opportunities.[11]

This is an innovative idea that appears not only to enhance training for Australian officers but offer a fuller and richer experience and an in depth understanding across various agencies of the entire immigration and enforcement scheme.

In Canada, there are now officers that have worked exclusively for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) or the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC, unlike the experience up to the mid to late 2000s before the CBSA had solidified its operations where many officers performed shared roles. It would be interesting to further learn about IRCC and CBSA training and the potential benefit of a “Canadian” College of Immigration.