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Since inception four years ago, the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA), has grown from an unnecessary regulatory authority to an overfunded and out of date Australian Labor Party cost legacy that, some would argue, has a crystal clear self interest mandate, in protecting its high paying jobs located in the plush offices overlooking Sydney’s Hyde Park.

According to various sources, OMARA, rather than assisting registered agents or protecting consumers from unregistered practice continues to do the opposite.

Almost all Registered Migration Agents, including lawyers, are affected by the ongoing inefficiencies and incompetence at the OMARA and its culture of bureaucratic interference.

It appears OMARA has graduated with a qualification equivalent to buggery by constantly causing issues for qualified Registered Migration Agents where there is no legal basis for the issue. OMARA’s reliance upon the so often quoted ‘discretionary powers’, which even to a layperson, often fall outside the legal mandate, which is to deal with code of conduct related matters.

Even though as agents, we deal with OMARA often, we know little about how it's officers go about their work, or their level of competence. Well, its our turn.

In a matter of months, the internal workings of OMARA will be exposed. Such exposure is not likely to leave OMARA much enthused.  Regarding individual officers, their inquiries of agents are unlikely to meet the required level of competence but for a select few.  

Recent, examples of OMARA administrative nonsense include Carls’ issue in regard to disbursement of interest on clients' account.  Then there is the increasing of CPD hours for annual conference purposes without cause.  Then there is acting against its own legal advice by interpreting black letter law 'retainer contracts' as a 'fee service arrangement'.

Your Migration Litigation Community is now active with one focus – to assist you in standing up for your rights and give you cost effective tools to do so, including templates to challenge OMARA in the Federal Court and expose OMARA's incompetency with advanced FOI requests.

Please feel free to contribute.  Please also attend the 'Slash Red Tape Lunch' with Josh Frydenberg MP and Craig Laundy MP to push the MA agenda to stop red tape at the OMARA.

Next blog will feature “A Starters Guide to challenging anything and everything OMARA is asking of you”.

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  • Guest
    Dinko Donjerkovich Friday, 21 March 2014

    I am currently involved in a four year dispute with OMARA which is currently before the AAT . In the past four years Professional Standards has repeatedly placed obstacles at every in resolving this matter, failed to reply to emails for over 14 months , provided false information and failed to lift a suspension for two months in breach of an AAT order . I estimate legal fees in this matter for the respondent must be close to $30000. The complainant was granted a visa in 2009 .
    Ms Debra Radjenovic enjoys a massive salary and 10.00am starts . There needs to be an urgent profession led reform of the Professional Standards .

  • Guest
    Vince Friday, 21 March 2014

    Great article

  • Guest
    Ray B Friday, 21 March 2014

    Debra Radjenovic makes 'findings' based on no 'conclusive evidence'. She is getting away with it. We need lawyers in the OMARA. It is tyranny. They are the new animal farm.

  • Guest
    Dinko Donjerkovich Friday, 21 March 2014

    I understand Debra Radjenovic is ex NSW Police . Does anybody know if this is true ? I have FOI her qualifications & work experience last week . We need a qualified intelligent lawyer or professional as Director of Professional Standards .
    Ms Pettit Assistant Director, intentionally lied to me in May 2013 indicating on the phone as the complaint was two years old MARA could not proceed due to the delays from their side. She said if they did proceed it would be ' Draconian ' in her view . The complainant was granted a visa in early 2010
    At least $20000 has been spent on legal fees with DLA Piper pursuing me in the AAT . This firm acting for MARA firm refuses to answer my emails or answer my phone calls . My Email 23 / 9 / 13 is still not answered as they clock up massive fees
    ALL concerned members of the profession needs to write to the Minister and Senator Cash Ms Radjenovic and Pettit must be held accountable for the waste and massive salaries they take . WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH

  • Guest

    Dinko, Elizabeth Pettit used to work in the DIBP 'Investigations Branch' in Sydney. She is tall and with blonde hair. She is yet ANOTHER DIBP, DIAC, DIMA, DIMIA IMPORT! When will they employ competent people from outside the Department with some real skill and real life experience outside the cages of the Department? Seriously these people at MARA must realise we are all over them now like a rash. From now on it will be one exposure after another. My advice - FOI her qualifications! FOI her emails and comments. Drown the OMARA in FOI requests like everyone else is. Perhaps the DIBP will get the hint something is not working.

  • Guest
    Dinko Donjerkovich Friday, 21 March 2014

    we all need to work together to secure urgent reforms and staff replacement in Professional Standards . Ms Pettit lied to me , as a senior Public servant this is not acceptable .
    I have FOI invoices issued by DLA Piper to OMARA for running the AAT matter . I expect a figure of over £20000 . The profession is tired of incompetence , persecution and bias .
    We all need to write to the CEO of OMARA , The Minister and best of all Senator Cash . Senator Cash staff made a call to Ms Debra Radjenovic for failing to remove my suspended status on the OMARA website for over two months .Ms Radjenovic removed it in 5 minutes after receiving this call despite ignoring me for over 2 months and in being in breach of an AAT order.
    LETS all act now as a profession . The OMARA must be reformed immediately .

  • Guest
    Ivan Friday, 21 March 2014

    Dinko didn't you notice the quick removal of Maureen Horder from the MIA as soon as the new goevrnment was elected? Didn't you notice Stephen Wood was moved on from his post at OMARA and put out to pasture in some public servant 'whatever' position in Canberra near his left-wing socialist scum-bag Labor party mates? They were all in it up to their eyeballs. Maureen agreed to it because she wanted the redundancy payment from the job she had literally just started at when MIA was in control of the MARA. Dinko, the Office of the MARA is full of Labor party operatives left over from the various corrupt ministers from the previous Labor government. Chris Bowen to name one. Chris Bowen with a Advisor Tara Brumby (complete with leg tattoo) created a Labor party regulation division within the DIBP to shut down, stifle and gag agents. We were at odds with their union mates who only wanted protectionist policies implemented. Only Australian workers with white skin. Anyone on a 457 was banned. Look back at the blogs on here and see for yourself what Dave Noonan did and see for yourself what Tony Sheldon said about unscrupulous migration agents. Yes, the unions and the Labor party set up this stifling, red tape brigade aka as OMARA. Shame on them all. Shame on Debra Radjenovic. Shame on Stephen Wood the previous CEO who let lie apon lie build up. Let's hope this new CEO, Steve Ingram FIX THIS MESS

  • Guest
    Ailsa agent Friday, 21 March 2014

    OMARA are useless and pathetic. I am not sure why you are all so surprised. Let them get on with their pointless games so we can get on with reality. Leave OMARA alone lest someone wake the sleeping diseased giant and replace with something worse like the MIA. Gawd what awful corrupt days those were.

  • Guest
    Dinko Donjerkovich Friday, 21 March 2014

    As a profession we all need to and have an interest in reforming Professional Standards
    We must not let this opportunity pass with a new CEO appointed . The Migration Alliance and all its Members must express their complete lack of confidence in the current Director Ms Debra Radjenovic and Assistant Director Ms Elizabeth Pettit . If there is no radical overhaul of Professional Standards and its current Directors this ongoing crisis will linger and grow indefinitely .

  • Guest
    Faisal Raman Friday, 21 March 2014

    There are other agents in the pipeline too. I think Raymond Solaimon is appealing against his cancellation somewhere, Perhaps Federal Court or AAT. Can someone find him and ask him to tell us where his case is at?

  • Guest
    Andre B Saturday, 22 March 2014

    Looks like the agents are regulating the regulator. Well at least they are qualified in the area. From what I see, nobody at this OMARA has demonstrated competence in this industry. It's quite bizarre. To me it looks like OMARA was established as a way of getting money off agents. How very odd. Kurt this is a good article mate. Can you release your sequel soon? I am sure everyone including the press would like to see more of this.

  • Guest
    karin Saturday, 22 March 2014

    Great article! It seems you guys are on to something.

  • Guest
    jason cameron Saturday, 22 March 2014

    Along time ago I was chatting with someone senior at another organisation and asked why ordinary members aren't asked to be more involved in the content of submissions and solutions to problems. The answer was that it was tried and the responses were, (how can I say it politely), not helpful and often do more harm then good.

    From the above article and some of the comments, I can see what that other organisation was talking about.

    A guide to challenge OMARA about everything they are asking you ? What nonsense ! Is that seriously going to help anyone ?

    If we/MA/ or anyone for that matter are going to be relevant in the industry, I think we should be mindful of what we are publshing.

  • Guest
    Angus Saturday, 22 March 2014

    That's the beauty of living in 2014 - free speech and open market, information era where nobody is 'safe'. Just as you have your opinions published (I wonder why they got moderated in - perhaps the moderator is even-handed), so do others. Which 'other organisation' are you referring to? Can you not speak in riddles as then we all need to guess.
    Jason, can you let us know what you think a better solution might be? It appears from this thread and a lot of others, that other avenues have been exhausted. Your help would be appreciated.

  • Guest
    Maria D L RMA and proud MA member Saturday, 22 March 2014

    Oh get off your high horse Jason. Seriously dude you have gotta take a reality check. Do you think MA is not relevant? You reckon sponsors like NAB, BUPA, PWC, MACQUARIE and TAFE NSW Sydney INSTITUTE make MA not relevant? Then all the other sponsors and associated enterprises. MA is far more relevant than you obviously know. Are you aware of how politically relevant they are as well? Do you think you could just perhaps pull your head in and see them as an element of cutting edge social change, especially in online social engineering of this space? I have an idea....instead of you telling MA what they are not doing well, why don't you make some suggestions!! Now we all want to hear your bright ideas. C'mon Mr Know it all wise geek 2014. Tell the RMAs how they should be doing this.

  • Guest
    jason cameron Tuesday, 25 March 2014

    All you have to do is read the above comments and its quite obvious what I am saying. Some of the comments, not all, range from nonsense to offensive. So that's my opinion.

    How to be relevant ? Better question is how to make yourself irrelevant.

    As you would have experience in the administrative decision making process (OMARA being an administrative decisions maker itself) - the first rule is don't offend the decision maker or personally attack them. To me this is common sense.

    That does not mean you cant stand up for yourself or others and even be aggressive in your defence, but it should be done in a respectful and professional way.

    Second rule of administrative decision making, is that once you loose the respect of the decision maker, its going to be a long time before you ever get what you want.

    MA are an aggressive body, That's good - but there is a difference between aggressive and plain rude/inappropriate.

    Some members would have horror stories no doubt and its good to hear those stories.

  • Kurt Kraues
    Kurt Kraues Wednesday, 26 March 2014

    Jason, OMARA should be treated as equal and be subject to scrutiny just like RMAs. OMARA must conduct its investigations in a cost effective and fair manner. I believe most RMAs would agree, that OMARA does the opposite. Your comments are based on the presumption that there will be no legislative change to the OMARA, when in fact the function of this Labour Party cost legacy, is currently under review by the business friendly Liberal government.

  • Guest
    Max Wednesday, 26 March 2014

    Disgusting if true.

  • Guest
    Dinko Donjerkovich Wednesday, 26 March 2014

    for two months OMARA failed to update its website removing SUSPENDED status to CAUTION claiming ' technical difficulties' . I made three urgent requests for an update to OMARA .
    On 17 / 1 / 14 after one call to Senator Cash's office it was updated in 15 minutes .

  • Guest
    Agent GS Thursday, 27 March 2014

    Great article and great initiative! This is something long overdue!

    OMARA must be held accountable for all its actions and non-actions. It must be placed under closest scrutiny on how they spend the huge repeat registration fees they have collected from us year after year.

    @jason cameron

    Courtesy and respect, surely, must form an essential part of all our communications as a professional, be it with OMARA, DIBP, clients, or anyone else for that matter. But this is only a forum for heaven’s sake! We are having a discussion among ourselves, not direct or formal communication with any decision maker. Some comments may be heated but in my view that is because our concerns have been neglected and we have been left voiceless for too long!

    By the way, has OMARA shown the same level of respect towards RMAs?

    Apart from commenting on some comments, do you have any productive suggestions that can contribute to the discussion? Or do you think that OMARA is untouchable?

    Migration Alliance must be applauded for taking this first step, however small and imperfect it may be, in leading a battle against OMARA that is worth fighting for. Leadership on behalf of RMAs is something that has been seriously lacking in this industry, despite the other so-called peak professional body which has been in existence for who knows how many years!

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