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HAWKE: Immigration (Education) (Standards for Vocational English) Instrument (LIN 21/012) 2021

Overview of the Disallowable Legislative Instrument

The Immigration (Education) Act 1971 (the Act) provides for publicly-funded tuition in approved English courses to eligible migrants. This is delivered through the Australian Government Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP). 

The purpose of this Disallowable Legislative Instrument is to repeal and replace the Immigration (Education) (Functional English) Specification 2017 (F2017L00720) to align with amendments made to the Act by the Immigration (Education) Amendment (Expanding Access to English Tuition) Act 2020 (the Amendment Act) to encourage the acquisition of a higher level of English proficiency. 

The Amendment Act relevantly changed the eligibility requirements for a person to be eligible for an approved English course. Prior to amendments, the eligibility requirements in subsection 4A(b) of the Act meant a migrant became ineligible for tuition under the Act once they reach the level of ‘functional English’. This is lower than the level of English required by most employers, and for enrolment in TAFE courses. 

Under section 4 of the Act, as amended by the Amendment Act, to be eligible for a course, the person must not have ‘vocational English’. A new definition of ‘vocational English’ in subsection 3(1) of the Act provides that the Minister may specify the standards and procedures for determining whether or not a person has ‘vocational English’. This Disallowable Legislative Instrument specifies the standards that a provider of an approved English language course must use to determine whether an eligible migrant or humanitarian entrant in Australia has ‘vocational English’ for the purposes of AMEP eligibility. 

An approved English course provider can determine that a person has ‘vocational English’, and is ineligible for the AMEP, if the person meets or exceeds one of the standards included in the instrument. The standard is set as Level 3 in the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) or the minimum score in one of the five international language tests specified in the instrument. 

This instrument therefore supports, and is consequential to, the amendments to eligibility made by the Amending Act. 

Amendment of the eligibility level means migrants will be able to stay in the program for longer, and reach a higher level of proficiency. It also means those who are currently ineligible because they have functional English will be able to enter (or re-enter) the program to raise their English proficiency.

Source: LIN21012.pdf and LIN21012-explanatory-statement.pdf

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