Closing remarks by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
at the Third Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora
27 February 2015
The Honourable Imelda Nicolas, Chairperson of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas
The Honourable Benito Bengzon Jr, Undersecretary for Tourism Development
Fellow members of the Diplomatic Corps
Representatives of Filipino diaspora councils
Ladies and gentlemen
Magandang hapon sa inyong lahat.
It is an absolute pleasure to be at this Summit to hear how the Commission on Filipinos Overseas represents the rights and interests of Filipinos working and living around the world.
The Filipino diaspora makes incredible economic, academic and social contributions to the countries in which they reside and, as we know, they make significant contributions to the Philippine economy
• This is testament to the work ethic and talent of overseas Filipinos
• And highlights the ongoing relevance of organisations such as the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.
I would like to acknowledge the delegates from the Filipino Australian community
• And focus for a moment on the long history of bilateral cooperation – and dare I say affection – between Australia and the Philippines.
The relationship between the Philippines and Australia continues to strengthen in areas of mutual benefit, such as:
• trade and investment
• in defence and development cooperation
• in regional and security cooperation, and
• by increasing people-to-people links through education, family and skilled migration.
I would like to focus in particular on these people-to-people links, and how Australia’s immigration programs support these links.
Australia's Migration Program includes a family stream that provides for the migration of close family members such as partners and children
• In the 1980s, Filipino migration mostly comprised women coming to Australia through the Family Migration Program.
The skill stream of Australia's Migration Program is specifically designed for migrants who have skills that will contribute to the Australian economy, either on a temporary or a permanent basis
• Since 2004, the majority of Filipino migrants have come to Australia through the Skilled Migration Program:
o temporary skilled workers from the Philippines, including nurses, structural steel and welding trades workers, and motor trades workers.
This long history and clear affinity between our peoples has created a significant Filipino population in Australia
• Philippine-born migrants now make up the fifth largest group of overseas-born residents in Australia.
And there are no signs this will stop anytime soon
• In 2014, the Philippines was the fourth largest source country of migrants to Australia
Furthermore, there is continued growth in numbers of students and visitors to Australia
• In 2014, the Philippines moved into the top ten source countries of students who chose Australia as their preferred education destination.
The Commission on Filipinos Overseas has a challenging task in promoting the rights and interests of global Filipino diaspora.
I hope that the Commission is reassured that the Australian Government takes very seriously the importance of ensuring the rights of all workers – regardless of citizenship – are adequately protected.
All workers employed in Australia are entitled to a safety net of minimum terms and conditions in the workplace
• This is a requirement of the Fair Work Act 2009, which applies to all workers in Australia
• It protects workers against unfair dismissal and discrimination and ensures that the work environment is safe and healthy.
Moreover, employers are required to provide all employees from overseas the same terms and conditions as Australian workers performing the same work in the same work location.
The Australian Government also recognises the importance of maintaining a cohesive society in which all residents, regardless of their cultural, racial or religious background, respect one another and seeks to ensure there are equal opportunities for people to participate in all aspects of society.
I thank you for the vision and insights you have shown, and your valuable work over the past two days in developing your regional action plan for progressing the rights and interests of Filipinos living and working overseas.
Maraming salamat po.