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Reference group minutes

 

Date: Thursday, 15 August 2013, 10:15am – 3:15pm
Place: Immigration Advisers Authority, 52 Symonds St, Auckland
Attendees: IAA – Catherine Albiston (Chair – Acting Registrar of Immigration Advisers), Jason Chand (Team Leader, Licensing Assessment), Maheesha Kottegoda (Relationship Adviser), Zoe Gilmore (Secretariat)

INZ – Louise Cryer (Immigration Manager, Henderson)

Consumer Representative - Lucy Liang (Office of Ethnic Affairs – National Operations Manager)

Licensed Immigration Advisers
– Mike Bell, Sanjay Dhar (via teleconference), Kim Ang Gibbs (NZAIP), June Ranson (NZAMI), Vanessa Sharratt, Kristy Verster, Maricel Weischede
Apologies: Barry Smedts (Registrar of Immigration Advisers), Jennifer Wheeler (Team Leader, Support), Melissa England (Team Leader, Investigations), Wayne Levick (INZ, Area Manager, Henderson), Tufui Kama (licensed adviser)

Agenda

  1. Authority update
  2. Feedback and questions on Toolkits, the 2014 code of conduct and the Professional Standards hand-out for clients
  3. Brainstorm scenarios that should be covered in code training
  4. How can we better communicate with you and how can we better communicate with your clients / consumers?
  5. The Authority’s CPD role – your thoughts and ideas
  6. Open discussion

Discussion

  1. Authority update
    1. Catherine Albiston welcomed everyone to the second reference group meeting of 2013 and tendered Barry Smedts’ apologies. Catherine was Acting Registrar in Barry’s absence.
    2. Everyone reintroduced themselves to the group.
    3. Catherine gave an update on the Authority as at the end of the 2012/13 financial year.
    4. Catherine then gave an update on the present operations of the Authority:
      1. Complaints - 39 complaints in progress
      2. Offences - Currently there are five defendants before the courts; 32 offences work in progress; Outstanding issues – now 71
      3. Graduates
        1. From December 2012 there were 43 graduates; 7 licensed at time of graduation; 29 licensed following qualification  
        2. 61 students graduated in June 2013; four of which are currently licensed.
    5. There was some discussion regarding the Authority’s complaints process, referring complaints to the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal, resourcing of the Authority and the Tribunal and the time it takes for a decision to be made on a complaint followed.
  2. Feedback and questions on Toolkits, the 2014 code of conduct and the Professional Standards hand-out for clients
    1. The draft Ethics Toolkit and Code of Conduct Toolkit had been provided to the reference group for comment. The Authority’s aim is to provide guidance on the new code of conduct. These toolkits will also be used as the basis of E-Agent’s training on the new code of conduct.
    2. Catherine asked if the Toolkits were helpful. The response was that they were a useful starting point for advisers to work from. There was concern that they would be useful for new entrants but may be too detailed for experienced advisers.
    3. The reference group worked through the Code of Conduct Toolkit and provided feedback on areas that required alteration or more or less detail – the Authority recorded any changes suggested and these will be considered when finalising the Toolkits. Particular areas of the Code of Conduct Toolkit that were discussed were:
      1. Advising the client when eligible for legal aid
      2. Confidentiality
      3. Working within limits of knowledge and skills
      4. Supervision
      5. Written agreements
      6. Setting fair and reasonable fees – also discussed people’s views of the adviser fees being published on the website – most members supported them being on the website
      7. Client account requirements and accounting management
      8. How the Authority reports Tribunal decisions.
    4. The draft of the Professional Standards leaflet that will form the “summary of licensed immigration advisers’ professional responsibilities, as published by the Registrar” under clause 17 of the new code of conduct received positive feedback.
  3. Brainstorm scenarios that should be covered in code training
    1. Areas where scenarios could be particularly useful were highlighted as the reference group worked through the Code of Conduct Toolkit.
  4. How can we better communicate with you and how can we better communicate with your clients / consumers?
    1. Maheesha Kottegoda, Relationship Adviser, advised that the Authority currently communicates with advisers through emails, newsletters, the reference group, professional body meetings, the Authority’s website and by letter.
    2. Other ways of communicating that the reference group thought the Authority could consider were an Adviser Only Access area of the website (this is in the Authority’s work plan) and a static Facebook page with links to Tribunal decisions and press releases.
    3. It was suggested that particularly important messages that everyone should read be communicated by way of a separate email rather than the newsletter.
    4. Advisers receive several newsletters, not just the Authority’s. There was therefore a view that the Authority does not need to fulfil functions outside of its jurisdiction through its newsletter. Articles about ethical issues, mental wellbeing, INZ policy changes etc. are coming from other sources so the Authority can focus on providing information about Tribunal decisions etc.
    5. However, the reference group did feel that the Authority’s newsletter does need more “good news” stories. The Authority advised that it can be difficult to do this without singling out advisers. Ideas that were discussed were:
      1. Looking at dismissed Tribunal cases where the actions of the adviser resulted in the dismissal
      2. Advisers letting the Authority know if they come across a particular business practice that they think would be helpful to share with others – the Authority can then share this without mentioning an individual.
    6. The Authority is currently working on making the monthly newsletter mobile phone compatible.
    7. Ways that the Authority could better communicate with consumers of immigration advice were discussed. Currently the Authority puts out press releases, gives community presentations and is planning advertorials promoting the use of licensed advisers. Suggestions from the reference group were:
      1. Short animated films available on YouTube
      2. Having a presence on television channels such as Tagata Pasifika.
  5. The Authority’s CPD role – your thoughts and ideas
    1. The Immigration Advisers Competency Standards 2013 require advisers to complete 20 hours of relevant continuing professional development (CPD) per year. As long as an adviser can relate the CPD to a competency standard or the code of conduct then it is up to the adviser how they fulfil their CPD requirements.
    2. Other regulators have slightly different requirements. For example, the New Zealand Real Estate Agents Authority requires 20 hours, but 10 hours are made up of mandatory courses which change each year. The Australian Office of Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) approves all providers and activities. New Zealand lawyers’ CPD is based on reflective learning. It is important the Authority does not change its approach for change’s sake but that they carefully consider the options and may decide to retain the status quo.
    3. OMARA has a Practice Ready Programme which is mandatory in an Australian adviser’s first year of being licensed. It costs AU$3000.
    4. The Authority does not have a budget to deliver CPD.
    5. The reference group thought that encouraging other providers to provide CPD to advisers was a suitable role for the Authority. It can also go out and present at other places, or ask others to help with presenting their messages.
    6. As an offshore adviser in India, Sanjay Dhar attends INZ seminars in Dehli and Mumbai and reads for self-directed learning. Sanjay also noted that every time an adviser works on a new type of case they are carrying out self-directed learning as they research policies.
    7. The reference group suggested that the Authority could have a page on their website that suggests available courses, like a directory. This would just be a place that advisers could get ideas for courses – they would not be accredited or approved by the Authority, and they would not be the only options available. Another idea was for the Authority to provide guidance as to which competency standard(s) each of the listed courses would cover.
    8. The reference group indicated that there are definitely enough options currently available for them to be able to complete 20 hours of CPD per year.
  6. Open discussion
    1. There were some questions relating to unlicensed activity, prosecutions and wallet cards.

Meeting adjourned: 3:15pm
Next meeting: Thursday 7 November 2013