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The must-visit Australian city that comes to life in spring

Canberra might be the best spring weekend destination in Australia. Just three hours’ drive from Sydney and with blossoming weather, it offers so many experiences for so many tastes, ages and budgets. Whether you love food and wine, music, art or the great outdoors, it’s all on offer. Canberra not only suits travelling families, couples, friends and soloists, but each spring it offers one spectacular event that encapsulates the lot. Floriade, the capital’s world-famous, and Australia’s biggest celebration of spring is the one that has it all. Kicking off from Saturday 14 September, the festival runs for 30 full days and wraps up with Dogs’ Day Out on Sunday 13 October.

Here are six ways to find your personal Floriade and have the best spring getaway ever.

Floriade’s undeniable centrepiece is flora, glorious flora. You won’t see such an abundance of blooms and flowerbeds mixed with live entertainment and great food anywhere else this side of the Chelsea Flower Show.

For Sydneysiders, Floriade is a lot closer than that English extravaganza but for garden lovers especially, it’s no less spectacular. You can soak up inspiration for a spectacular spring garden at home by strolling the seemingly endless displays. But the best way to really experience the beauty and extract tips and tricks from the experts is to book in for a Floriade Garden Walking Tour. You get to explore the festival’s flowerbeds with a member of the official gardening team, who’ll share their knowledge on what it takes to produce the displays to what types of flowers are used. Questions are most welcome so come prepared.

There’s one on every morning of the Floriade festival. Bookings are essential.

Photo: VisitCanberra
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Govt. Updates

Visa rules relaxed as more occupations added to Australia’s skilled occupation lists

Australia has announced some major changes to its immigration system, including eligible occupations for permanent and temporary immigration.

The changes to the occupation lists have been made following consultation with the Department of Jobs and Small Business based on the labour market advice provided by the department.

In the latest update, 36 new occupations have been added to the Medium and Long-Term Skill List, including professional footballers and tennis coaches.

“The Government continues to focus the Migration Program on addressing skills gaps in the economy and these initiatives demonstrate that commitment,” Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, David Coleman said.

The latest update to the Skilled Occupation Lists includes adding 18 new occupations to the Regional Occupation List.

The occupations include livestock, beef, dairy, sheep, aquaculture and crop farmers, among other agricultural roles.

The category of dentist and anaesthetist have also been added to the regional list to meet skill shortages.

Mr Coleman says farmers battling with drought and regional communities will benefit from the changes.

“We want Australians filling Australian jobs but when this isn’t possible action is needed to ensure farmers can continue to operate,” he said.

Visa News

Australian visas: What’s changed from 1st July 2019

Some of the most significant changes to Australia’s immigration system in recent years are going to take effect this year.

Immigration cap lowered
Following months of posturing on the issue of growing congestion in Sydney and Melbourne, the Federal Government announced in March this year that it will cut back Australia’s annual permanent immigration intake to 160,000. The intake has been capped at 190,000 since 2011 but the actual intake fell to just over 162,000 in 2017-18 for the first time in over a decade.

The impact of the overall cut will be absorbed by Skilled Independent visas that allowed people to live and work anywhere in Australia. The annual quota of this subclass has been slashed from over 43,000 to nearly 18,000 – a move that has temporary residents in Australia worried that it might force a prolonged temporary residency period on them.

The government said the cap will be maintained for the next four years.

New regional visas
The government also announced an increase in the number of visa places for regional Australia with 23,000 skilled visas being reserved for those willing to live and work in the regions.

The two new provisional regional visas to be introduced in November this year – Skilled Employer Sponsored Visa and Skilled Work Regional Visa will have 9,000 and 14,000 places respectively within the annual immigration cap of 160,000.

Visa holders of these subclasses will be required to spend at least three years in regional areas in order to become eligible to apply for permanent residency, instead of two years. A new regional permanent visa will be introduced in 2022.

International students will be able to access an additional year of post-study visa if they study in an educational institute in the regions, outside of Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and southeast Queensland.

Extra points for skilled migration
Visa applicants sponsored or nominated for these regional visas will have the benefit of five extra points towards their points test.

The government has also announced an additional 10 points for applicants with a skilled spouse and for those without a spouse. There are extra points for qualifications in STEM subjects as well.

New parent visa
The new Temporary Sponsored Parent visa applications are being accepted from 1 July 2019. The visa – first promised ahead of the 2016 federal election – is being made available this year after the legislation it was tied to passed through the federal parliament in October last year.

Parent visa, Indian family, Parent visa to Australia Supplied
The new visa is linked to a sponsorship framework under which Australian citizen or permanent residents have to first apply to become approved sponsors. Once they are approved as sponsors, their parents will be able to apply for the visa that will allow them to stay in Australia for a continuous period of up to five years with a single opportunity for renewal. The total number of visas issued is capped at 15,000 per year.

Citizenship changes abandoned
According to media reports, the Federal Government has abandoned the legislation that would have made migrants to wait longer and prove they have competent English proficiency before they could apply for Australian citizenship.

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