Corporate culture and the liability of directors and officers in visa and related breaches

This article was originally published 9 September 2019.

With the significant complexity of Australia’s immigration laws and the ever expanded powers and reach of the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force as the operational enforcement arm, businesses recruiting overseas workers must ensure that they stay ahead of potential breaches of the law.

Managing Australia’s borders and the movement of people and goods has seen a significant and major shift in government policy focused on regulatory compliance and enforcement. Demonstrated by a heightening of security by the Department of Home Affairs’ whole of government approach, online processes and systems, analysis of metadata/data, and the sharing of information with national and international agencies and partnerships.

The Department of Home Affairs will, in certain circumstances, disclose personal and business information to other government agencies for the purposes of administering its functions and activities. This includes sharing information with the Australian Taxation office (as part of the data matching protocol), ASIC, Fair Work Ombudsman and other agencies.

The Department of Home Affairs continues to balance a visa framework which is responsive to Australia’s economic needs with an ongoing focus on operational enforcement, specialised border capability, intelligence, risk, compliance and enforcement.

With the significantly expanded authority and reach of the Department of Home Affairs, businesses need to have a sound understanding of the current and evolving law and policies how to mitigate risk.

Risk, governance and compliance is now a broader enterprise risk management system which should be embedded into the strategic, business planning, human resource and decision-making processes of the organisation as a whole.

This requires a review of the current operational risk management and regulatory compliance. The aim is to avoid breaches at a time of increased emphasis on the role that directors and boards must play in corporate culture and corporate governance.