AAERI was established in 1996 as an initiative of the AEI. Today it is an independent society with a vibrant constitution and active membership base. Several associations took birth in other countries but almost all of them failed while AAERI maintained its democratic setup. This is the reason why it is so respected as an agent body and considered a valid stakeholder in the process.
I am so pleased that AAERI elections that are currently ongoing has active interest of its members and there are several new-bloods contesting. This is a good sign. I would hope that this would accelerate further.
I am also pleased that all are contesting in good spirit and are following the norms. However what concerns me is that several of the contestants don’t understand the limits for an association and the limits of what a voluntary body of competitors can deliver. I am contesting too and am not doing a mail-out to any of the members on my achievements as I feel that the profile that is uploaded on the internet (www.aaeri.org) is more than sufficient.
Allow me to break some of the myths that are being promised by some of the contestants… Either they are not aware of the limitations of AAERI or its positions or simply want to win the elections selling unreachable dreams. Members must know…
- No executive elected can get any member or group of members any institution agreements. Institution agreements are solely based on the institution’s rapport with the agency and often they may have their own criteria. AAERI has been telling institutions that it should work only with AAERI members since the members have committed to a code of conduct and schedule of fees. Further all the members have been vetted by a third party integrity check and have a staff member at-least who has cleared the EATC certification. Many of the institutions do want their agents to be members of AAERI. This by itself is a major achievement. I believe that over a period of time only active and quality members will remain in AAERI and so the membership will be a huge selling point.
- No executive elected can demand the same privileges from DIAC for all or any members. I would like to point out that post the eVisa audit several members lost their eVisa access and this included several of the executives. This may only be because of lower volumes to Australia during the downturn. Hence to even vote for an executive because he or she can get you some special rights from DIAC is clear fantasy. DIAC knows the track record of each and every agency in India and this is where you need to establish your own records.
- No executive elected can ensure that the AAERI Austrade fair will happen in their own region. AAERI fair is organised based on institution feedbacks. AAERI does put out a venue for each of the location and then based on the interest and some other factors is a location finalised. AAERI fairs for 2013 is already deputed to a committee that includes several regional members.
- No executive elected can increase membersip per-se and to say that the interested in AAERI has waned is totally out of context. Australia went into a recession in our industry between 2009 and till recent times and even during this period the renewals would have been to the same level or higher. The total number of members crossed 150 two years ago and this was during the low period as there were members who were still hanging on in hope for the industry to pick up. AAERI disciplinary committee too has been very active and it terminated the memberships of several members during the period where there was sufficient reasons to do so and this helped in increasing the respect for membership. Some members were suspended and were reinstated on redressal of the issue. However at the same time, the General Body of the members passed several new guidelines for its membership which included 1)all members must clear a third party integrity check, 2)must possess EATC and 3) must have an agreement with an University or a TAFE. These were all done with a purpose and this was the reason for the membership reducing to about 100 currently. This is all as per expected plan and is not a shock to anyone at all. At the last year AGM too it was realised and documented that the membership is to fall and several cost cutting measures were introduced which will have an effect in 2013-2015 which includes reducing the total executives from 12 to 10 and reducing the number of meetings to 3 and also the proposal to increase the membership fees marginally.
- No executive unopposed from a region should be seen to have been elected simply because there is no interest. The fact is that in several regions, local meetings are held and the candidate is proposed though a general consensus since the region doesnot want to be seen divided. I am aware that the Gujarat region is one such example.
I would encourage all members to vote by their own conscience and for the betterment of AAERI only. There is a need for a mix of new-blood for the future and there is a need for experience too for continuity and this has always happened. At each of the elections, there are new members joining often through the regions and then they later come into the central pool after having proven themselves in their regions. This is happening this year too.
May the best be elected to serve AAERI. I and several others have worked tirelessly to ensure that it stands out as an institution and would like that to continue.
This message is to all the AAERI members who may be subscribers to my thoughts through my blog.