How AFNAI is trying to redefine Australia’s immigration landscape

By Indira Laisram
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Zoltan Varszeghy // Pic supplied

When it comes to immigration and the nuances of tribal adoption in Australia, few people are better placed to shed light on the subject than Zoltan Varszeghy. As the legal advisor and chief governor general of a First Nations/Indigenous Tribe, Zoltan is a key player reshaping the perspectives around community and nationality.

Zoltan’s journey began when he was adopted by the tribe several years ago, a role that allowed him to represent their community in legal matters and international human rights cases.

A personal connection led him to create this business along with co-creator—Charlotte May just eight weeks ago— his friend John has been held in an Immigration Detention Centre for almost four years, despite having lived in Australia for 60 years and representing the nation in international sporting events.

The legal labyrinth surrounding John’s deportation efforts consumed over $200,000 of his resources and ultimately failed. That was all before he became an adoptee. Zoltan, then hatched an innovative solution: what if a First Nations Tribal adoption could prevent John’s deportation? After all, as per a High Court of Australia decision, First Nations people can’t be deported.

This move symbolises the team’s ultimate goal—to enact permanent changes in the Australian Immigration system and to the testing for Aboriginality, which currently seems almost impossible for 3rd generational First Nations people to meet.

However, don’t be mistaken; Zoltan’s vision isn’t solely anchored in legal provisions. At its core, it revolves around providing people a second chance, especially those who can’t meet the stringent criteria set by immigration policies. For instance, his tribe is creating pathways for Indians, valuing the family-oriented culture and offering opportunities to contribute as community members in Australia.

Charlotte underlines the importance of compassion through real-life examples. She shared the story of a First Nations woman, a child of the “Stolen Generation”, who was ripped away from her family and culture. The woman’s account impacted Charlotte profoundly and continues to serve as a driving force in her mission. She hopes that tribal adoptions could serve as a catalyst for social and legislative change, ensuring that such injustices are relegated to the annals of history.

When questioned about the legal responsibilities and obligations for sponsors under Australian migration laws, Charlotte was a bit mystified by the question’s scope. Nonetheless, she acknowledges that Australia’s immigration laws are in a constant state of flux, citing proposed changes concerning New Zealand citizens as an example.

As for tribal adoption impacting his life, Zoltan, holder of two Australian law degrees, feels that the impact is less from the adoption itself and more from his association with First Nations people. His interaction with the community has enriched his life, illuminating the negative impacts of government programmes on them.

In terms of opportunities for businesses, Charlotte sees immense potential. This young business, still in its nascent stages, symbolises hope for people wanting to migrate to Australia for entrepreneurial endeavours. While it’s too early to quantify the outcomes, she sees only positivity looming on the horizon.

AFNAI’s story is a vivid reminder of the powerful blend of empathy and innovation. With legal acumen and the deep understanding of the socio-political landscapes, they stand as a testament to the kind of change that is possible when the human element isn’t lost in the labyrinth of law.

Zoltan Varszeghy // Pic supplied

In conversation with Zoltan Varszeghy

Can you share your personal journey as an adoptee in Australia?

I was adopted by the tribe several years ago, which allowed me to serve as their Legal Advisor and Chief Governor General. My business started eight weeks ago when I learned that my friend John had been unjustly detained in an Immigration Detention Centre for almost four years.

What challenges did you face during this process, and how did you overcome them?

The business is new, so it’s too early to talk about challenges. However, we initiated it in response to the challenge my friend John faced, who had lived in Australia for 60 years and still faced deportation. We spent over $200,000 in legal fees, unsuccessfully appealing his deportation.

How has your experience shaped your understanding of Australian migration policies?

The experience has made it clear that the immigration system in Australia needs changes. Our goal is to make permanent changes to the system, particularly concerning the test for Aboriginality, which many cannot currently meet.

Can you highlight any significant moments from your experiences?

One significant moment that sticks in my mind is a case involving a First Nations woman, a child of the “Stolen Generation.” Her story has impacted how I view these practices and their harm on families.

Are there opportunities for businesses to collaborate with individuals involved in tribal adoptions or sponsorship?

Absolutely. For those looking to come to Australia to start a business, I see huge potential in becoming adoptees.

Have you witnessed any positive outcomes or challenges related to these initiatives in your business or industry?

Since our business is still in its infancy, it’s too early to quantify the outcomes. However, we are optimistic about the positive impact we can have.


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