Representing quality private education
providers in Australia

Report of exploitation of migrant and student workers

Monday, March 12 2018

Please see here the link to the report Wage Theft in Australia: Findings of the National Temporary Migrant Work Survey.
The comprehensive study explores wage theft and working conditions among international students, backpackers and other temporary migrants in Australia. The survey draws on responses from 4,322 temporary migrants across 107 nationalities of every region in the world, working in a range of jobs in all states and territories.

Key findings include:

  • Almost a third (30%) of international students and backpackers earned $12 per hour or less. This is about half the minimum wage for a casual employee in many of the jobs in which temporary migrants work.
  • Underpayment was widespread across numerous industries but was especially common in food services, and especially severe in fruit and vegetable picking
  • Severe underpayment was experienced by every major nationality of backpackers and international students in this country - at least one in five Americans, British, Indians, Brazilians, and Chinese earned roughly half the minimum wage.
  • At least three quarters of underpaid international students and backpackers know that they’re being paid less than the minimum wage. One reason they stay in these jobs paying illegally low wages is that the overwhelming majority believe that everyone else on their visa is earning less than the minimum wage too.
  • A substantial number also work in conditions that could amount to criminal forced labour, including being required to pay cash back to their employer after receiving their wages, having their passport confiscated by their employer, or paying an upfront 'deposit' for their job

You are invited to consider ways to raise awareness amonguyour internaitonal students to ensure they areaware of their work rights and are well prepared to avoid such exploitation.


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