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Members of Parliament are urging the government to urgently address the widespread exploitation of temporary visa holders by banning employers who violate workplace laws, strengthening the powers of regulators, and better educating vulnerable immigrants about their legal rights.

A multiparty Senate committee that has been examining the impact of temporary immigration on the Australian economy, social cohesion and workplace rights has made 40 recommendations to reform the current system as part of a “comprehensive review” of the country’s visa system.

The committee just submitted its report in the Senate.

Senator Chairman of the Action Committee Raf will beFor the past 18 months, he said, the committee has heard that “a broken system is failing to deliver to those who need it.”

“Over the past two years, we’ve heard about temporary visa worker exploitation, wage theft, physical assault, and sexual harassment,” Ciccone said.

“We have heard of visa assessment times spanning not just months, but years. From a systematic lack of communication from the Ministry of Home Affairs with visa applicants.”

Committee Chairman Raf Ciccone.

Committee Chairman Raf Ciccone. Photo: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Given continuing concerns about the exploitation of temporary workers, the commission suggests that visa holders be better informed of their rights in the workplace to ensure they have a “comprehensive understanding” of these rights.

“The Commission recommends that the Australian Government develop a comprehensive workers rights education scheme to ensure that temporary visa holders receive information about their rights to work in appropriate language and form,” the report says.

It highlights concern in particular about the risk women face on temporary visas, and recommends expanding language and cultural support to migrant workers with temporary visas and “readily available information on immigration and family law in plain English and a variety.” of languages. “

It recommends that unions be allowed to conduct audits and vetting companies suspected of exploiting workers or the payroll of potentially affected workers, and suggests more funding and a reorganization of the Fair Labor Ombudsman.

This would give it “greater ability to investigate violations of Australian Industrial Relations laws” in partnership with registered organizations and prosecute violators.

Employers found to have violated workplace laws when hiring vulnerable temporary visa holders should also be prevented from hiring more workers through the program.

The commission found that the “artificially low” income threshold that applies to temporary workers undermines the attractiveness of hiring Australians to temporary visa workers, and recommends that it be increased, and thus indexed. It has been frozen since 2013 when it was frozen coalition problem government.

Employees employed by labor-recruiting firms – a common practice in the industry – must also be subject to the same wages and conditions as other employees at the locations in which they work.

To try to facilitate lawsuits against unscrupulous employers, the panel suggests creating a “formal and legally binding firewall” between the Fair Work Ombudsman and the Department of Home Affairs to protect whistleblowers and temporary visa holders who report exploitation to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The Committee also recommends that the Government establish the Pacific Seasonal Worker Program and Action Plan as a dominant source of low and semi-skilled employment in the Australian agricultural industry.

In line with this, he proposes eliminating the 88-day farm work requirement of the Work Holiday Maker program, and refocusing it on its original purpose of “facilitating cultural exchange,” not business.


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