Migration reforms make it harder for employers in to “weaponise” visas

The Federal Government’s migration strategy will help improve a broken, neglected system that allowed migrants to be exploited in Australia.

“For too long migrants have been afraid to speak up about unfair pay, exploitation and unsafe conditions at work,” Principal Solicitor Joshua Strutt said.

“They have faced systemic exploitation in Australia due to the lack of adequate whistle-blower protections and a fundamental power imbalance between workers and their employers.

“We have clients who were essentially held captive and threatened by their Australian employer. Told they’d have their visas cancelled, be removed from Australia and that their families would be killed if they didn’t follow their rules.

“It’s why the Immigration Advice and Rights Centre, alongside other advocates, have been lobbying for changes to the migration system for a long time. Finally, today, the government has announced changes that will allow migrant workers to enforce their workplace rights,” he said.

Mr Strutt says the new Skills in Demand visa which would allow migrant workers to move between workplaces, rather than stay with one employer for years, will have a major impact.

“The ability to leave a workplace that’s doing the wrong thing is crucial to protecting migrant workers against exploitation,” he said.

“If migrants have the choice to leave, without impacting their visa status and pathway to permanent residency, it will make it harder for employers to weaponise their visa status and use it to exploit them.

“It gives people the power to leave unsafe situations and speak up about how they are being treated rather than continue being underpaid or suffering through horrible conditions so they can stay in Australia,” Mr Strutt said.

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For more information or to arrange an interview with Joshua Strutt please contact Communications Manager Sarah Sinclair on 0419 170 535 or [email protected].

Read the full media release here.