Working rights

In 2014, seven women were sponsored on subclass 457 visas from Thailand. When they arrived in Australia, they were subject to severe exploitation by their employer including being forced to sleep on the floor; being required to work over 12 hours a day, 6 days a week; restrictions on leaving the home and on what they could eat and drink; and significant underpayment while being forced to pay back certain “costs” to their employer from their already low wage.

If they breached any of those rules, the employer threatened to cancel their visas, have them removed from Australia and kill their families.

When their employer finally followed through on his commitment to sponsor the women for a permanent visa, they managed to escape and seek help from the Salvation Army and eventually a union. The employer’s visa nomination was refused by the Department of Home Affairs (in part due to the treatment of the women) which meant that the women’s visa applications were also refused by the Department of Home Affairs and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. As a result, the women were unable to apply for almost all other visas while in Australia.

The women’s union referred all seven women to IARC through Visa Assist. IARC assisted them to make multiple submissions to the Minister to intervene in their case based on their compelling situation. In February 2021, the Minister decided to intervene and grant the women visas to remain in Australia.