Letter: the treatment of temporary migrants

Many migrant workers come to Australia to undertake work in order to send money home to support their families. These people’s visa conditions tie them each to a single sponsoring employer, such that if they leave those employers they lose their visas and have to return home.

A recent ABC podcast dealt with an investigation into some most unsatisfactory consequences of this arrangement.

It found that a number of unscrupulous employers take advantage of the workers, charging excessive amounts for board and lodging, requiring unpaid overtime, and deducting from their wages sums for actual and imagined misdemeanours. The ABC’s inquiry found that workers were reluctant to complain about these employers due to fears that their visas would be cancelled. And this could indeed happen. We have also heard reports of workers’ passports being ‘held’ by their employers, thus depriving them of the opportunity to travel freely.

We wrote to the Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Kristina Keneally, urging her to sponsor amendments to the Migration Amendment (Protecting Migrant Workers) Bill 2021 [Provisions], or to propose or support a further bill to deal with this scandal.

More information: read our letter