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29 Oct 2018

Melissa Davey, Guardian

A third of Australia's foreign workers paid less than half minimum wage – study

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29 October 2018

The most comprehensive study to date of wage theft and working conditions among international students, backpackers and other temporary migrants in Australia has found almost a third earned [AUD]$12 an hour or less, approximately half the casual minimum wage.

The survey also found large-scale wage theft was worst in fruit and vegetable-picking and farm work....

The findings were published in the report Wage Theft in Australia...authored by senior law lecturers Bassina Farbenblum, from the University of New South Wales, and Laurie Berg, from the University of Technology Sydney.

“The study dispelled the misconception that temporary migrants are underpaid because they are unaware of minimum wage rates in Australia,” the report said.

“...However, they perceived that few people on their visa can expect to receive minimum wages... 86% of believing that many...on their visa are paid less....”

...Many were unsure of the process or believed it would be too difficult to recover the wages, and more than a quarter said they would not speak up because of fears of losing their visa.

...The report concluded that improved support services and immigration safeguards would encourage more workers to report their employer and to successfully seek redress, and that doing so would be crucial to ensuring Australia remained an attractive destination for international students and backpackers...