The Migrant Workers Centre welcomes today’s announcement that the Federal Government will introduce a range of important new visa-based protections for migrant workers who raise issues of exploitation in their workplaces.
Today the Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Giles committed to a suite of reforms targeted at addressing the systemic exploitation of migrant workers. These include new visa protections for migrants who report workplace abuse and more flexible application of visa provisions when workers have been mistreated by their employers.
Whistle-blower protections and other measures to reduce the barriers migrant workers face when reporting workplace abuse are essential if we are to realise the promise of safer, fairer work for everyone in Australia.
Notably the announcement outlines plans for a new visa type that would allow workers to remain in the country while their workplace exploitation matters are taken to court – an important step in ensuring equal access to our justice system.
For these reforms to be effective, they must be co-designed in such a way that centres the lived experience of migrant workers and protects their pathways to permanent settlement.
QUOTES ATTRIBUTABLE TO MATT KUNKEL, CEO MIGRANT WORKERS CENTRE
“These changes are welcome first steps towards removing the inherent uncertainty and insecurity at the core of our migration system. Migrant workers and their supporters have been calling for these measures and are determined to ensure their implementation achieves the goal of stamping out workplace exploitation. The success of these measures will rely on a co-design process that listens to the wider concerns of migrant workers.
“It’s essential that these reforms are co-designed and implemented in such a way that not only creates strong disincentives for unscrupulous employers to break the law but also provides security to migrant workers and protects their settlement pathways.
“It’s unconscionable that our visa system forces many workers to choose between their residency and their workplace rights. Whistle-blower protections will empower migrant workers to seek fair employment and be treated as equal members of our communities. The benefits will be felt by all workers."
“All workers must be empowered to raise issues of workplace exploitation without the concern of disrupting their settlement pathways.”