Fair Work Ombudsman in right direction with new translation services: Ethnic Council

The Australian Ethnic Communities’ Council says the move by the Fair Work Ombudsman to provide information in 40 different languages other than English on their website is a positive step forward.

The new function translates industry-specific terms such as “award” and “penalty rates” into the chosen languages in the hope it will better help migrant workers understand their workplace rights and obligations.

Chairperson of Federation of Ethnic Communites’ Councils of Australia, Mary Patetsos, told SBS News her organisation is really pleased with the Ombudsman's efforts to help prevent workers from being exploited.

"Any information to a vulnerable group such as these particular workers who have language difficulties ought to be applauded," Ms Patetsos said.

“I think information is a really important thing. People need to have knowledge about their rights and also their responsibilities”

“Especially those who are visa holders ought to be protected by abuse”.

Marta Terracciano employs 70 migrants and encourages them to consider their workplace entitlements
Marta Terracciano employs 70 migrants and as a migrant herself encourages her staff to consider their workplace entitlements (SBS News)
SBS News

Marta Terracciano moved to Australia 28 years ago from Uruguay, South America and said she had no idea about her rights or what she was entitled to as a migrant worker in Australia.

Now the CEO of an aged care business she employs 70 migrants, whose second language is English.

“Normally they are [confused] about their rights. When they come to Australia, they're coming from another culture, and most of them, they [are] not well informed before they arrive.”

Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James told SBS News there has been a steady rise in complaints from migrant workers and visa-holders, but said that her department has an arrangement with the Department of Immigration to protect visa workers who have been exploited.

“Many migrant workers in our experience primarily care about their visa status, and are worried if they ask for help, or if they take any action, their visa will be compromised,” she said.

Ms James said migrants seeking help will not have their visas affected. 

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