• The farming sector, through labour hire companies, is one industry where foreign workers are vulnerable to exploitation. (Getty Images)
Following Insight's look at the levels of exploitation and forced labour among foreign workers in Australia, representatives from within the industries most affected have responded.
By
Madeleine King

28 Jul 2016 - 11:34 AM  UPDATED 2 Dec 2016 - 10:58 AM

Industry groups have responded to issues of labour exploitation among foreign workers in Australia after this week's episode of Insight brought attention to the issue. 

The show, which aired on Tuesday night, highlighted stories of forced labour and exploitation, some under conditions that experts on the forum likened to slavery. 

The Recruitment and Consulting Services Association (RCSA), a peak body for recruitment and human resources services sectors in Australia and New Zealand, issued a press release targetting corrupt labour hire companies - middlemen between foreign workers and prospective employers. 

“This is illegal and criminal activity," said CEO Charles Cameron. "However, we are most concerned that no amount of new law or additional inspectors will address the problem of exploitation of overseas workers. We need to eliminate the problem at the source." 

“For every dodgy labour hire firm, there is generally an irresponsible buyer and the criminal element only exists because these companies continue to turn a blind eye and don't engage ethical labour suppliers," the statement continued. 

The RSCA called for buyers of services to accept the same levels of responsibility as labour suppliers when it came to ensuring workers were not exploited. 

The Cultural Au Pair Association of Australia (CAPAA) also responded to the show, which highlighted the experience of German au pair Selina Groll, who was chronically underpaid in her job, denied promised benefits from her employer - including food and access to a car - and says her employer mistreated her. 

CAPAA responded by expressed their shock at hearing such an experience and called for an au pair visa program to ensure oversight in the industry. 

“A sponsored visa program with a robust regulatory framework and standard compensation will reduce the likelihood of au pairs having similar experiences as Ms Groll’s." said the association's president, Wendi Aylward.

“Au pairs are part of the childcare landscape in Australia. For many families an au pair is the only option to allow parents to return to the workforce. Steps need to be taken to ensure that it is safe and transparent experience which delivers what is promised." 

CAPAA recommends those thinking about becoming in au pair in Australia go through reputable agencies, including those who are members of the association. 

Media Release CAPAA 27th July 2016 - Response to Insight

 

Further organisations and peak bodies responded on the night via social media, calling for significant changes in industries that employ large numbers of foreign workers

 

 

Advocacy groups also weighed in: 

 

The episode, Fair Work, Fair Pay, is now available to watch online: 

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