Fair Work Ombudsman to target workplace exploitation of int’l students in new social media campaign

INTERNATIONAL students are the focus of a new social media campaign by the Fair Work Ombudsman to inform them of their rights and expectations in the workplace. Emily Umstad has details.


Amongst more than 400,000 international students here in Australia, many have to work to support their education at the mercy of workplace exploitation. Stories of unfair treatment, being underpaid and over-worked are unfortunately commonplace for these working international students.

In an attempt to curb this growing exploitation of international workers, the Fair Work Ombudsman is starting an extensive social media campaign to inform students of their rights in the workplace.

The campaign aims to alert up to 100,000 international students by running informative messages on Facebook and Twitter in Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Vietnamese, Portuguese and Thai.

According to Fair Work Ombudsman’s Natalie James, 150 students have contacted the Agency citing concerns for their working conditions including reports of workers being paid as little as $8 an hour.

“The reality is that most international students need to work to support themselves while studying, and the best defence against being underpaid or treated unfairly is to know your rights,” Ms James said.

“We are keen to ensure that all those who work in Australia are treated with dignity and respect and accorded the same rights as local workers.”

Community engagement officers will also be interacting with international students, their associations, universities and other education providers to better understand “the needs of the international student community” so that they can “tailor [their] resources and programs accordingly”.

Employers and employees seeking advice or assistance should visit the Fair Work website or contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. A free interpreter service is available by calling 13 14 50. Information to assist people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds has been translated into 27 languages, with fact sheets tailored to overseas workers and international students. YouTube videos in 14 languages are also available to assist overseas workers understand their workplace rights in Australia. You can follow Fair Work on Facebook and Twitter, as well as Fair Work Ombudsman’s Natalie James (@NatJamesFWO).

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Meld Magazine was incorporated as an independent not-for-profit media outlet in September 2008 to reach out to international students in Melbourne, and provide students the opportunity to gain real work experience.

Many international students live in or around the city because of the proximity to their colleges and universities, and that was where we decided to focus our efforts first. Many of us live, work and study locally too. Our editorial team is made of both local and international students, and it has worked to our advantage in providing local content in every sense of the word.

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