Settlement Council of Australia (SCOA) Media release

The Settlement Council of Australia (SCOA) welcomes the Federal Government’s package of reforms announced on Monday designed to address migrant worker exploitation.

The Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Giles committed to introducing three important protections for migrant workers: protection against visa cancellation; flexible visa requirements for future sponsorship visas; and a short-term visa to bring claims for wages they are owed and hold exploitative employers to account.

SCOA has long been advocating for reforms to migrant worker exploitation and visa protections. Led by the Human Rights Law Centre, Migrant Justice Institute and academics at UNSW and UTS, SCOA joined a nationwide coalition of 40 organisations to urge the Federal Government to implement whistleblower safeguards that would empower migrant workers to report instances of exploitation without jeopardising their visa status.

SCOA Chair Melissa Monteiro said: “Adequate safeguards and protections to stamp out exploitation of migrant workers are long overdue and these reforms will empower migrant workers and hold non-compliant employers to account.”

SCOA CEO Sandra Elhelw Wright said: “We are thrilled with this outcome and commend the Government for taking measures to improve conditions for migrant workers. This is an incredible achievement that has been made possible thanks to the tireless campaigning by organisations and individuals dedicated to addressing exploitation.” 

“Settlement services play a crucial role in protecting against migrant worker exploitation. Migrant workers may face language barriers and cultural differences that make it challenging to navigate their rights and seek help. Our network of services provides essential information to migrant workers about their rights, labour laws, and available resources,” Ms Elhelw Wright added.

The new measures will:

  • Make it a criminal offense to coerce someone into breaching their visa condition;
  • Introduce prohibition notices to stop employers from further hiring people on temporary visas where they have exploited migrants;
  • Increase penalties and new compliance tools to deter exploitation; and
  • Repeal section 235 of the Migration Act which actively undermines people reporting exploitative behaviour.

SCOA looks forward to working with the Government on these reforms to ensure all migrants and refugees are free from exploitation. 

About The Settlement Council of Australia 

The Settlement Council of Australia (SCOA) is the peak body representing services across Australia supporting new migrants and refugees. We are committed to building an Australia where every migrant and refugee feels at home, together with our membership which is over 115 members strong and counting. We are a trusted source of policy advice, and a thought leader on enhancing the economic and social inclusion of migrants and refugees. The services of our members range from greeting new arrivals at the airport, through to assisting them to secure housing, learn English, make social connections, access services and find their first job. Australia’s settlement services are recognised as being among the best in the world.

2015 Job Search Program

HARDA in partnership with Liverpool Migrant Resource Centre and trainer HARDA Job Search Post Training Activity Mohammed Sabsabi (DDM3 Consulting), have just completed the first phase of a pilot Job Training Program: 10 training sessions to assist people from a Horn of African background 20yrs and over to obtain the knowledge and skills to assist them to seek and gain employment. The training was tailored to the individual knowledge, skills and experience and career aspirations of each of the 11 job seeking participants.

The training program was designed to help participants to:

  • Use their existing knowledge, skills and experience to find their ideal job
  • Learn to use different strategies and tools to look for job opportunities
  • Learn how to increase your network contacts within the field you want to be employed
  • Learn how to write a personalised resume and cover letter for each job you apply for
  • Learn what employers expect of you and what you should expect from employers
  • Learn effective inter skills and techniques

As a result of the training program participants now have

  • Their own job search plan and clear career goals
  • Their own customized resume and covering letter
  • A checklist of the key interview questions and key responses
  • Strategies to promote their skills and experience to employers
  • Confidence to seek and apply for jobs that meet your career goals

To acknowledge their commitment to the program each participate received a certificate of completion and to celebrate this achievement HARDA and project partner Liverpool Migrant Resource Centre help a Picnic and day of Soccer at Chipping Norton Lakes (See photos).

Phase two of the project; a 10 week mentoring program has just begun. The program aims to connect job seekers to mentors to provide individual support to follow on the completion of the job training.   The role of the mentors will be to support job seekers to look for work and progress towards their career, education and life aspirations. Mentors will be matched with a job seeker and provide regular support (via phone and/or email and face to face depending on what works for the mentor and job seeker). The aim of the mentoring component is to encourage the job seekers to keep motivated and committed to using the skills they have gained in their training to look for job opportunities and provide post-employment support until the program concludes in November 2015. The mentors will also support job seekers to link with professional networks and attend professional networking events.