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Australia – 457 visa holders targeted by fraudsters

26 July 2013

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Immigration Department have revealed that migrant works on 457 visas are being targeted by fraudsters impersonating government officials.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has welcomed the exposé stating that unions had been concerned for a long time about the exploitation of vulnerable temporary workers by agents and employers, and the lack of real time monitoring.

Dave Oliver, ACTU secretary said: “The latest [abuses] show that scammers are willing to be ruthlessly creating in their exploitation of foreign workers. As long as we have a system of 457 visas where the worker’s migration status depends on their employer, there will be scope for workers to be exploited.”

“These visas are being used to recruit a vulnerable workforce that is powerless to speak up about underpayment and poor safety. In the past week we’ve heard about workers being told they need to invest in companies in order to be offered a 457 visa job. There appears to be no limit to what people will do to exploit workers, many of [whom] are not at all well off, already owe money to dodgy agents, and are worried about their future.”

“Unions have exposed cases where workers from India and the Philippines have been burdened with huge debts by loan sharks in order to obtain 457 visas and are then underpaid and mistreated in Australia. These arrangements may not be illegal, but they are taking advantage of poor, vulnerable workers and should be condemned,” he added.

These abuses come amid rising concern over the use of 457 visas across Australia. Many trade unions and jobseekers recently successfully campaigned to force companies to try and source ‘local talent’ before resorting to recruiting from overseas.

“The government has passed legislation to ensure that companies wanting to employ workers on 457 visas must advertise locally first. That’s a good start but we need better monitoring to stamp out [the] exploitation of temporary workers in Australia,” said Mr Oliver. 

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