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INFORMATION FOR IMPACT: Enabling education providers to address exploitation of international students in accommodation and at work (studynsw partner project)

This UNSW Sydney and UTS project will lead the international education sector to respond to exploitation of international students in accommodation and at work. Funded as a Partner Project by StudyNSW, it will enable education providers across the NSW VET, ELICOS and higher education sectors to more effectively deliver information on employment and housing that assists students to avoid and address exploitation. Building on existing research on student experiences and attitudes in relation to exploitation, the project will examine the types of information that will effectively respond to students’ needs and experiences, and influence their attitudes. Research will include focus groups and a survey of international students, and collation of the views of project partners and other student-facing stakeholders across the international education sector. The findings will be published in a report in late 2019.

The project is led by Laurie Berg and Bassina Farbenblum. Project partners include English Australia, ISANA (NSW), the Council of International Students Australia, Redfern Legal Centre, the Fair Work Ombudsman, and education agents.


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7-Eleven: International students’ access to unpaid wages

After media reports of widespread exploitation of 7-Eleven’s international student workforce across Australia, the company established a Wage Repayment Program. Projected to pay out $150 million in total, this may be the largest payout of unpaid wages in Australian history. Drawing on interviews with international students and a range of stakeholders across Australia, this project considers the barriers that prevent international students from accessing remedies for unpaid entitlements within existing legal and institutional frameworks in Australia. It identifies the factors that made the 7-Eleven Wage Program so unusually accessible and effective, and lessons for government institutions and future business-led redress processes. Findings from the study were published in the article Lessons from the 7-Eleven Wage Repayment Program for remedying migrant worker exploitation in Australia.


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International students and the Fair Work Ombudsman

This project, commissioned by FWO in 2016, investigates why so few international students engage with FWO’s employment services despite widespread reporting of exploitation of international students in the Australian labour market. The 2017 report, International Students and the Fair Work Ombudsman, was authored by Alex Reilly, Joanna Howe, Laurie Berg, Bassina Farbenblum, and George Tan.

 
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International Students at UNSW: Conditions at work and access to justice

Funded by the UNSW Grand Challenge on Migration, this project examines UNSW international students’ conditions at work and access to remedies for wage underpayment. It draws on data from approximately 750 UNSW international students obtained through the Temporary Migrant Work Survey 2016. The study explores the nature of work undertaken by UNSW international students, including the hours they work, the industry and location of their work, their rates of pay and how they found their job. In order to identify appropriate services and interventions to address exploitation of working international students, it examines the factors that correlate with underpaid work and the reasons why these underpaid international students may not have sought to recover unpaid wages.