The Exploitation of Unlawful Migrant Labour : Crime, Labour and Regulation

Project Description

Unlawful migrant labour has been identified as a significant issue for Australia, with estimates that between 50-100,000 non citizens are working illegally in Australia (Howell 2011). While increasingly immigration and labour regulatory responses are merging to respond to this issue, the impact of these practices upon the level and nature of victimisation and conditions of exploitation requires investigation. Through examining experiences across the agricultural, construction and hospitality industries this research will identify whether and how regulatory systems may be contributing to, or sustaining, exploitative conditions experienced by unlawful migration labourers, including trafficking, and identify future policy options.

Interim Report - Exploited and Illegal: Unlawful Migrant Workers in Australia

This report offers preliminary findings from a large study of unlawful migrant labour in Australia. This labour force includes those who entered Australia lawfully with a visitor visa, and therefore have no work rights, and/ or those who have overstayed their visa and thus no longer have a right to remain, or work, in Australia. The research privileges this group, as in law and in policy, they have the least protection of all migrant workers in Australia. They are not, however, an insignificant group: in 2011 it was estimated that between 50-100,000 non-citizens are working unlawfully in Australia (Howells 2011). This interim report seeks to draw attention primarily to the issue of unlawful migrant work in Australia; to debunk some key myths around this population; and to raise a challenge to policy makers and legislators to look towards a future that will enable impact labour reform to be achieved – reform that will reduce the levels of exploitation and modern slavery occurring within Australia. The report also raises the question: can Australia commit to countering modern slavery and migrant labour exploitation if it continues to sideline unlawful migrant labour experiences based on workers’ migration status?

Read the Interim Report