Abuse scandal hits Aussie migrant scheme

Sep 07 2007 by Derek Torres Print This Article

Here's an Australian angle on Max McKeown's piece earlier this week about the economic contribution made by immigrants.

Thousands of skilled migrants from Asia work in Australia under a skilled visa scheme. But as the Sydney Morning Herald reports, allegation of intimidation, exploitation and abuse – not to mention the deaths of two Filipino workers – have sparked a diplomatic row about the way migrants are treated.

In most cases of intimidation and abuse, it has been more industrial-type positions involved. However, that's hardly a reason for such actions to be tolerated. After all, today its factory workers, tomorrow it may well be software engineers. Abuse shouldn't be sanctioned only after someone has died.

Unfortunately, in this case it appears that Australian authorities stepped in too late. Why were workplace conditions allowed to foster an environment where abuse was tolerated? Why did that environment exist where a worker felt unable to reach out to upper management or HR to discuss the issue? Do government authorities not perform workplace inspections?

Obviously better oversight of companies that obtain skilled worker visas is needed. As they most likely needed extensive documentation to prove their need to hire skilled labor, it also seems that they should be held better accountable to ensure that they honor visa requirements.