Talk to us

CathNews, the most frequently visited Catholic website in Australia, is your daily news service featuring Catholics and Catholicism from home and around the world, Mass on Demand and on line, prayer, meditation, reflections, opinion, and reviews. And, what's more - it's free!

Between 27,000 and 82,000 migrant workers are paid below the national minimum wage (Pixabay)

One in six migrants is paid less than the national minimum wage according to a new report by the Grattan Institute, which says governments have failed to stop the exploitation of migrant workers. Source: ABC News. 

The report suggests between 5 per cent and 16 per cent of employed recently arrived migrants – or between 27,000 and 82,000 workers – are paid below the national minimum wage of $21.38 (for adults over the age of 21), compared to up to 9 per cent of all Australian workers.

And between 1.5 per cent and 8 per cent of recent migrants – between 6,500 and 42,000 people – are underpaid by at least three dollars an hour.

“We found this really surprising, and frankly, pretty disturbing,” says Grattan Institute economist Brendan Coates.

“We don’t want a world where we’re not enforcing our workplace laws. Underpayment of migrant workers can leave migrants destitute.”

The report notes migrants also face other threats such as racism and discrimination, having their passports confiscated, being reported to the Department of Home Affairs, or being forced to pay an employer or middleman for obtaining a job or visa.

It calls for a complete overhaul of visa rules, for workplace and migration laws to be strengthened and better enforcement to deter exploitation, and migrants to be given more help to reclaim lost wages.

The report comes as the Albanese Government is expected to soon announce reforms to tackle migrant worker exploitation.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said migrant exploitation “hurts both Australian and migrant workers and puts a handbrake on wages”.

“No worker should be trapped in unsafe work because of their visa,” he said.

“The Albanese Government will make it easier for vulnerable migrants to speak out by protecting them if they are exploited.”


One in six migrant workers are ‘exploited’, but many Australians are also paid below the national minimum wage (ABC News)


Beef up workplace ombudsman to catch underpayers, report recommends (The Age)