The Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans, today welcomed a court decision to fine a Victorian employer $150 000 for exploiting international students.
After a successful prosecution by the Fair Work Ombudsman, Melbourne Magistrate’s Court also ordered the operators of the two 7-Eleven stores in Melbourne and Geelong to pay the students almost $90 000 in back pay.
“This result sends a strong message to unscrupulous employers that exploitation will not be tolerated,” Senator Evans said.
“International students, and any foreign worker, are afforded the same protections against exploitation as Australian workers.
“I congratulate the Fair Work Ombudsman’s office for its successful prosecution of this matter.
“It is important that international students in Australia understand their rights in a range of areas, including the workplace.”
Magistrate Kate Hawkins fined Toorak couple Hao Chen and Xue Jing $20 000 and $10 000 respectively and imposed a fine of $120 000 against their private company Bosen Pty Ltd.
The six students from India and Zimbabwe had all recently arrived in Australia and were employed at Chen and Jing’s stores in South Yarra and Geelong.
They were paid flat hourly rates that were less than half the rates they were entitled to for many shifts.
Foreign students can work up to 20 hours a week under their visa conditions for studying in Australia.
In September 2010 the Government released the International Students Strategy for Australia which includes a number of initiatives focused on the well being of international students, the quality of their educational experience and the provision of up-to-date and accurate information.
The strategy outlines 12 initiatives to address four key areas of concern including international student wellbeing, consumer protection, the quality of international education and the availability of better information for international students.
The Government also recently passed legislation that will provide greater protection for international students.
The ESOS Amendment Act, which commenced on 8 April 2011, aims to protect international students by further strengthening education providers’ registration requirements and expanding the role of the Commonwealth Ombudsman for external complaints by international students relating to private providers.