Amid a worldwide reaction against the movement that has overturned governmental issues in the Western Developed countries (United States, Britain, and quite a bit of Europe), even Australia is switching course, to a policy of welcoming skilled foreigners that have been fuelling economic growth from decades— and changed a country once shut to non-white migrants into a multicultural society.
With International borders closed, COVID-19 has exposed the dependency of the Australian Economy on Temporary migration. The Immigration department is unable to fulfil the requirements of supplying the necessary workforce to run small businesses. There is an acute shortage of staff mostly in the major sectors of the economy, be it Agriculture, Hospitality, Medicines, Retail. The economy is showing no signs of revival anytime soon. But do all the immigrants get the same treatment as the Australians in the employment sector? This is the question of concern.
Although, the government boasts of having equal rights for all the temporary migrants and claims that proper systems are set up for any unfair practices, but are these systems fairly followed?
Criminal Cartels in Australia are exploiting this “broken” immigration system and facilitating unlawful migration on a fee-for-service basis. As per one of the roundtable immigration discussions in the Senate, it came up that almost 60-70% of workers on farms in some regional areas were working illegally earning merely $4 an hour. This situation of under-payments not only prevailed in just farms, but also in hospitality, retail, and many other sectors when there was no such shortage of temporary immigrants. But now the situation has completely transformed with the supply of the workforce curve declining and demand for workforce rising at an increasing pace. The difference in the demand and supply curve is forcing many employers to even pay more than the award wages to survive in the market. But for how long this situation will prevail. Once Australia permits the entry of immigrants again, things will be back at the grassroots level from where they started. Are we prepared to let our people get exploited again? At least not me this time. I cannot let this discrimination happen to my people again especially after what they have been through both financially and mentally during COVID. Any system that deliberately instigates innocent people (temporary immigrants in this case), and disrupts the local communities in the process, is a broken system.
Many Organisations like Fair Work and Unions (like SDA) do work to safeguard the interest of immigrants and fight for their rights of equal pay, but only if someone reports such situations which in most cases does not happen because of the fear of getting involved in the litigation cases which is a time consuming and expensive process. I strongly believe that the govt. is doing its best to curb all malpractices to avoid discrimination and promote equality for all. Being an aware and responsible citizen, it also becomes all of our prime responsibility to make sure we support govt. in its deeds and report any wrongdoings to the concerned departments thus protecting the basic rights of immigrants and making them feel welcome. Campaigns should be promoted by private and government bodies to spread awareness about Fair Work and employee rights.
The journey through COVID has taught us a lot of things. Any government before framing the policies would prioritize considering the welfare of its country and its countrymen. But at the same time, they should also adopt a very simple & rational approach of remembering to safeguard the interests and rights of all humans. Those humans who have decided to migrate in search of better studies, life, or whatever their reason may be to our beautiful country- Australia.
So, let’s come together and take a pledge in making Australia the most liveable country in the world.