John Walker of Bundy Workers and Divers chats to Ombudsman Don Brown, who is in town talking to hostel operators about rights and obligations.
John Walker of Bundy Workers and Divers chats to Ombudsman Don Brown, who is in town talking to hostel operators about rights and obligations. Mike Knott

Battle for Bundaberg backpackers

HOSTEL operators in the region have made a commitment to clean up their industry, backing a proposed code of ethics for dealing with travellers.

Queensland Workplace Rights Ombudsman Don Brown yesterday began three days of interviews and meetings with industry stakeholders to determine if any changes had been made since his last visit.

A meeting with hostel operators encouraged the ombudsman, who said he was impressed with the apparent commitment to providing travellers with a safe, honest experience.

“The operators were favourable about having a code in place,” Mr Brown said.

Things discussed for the code include the provision of appropriate information about wages and workplace health and safety for travellers, a commitment to clean and safe accommodation and a commitment to ensuring when the operator is involved in payments, the workers are given the correct wages.

Mr Brown said he was not surprised to see several hostel operators absent.

“Some of the missing ones are the ones we have had complaints about,” he said.

“That just made it an opportunity for the other hostel operators to tell me who is doing the wrong thing. ”

About 15 operators from Bundaberg and Childers attended the meeting, including Workers and Divers owner John Walker.

“It was a productive meeting,” he said. “The only issue is that they're talking to the converted. The people at the meeting are the ones trying to do the right thing already.”

Mr Walker said while the code of ethics was a start, it was by no means a solution.

“It will take co-ordination, persistence, resources, uniformity and I dare say changes to the legislation to clean things up,” he said.



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