GET US OUT OF HERE: Backpackers Letty Bell and Dylan Haywood say Bundaberg has a poor reputation among holiday workers.
GET US OUT OF HERE: Backpackers Letty Bell and Dylan Haywood say Bundaberg has a poor reputation among holiday workers. Eliza Goetze

Worker exploitation issues need a national focus: Growcom

GROWCOM and the Queensland Horticulture Council have provided comment on a range of options suggested by the Queensland Government to protect labour hire workers in Queensland from mistreatment and exploitation.

This follows the release of the Parliamentary Committee's report in June last year containing evidence of exploitation and mistreatment of labour hire workers in Queensland. The report, Inquiry into the practices of the labour hire industry in Queensland, can be read online on the Parliament website.

Similar evidence of exploitation and mistreatment has also been provided to Inquiries held in other Australian jurisdictions.

A labour hire issues paper released by the government outlined a range of options the government is considering in its efforts to improve the industry - including state regulation through a licensing scheme. The issues paper Regulation of the labour hire industry 2016 can be read on the Queensland Treasury website here.

However, in our submission we called for a national agreement through the Council of Australian Governments rather than a State-based approach. We have responded to a range of other issues raised in the paper.

The closing date for submissions is next Monday, February 6.

In the meantime Growcom is continuing to inform horticulture growers and all farmers of their legal obligations under the Fair Work Act, National Employment Standards and relevant Awards.

Free half-day seminars, funded by the Queensland Government and sponsored by AustSafe Super, are being held in various regional locations to help agricultural businesses achieve Fair Work compliance and better manage employment risks.

By attending these seminars, participants take away a much clearer understanding of where the gaps are in their policies and practices. Importantly, they are provided with useful links to industry relevant best practice resources to establish improved practices in their workplaces.

To date, 96% of surveyed participants said that they will be implementing workplace management improvements as a result of what they had learnt at the seminar.

The next seminar will be held in Mackay next Wednesday, February 8. Other dates coming up are in Yeppoon, Emerald, St George and Kingaroy with Wide Bay dates yet to be announced.

The seminars are free of charge for all agricultural producers. To register visit

'Exploitation' on our doorstep

THE Aussie backpacking dream is over for a UK couple after an experience in Bundaberg they say left a bad taste in their mouths.

But a dodgy ad could be to blame.

Letty Bell, 22, and Dylan Haywood, 26, pictured, both from Brighton, travelled to Bundaberg from Melbourne two weeks ago after responding to an online ad promising a room and work on a citrus farm.

When they arrived with not much more than the clothes on their backs, they were hit with costs they could not afford.

"We drove up from Melbourne on the basis of this job,” Dylan said.

The couple said the ad did not mention a $100 bond, nor a $100 deposit for farm equipment, and the room did not include promised air-conditioning.

They also claim they were told, despite owning hi-vis shirts, they had to pay $20 to buy branded hi-vis shirts - only to be told by their farm manager the branding did not matter.

They also made far less than they were anticipating.

"For the whole of last week, working eight hours a day, we made $420,” Dylan said.

The bin rate was advertised as $180, but the couple believe they were underpaid.

"We've been losing money the whole time we've been here, to the point where we've booked a train out of here, back to Brisbane,” Dylan said.

The owner of the hostel where they stayed refuted their claims, suggesting copy from their ads may have been appropriated.

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