Monthly Archives: June 2019

Backpackers over-represented in underpayment disputes

The Fair Work Ombudsman resolved more than 800 disputes for 417 visa holders in the past financial year. Photo: Louie DouvisBackpackers on 417 working holiday visas make up a small percentage of workers in Australia, but are over-represented in complaints to the Fair Work Ombudsman.
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In 2015-16, the Ombudsman resolved 855 workplace disputes involving overseas workers on the 417 working holiday visa.

This represents 45 per cent of the 1894 workplace disputes involving overseas workers on all types of visas resolved by the Ombudsman. #backpackers= 0.1% of workers but 6% of our complaints and 45% of all #visa holder complaints. https://t.co/[email protected]_caldwell— Natalie James (@NatJamesFWO) September 21, 2016

The 417 visa disputes made up six per cent of the of the 14,329 workplace disputes the Fair Work Ombudsman resolved across the country in 2015-16.

A Fair Work Ombudsman spokesman said it had a strong focus on protecting the rights of overseas workers, including backpackers.

“We know they can be vulnerable if they are not fully aware of their workplace rights or are reluctant to complain,” the spokesman said.

“We are conscious that youth, language and cultural barriers can also create difficulties for overseas workers.”

The spokesman said overseas workers contributed to the labour market by providing specialised skills, knowledge and innovation.

“And a more flexible labour supply, particularly in industries where employers have difficulty attracting domestic workers,” he said.

“We want the work experience of an international student in Australia to be a positive one.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Circuit Court has penalised the operators of a strawberry farm on Newlands Rd at Cottonvale, near Stanthorpe, almost $70,000.

Farm owner Hour Him and his partner Tay-Duc Nguyen, the farm’s former operations manager, were each ordered to pay $6400 – and Him’s company, I Luv Pty Ltd, was ordered to pay a further $56,000.

The Fair Work Ombudsman discovered that six overseas workers were underpaid a total of $2601 when the farm was audited last year as part of the agency’s national Harvest Trail Inquiry.

The six employees, who were on 417 working holiday visas, were underpaid over a two-week period between March 28 and April 10, 2015.

It was not the first time that workers on the property were underpaid.

In 2013, the Fair Work Ombudsman required I Luv Pty Ltd to back-pay nine employees more than $21,000.

The company also received two contravention letters and a formal letter of caution placing it on notice that further breaches could result in enforcement action.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says the court’s decision sent a clear message to rural employers that exploitation of overseas workers would not be tolerated.

Judge Salvatore Vasta also agreed to make additional orders aimed at overhauling workplace practices on the farm. These were agreed to by the operators.

Judge Vasta ordered I Luv Pty Ltd to commission an external audit of its compliance with workplace laws next year and provide the Fair Work Ombudsman with a report on the findings, including steps taken to rectify any non-compliance.

Him and Nguyen were instructed to do training in relation to their workplace obligations.

I Luv Pty Ltd must register with the My Account service at 梧桐夜网fairwork.gov419论坛 and use the educational self-help tools for employers.

Ms James said the Fair Work Ombudsman was devoting considerable resources to ensuring the many farms around the country that relied heavily on labour from overseas workers were complying with workplace laws.

The Harvest Trail Inquiry was launched in response to ongoing requests for assistance from employees in the horticulture sector and confusion among growers and labour-hire contractors about their workplace obligations.

“We are conscious many fruit pickers are young overseas workers who may be vulnerable if they are not fully aware of their rights, are reluctant to complain or face language barriers,” Ms James said.

“It’s important we are proactive about ensuring they receive their full lawful entitlements.”

The Fair Work Ombudsman is also finalising a national review of the wages and conditions of overseas workers in Australia on the 417 working holiday visa after receiving allegations that some unscrupulous operators were exploiting backpackers.

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No inquest into death of 14-year-old girl in care

A 14-year-old girl with special needs died after choking on McDonalds Photo: Louie DouvisThe deputy state coroner has released his findings into the death of a 14-year-old girl who spent the majority of her life in state care.
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The girl, identified as C in court documents, was described as the “queen bee” within her care home and as someone who loved cheerleading and dancing, had been placed in care when she was born due to her mother’s inability to care for her.

C was born with a series of special needs including brain damage, failure to thrive, developmental delay, lung disease and congenital cataracts and needed to be fed by a gastrostomy button.

She lived in foster care for a number of years before the death of one carer led to the second carer being unable to cope with her high needs.

C began living in state-supported care facilities, where she remained the subject of a child protection order.

On June 27 last year C was on an outing with carers, who had purchased some McDonalds.

The carers placed the McDonalds in the foot well in the front seat of the vehicle, while C was in the back.

C was known to take food not belonging to her and struggle with eating, so advice was provided to carers to ensure she didn’t eat too quickly.

Somehow, C was able to reach through to the front of the vehicle from her seat in the back and take some of the McDonalds, which she ate and began choking on.

Carers observed her turning red, then blue, before she passed out and resuscitation attempts were made.

Paramedics arrived and were able to resuscitate C before she was taken to Lady Cilento Childrens Hospital, where she was put on life support.

Her family and her adult guardian later decided to turn off her life support.

The deputy state coroner found the frequency of visits from child safety officers while C was in care did not meet departmental requirements however he found the carers took all reasonable steps to prevent the incident from happening in the first place and in providing medical assistance and calling triple zero when she began choking.

He found the circumstances of C’s death did not warrant an inquest.

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Plans to convert Brisbane’s Irish Club into a seven-theatre cinema complex

If approved, the Elizabeth Picture Theatre would open on the Irish Club site. Photo: Supplied Tara House was once the epicentre of Brisbane’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations. Photo: Harrison Saragossi
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An application to convert the old Irish Club into a cinema complex has been submitted to Brisbane City Council. Photo: Supplied

The brothers behind the restoration of the New Farm Cinemas have turned their attention to Brisbane’s old Irish Club, with a view of converting it to a heritage cinema complex.

Plans for Stephen and Peter Sourris’s planned Elizabeth Picture Theatre at Tara House, the former site of the Queensland Irish Association’s club house on Elizabeth Street, were submitted to Brisbane City Council last week.

The Sourris brothers have applied to transform Tara House, which ceased to be home to the Queensland Irish Association last year, into a seven-theatre cinema complex.

The ornate ballroom, situated upstairs, would be converted into the main, 121-seat cinema room without changing the original room layout.

The other six cinemas would range in size from 18 to 57 seats.

Fairfax Media sought comment from the Sourris brothers, but Stephen Sourris said they would not speak publicly about the project until it received council approval.

According to documents lodged with the council, the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning had given its “in-principle support” for the proposal following a pre-lodgement meeting.

That meeting also included Peter Sourris, architects, town planners and officers from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

“The classically designed structure was built during the 1870s and retains much of the original design and architectural features of the original building, maintained and restored during the occupation of the building by the Queensland Irish Association since its constructions through to 2015,” a departmental site report of the meeting says.

“…Redevelopment plans are intended to incorporate and/or protect heritage elements over the existing ground and first floors and create modern, innovative uses for internal and basement spaces.

“It was agreed that the ballroom was a relatively intact space and would be required to be preserved.

“The project team have based design decisions from the perspective of the cinemas being a ‘temporary’ use of the building.

“All new fixtures, floors, partitions, screens and use areas are designed to be reversible and non-permanent.”

The Sourris brothers have previously restored the New Farm Cinemas, opening a six-theatre complex on the site of the old Village Twin in 2014.

They also owned and operated the Yatala Drive-In cinema, which was established by their father Jim Sourris.

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Ronald Lyons charged with murder of housemate Samantha Kelly

Ronald Lyons, Christine Lyons and Peter Arthur outside the home they shared with Samantha Kelly in the Bendigo suburb of Kangaroo Flat. Photo: Simon O’DwyerThe third housemate allegedly involved in the death of Bendigo woman Samantha Kelly has been charged with murder.
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Ronald Lyons, 44, was initially charged with being an accessory to murder, but on Monday night police upgraded that charge.

“Police have today interviewed a man and upgraded his charges in relation to the death of Kangaroo Flat woman Samantha Kelly,” police spokeswoman Amelia Penhall said.

The body of 39-year-old Samantha Kelly was found in bushland near Bendigo-Maryborough Road in Shelbourne on February 11 this year.

Police believe she was killed “on or about” January 20, at the Kangaroo Flat home she shared with her three housemates.

The 44-year-old man, and husband of Christine Lyons, will appear at Swan Hill Magistrates’ Court tomorrow.

Mrs Lyons had her charges upgraded from being an accessory to murder to murder in early August.

Another housemate, Peter James Arthur, 44, was also charged with murder.

Between the alleged murder of Ms Kelly, and their eventual arrest on February 12, the three allegedly took over the care of Ms Kelly’s four children.

They allegedly concocted a story that their mother had “abandoned them”, before re-enrolling one daughter at school under a different surname.

The three housemates appeared in photographs for several newspapers after Ms Kelly’s disappearance, in an apparent attempt to raise awareness of the missing person.

Ms Penhall said the two others appeared in court on September 14.

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Do you remember when … September 2003

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