Measuring worker rights violations in practices: The example of 457 visas in Australia

Stream: Panel 13 - Comparative Politics: Themes in Temporary Migration
Date: Monday, 26 September 2016
Time: 2.00 pm – 3.30 pm


Recent media reportage draws attention to worker rights violations experienced by migrants on temporary visas. However, we lack a clear evidence base to understand the extent and nature of such abuses across time, space and visa. This paper presents findings from a recent pilot of a proposed Migrant Worker Rights Database. This proposed database is developed to measure the rights abuses of 457 visa holders in Australia from 1996 through to the present day. The pilots codes all available court cases brought by 457-visa holders before the Australian Fair Work Commission and relevant state and federal courts and tribunals, to capture legally recognised rights abuses that migrant workers experience on the ground. The Database also contains coding of all available media coverage of rights violations experienced by these visa holders. This combined evidence base generates a series of rights violation “events” that are then analysed to present patterns of rights abuse. The role of visa status, trade union representation, gender, sector, occupational earnings and year of event are all examined to elucidate patterns of reporting rights violations and to suggest extensions to analysis of other visa classes and migration contexts.


Anna Boucher (Presenter), University of Sydney
Anna's research interests are in the areas of public policy, with a particular focus on immigration, gender and the welfare state. Her work considers these issues from both an Australian and comparative perspective, with a political science and legal focus. Anna is an active researcher in the immigration field, having co-founded the Migration Studies Unit at the LSE. She is an ongoing Research Fellow of the Unit and a member of Cities research network at the University of Sydney. Her book Gender Migration and the Global Race for Talent analyses skilled immigration policies globally from a gender perspective.