NSW: My Legal Mate – App for international students

From Redfern Legal Centre:

Redfern Legal Centre have been funded and supported by Study NSW, the City of Sydney and the Fair Work Ombudsman to develop a groundbreaking new mobile app offering multilingual legal advice to international students studying in NSW.

The product was launched last month at the Lord Mayor’s Welcome for overseas students at Sydney Town Hall.

You can see an introductory demo video here: https://rlc.org.au/article/my-legal-mate-putting-law-students’-pockets

Redfern Legal Centre provides a free statewide legal advice service for international students funded by Study NSW, and City of Sydney and we can see about 600 students per annum. However we know that up to 40% of NSW’s 260,000 international students will experience some form of legal issue during their study – impacting welfare, retention and offshore reputation. These issues are most commonly around employment, housing, disputes with education providers and sexual assault. Many of these students issues would be mitigated or avoided if students had access to better information in real time.

With our technology partner edtech company Practera, we have developed MyLegal Mate – a first of its kind interactive app, with video streams providing students with instant access to customised legal information, delivered in ‘face to face’ question and answer format in English and six other languages. We are offering the app to education providers on an annual non-profit subscription basis, allowing any student to access the information free-of-charge. Any revenue beyond operating costs will be re-invested in direct legal service delivery to international students. The Practera platform is already used by a number of NSW Universities.

This is an innovative way to ensure international students can get instant access to tailored legal information and be empowered to take greater control if problems occur. By downloading the app on enrolment, international students will be armed with information about their rights before they start their course, with the ultimate aim of preventing issues arising while they are in Australia.

Contact for more info:

Redfern Legal Centre | 73 Pitt St. Redfern NSW 2016

p. 02 9698 7277

From the Fair Work Ombudsman: National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces – Consultation with migrant workers and those on temporary visa.

The Australian Human Rights Commission is leading a National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces. Information about the National Inquiry and the full Terms of Reference can be found here.
The Commission would like to invite you or a representative from your organisation to a consultation that focuses specifically on migrant workers and people on temporary visas’ experiences of workplace sexual harassment. We would also be grateful for your assistance to share the details of this consultation with your networks.
The consultation will take place on Friday 15 February 2019, 9:30am – 11am at Settlement Services International, 2/158 Liverpool Road Ashfield NSW 2131. You can register to attend the consultation via this link.
If you have any questions, please contact the Commission’s National Inquiry team at SH.Inquiry@humanrights.gov.au or on (02) 9284 9750.
Online submissions — the closing date for online submissions to the National Inquiry is 28 February 2019. You can make an online submission to the National Inquiry here.
National Inquiry information and updates — for news and updates, you can subscribe to the National Inquiry website here.
The Commission is confident that this National Inquiry, by bringing together evidence, expertise and a range of views, will achieve the positive change that is clearly needed and looks forward to working together with you to develop solutions which will help ensure safe and respectful Australian workplaces.

Fair Work Ombudsman: New strategy to raise international students’ awareness of workplace rights

Fair Work Ombudsman: New strategy to raise international students’ awareness of workplace rights

New strategy to raise international students’ awareness of workplace rights

25 September 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman is reaching out to international students to encourage them to seek free help from the agency if they experience any issues while working in Australia.

The agency has launched a new strategy aimed at raising awareness of workplace rights among international students, who make up a large proportion of temporary entrants to Australia – numbering more than 560,000 as at July 2017.

In an open letter to international students published today, Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James is encouraging international students to get informed about their workplace rights and, if unsure, seek help.

Ms James has also urged international students to speak up if they have any concerns in relation to their employment, underlining that they have the same workplace rights as all other workers in Australia.

“The number of international students reporting issues to the Fair Work Ombudsman is disproportionately low compared to other categories of visa holders, despite the fact that international students represent a significant proportion of overseas visitors with work rights,” Ms James said.

“We know that international students can be reluctant to speak out when something is wrong, making them particularly vulnerable to exploitation. This is especially the case when students think that seeking assistance will damage future job prospects or lead to the cancellation of their visa.

“We’ve seen cases where employers have threatened international students with deportation for working more than the number of hours permitted under their visa when they have raised questions about their entitlements.

“In some cases these same employers have altered payslips and underpaid hourly rates in order to disguise the number of hours the student has worked,” Ms James said.

“I would like to reassure international students that in line with an agreement between my agency and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, you can seek our assistance without fear of your visa being cancelled, even if you’ve worked more hours than you should have under your visa.”

The conduct against international students the Fair Work Ombudsman sees is often serious and highly exploitative.

This is reflected by the large percentage of cases the Fair Work Ombudsman files in court that involve one or more international students, despite the low numbers of international students reporting issues to the agency.

Last financial year, 49 per cent of litigations the Fair Work Ombudsman filed in court involved a visa holder – over a third of these involving an international student.

Research commissioned by the Fair Work Ombudsman found that many international students were not aware of their rights under Australian workplace laws and did not know where to go for help.

Some students told researchers they had been subject to intimidation by their employers, who threatened to deport or “blacklist” them for future work if they complained.

“The research showed that when it comes to international students in the Australian workplace, 60 per cent believe that if they report a workplace issue to their employer the situation will either remain the same, or get worse,” Ms James said.

“Our international student strategy focuses on raising international students’ awareness of their workplace rights and letting them know that they can come to the Fair Work Ombudsman for free advice and assistance.

“We know that it can be difficult to understand what is right or wrong at work, or to speak up if you are concerned.

“This is why we are committed to making it as easy as possible for international students to access the help they need,” Ms James said.

Ms James encourages all international students to get informed by visiting the Fair Work Ombudsman website, which has information available in 30 different languages.

Resources available on the website to help workers understand their rights and entitlements include the Pay and Conditions Tool at www.fairwork.gov.au/pay, which can be used to calculate the correct pay rates that apply to their work.

The Fair Work Ombudsman also recently launched its popular Anonymous Report function in 16 languages other than English, enabling non-English speakers to report potential workplace breaches in their own language, without being identified. The tool can be accessed at www.fairwork.gov.au/inlanguageanonymousreport.

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s ‘Record My Hours’ app is aimed at tackling the persistent problem of underpayment of young workers and migrant workers around the country. The app, which equips workers with a record of the time they spend at their workplace by using geofencing technology to register when they arrive at work and when they leave, is available for download from iTunes or Google Play stores.

International students seeking assistance can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or our Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50.

Below is a list of some recent matters investigated by the Fair Work Ombudsman involving international students:

ISANA International Education Association Inc
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