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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 7099


Mr HAYES (Fowler) (16:10): Last Sunday, together with the member for Banks, I attended the launch of the Immigrant Workers Speak Out campaign, co-hosted by Asian Women at Work and the Immigrant Women's Speakout Association. The goal of this national campaign is to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Asian Women at Work, together with a number of other organisations who are members of the Network of Immigrants and Refugee Women in Australia, are bringing light to many of the challenges faced by migrant workers in Australia and are fighting for the protection of human rights of members of this highly disadvantaged and often exploited group.

Vivi Germanos-Koutsounadis, Chairperson of the Network of Immigrants and Refugee Women in Australia, and Lina Cabaero, Coordinator of Asian Women at Work, are some of the team leaders. They are a dedicated group of individuals who are passionate about providing a vital voice to this group of women whose rights are often sidelined.

There is no doubt that migrant workers are in a vulnerable position, with their human rights often the threat of exploitation. Due to language and cultural barriers, migrant women often face challenges in gaining employment and are often forced to take jobs which exploit their vulnerabilities. Due to the lack of choice and the lack of knowledge regarding fair and legal working conditions in Australia, many migrants, particularly women, accept employment as outworkers in often appalling conditions. As the Brotherhood of St Laurence found during their investigations, outworkers often work very long hours with delayed wages that tend to be much lower than the average rate of pay.

Asian Women at Work, which has many members living and working in my electorate of Fowler, provides a strong voice for women working in these conditions. The organisation is educating and advocating on behalf of vulnerable migrant women workers who are often isolated from information and support. This nation has come a long way in ensuring the protection of human rights for various groups within our society. Even though much progress has been made in protecting the human rights of migrant workers, this group remains one of the most vulnerable groups in our society. Ratifying the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families would be a positive step forward in ensuring the protection of human rights for all migrant workers because, at the end of the day, migrant rights are human rights.