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Long Way from Home Part 2 - Transcript

PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT: Monday, 17 July , 2017


LYDIA CARR, MIA’S FRIEND: Mia had always wanted to go travelling. She’d started referring to Australia as home.

JESSE TAWHI, MIA’S FRIEND: Mia had to do 88 days of farm work if she wanted to stay another year in Australia.

CHRIS PORTER, MIA’S FRIEND:We was only there for about a week. It was very small. Never been to somewhere like that before in my life.

ROSIE AYLIFFE: I think Mia was anxious during that week.

Newsreader: A 21-year-old British woman has been stabbed to death at a backpackers’ hostel in Australia.

Reporter: Tom Jackson will be remembered as a hero. The 30-year-old was stabbed more than 20 times.

Reporter: Police allege 29-year-old French national Smail Ayad went on a stabbing rampage.

ROSIE AYLIFFE:I t just came out of nowhere - astonishing terrifying and devastating.

STEWART CORMACK, ROSIE’S PARTNER: I understand that it’s difficult to lose a child in any circumstances, but when it’s your only child and you’re a single parent it’s your entire world that’s gone. Rosie started to understand that there were problems with the 88-day visa system.

ROSIE AYLIFFE: There is a dark side. People can find themselves at risk. There’s a message here that I’ve received from a backpacker who is suffering from sexual harassment.
I want to see reform of the system

ROSIE AYLIFFE: I’m at the point now where I feel I should go out to Australia and find out for myself what’s going on. There have been a couple of moments of acute anxiety where I thought that the trip to Australia might be too much for me but we shall see.


STEWART CORMACK, ROSIE’S PARTNER: When Rosie was deciding to go to Australia I understood completely why she needed to go and I’m right behind her. She needs to do this. She’s partly finding herself on it as well.

ROSIE AYLIFFE: Arriving in Townsville, it was difficult for me because just the geographical location had an impact that I wasn’t expecting. On an emotional level, it’s more difficult than I thought it would be because I feel Mia everywhere. The idea of going to Home Hill, it’s just venturing into the unknown really, and obviously that’s going to be difficult for me. But it’s something I have to do and its part of my, kind of, my healing process.

STEWART CORMACK, ROSIE’S PARTNER: Rosie decided to plant some trees for Tom and Mia next to the ones that the community had already planted. They’d planted two trees there.

NANCY NOTZON, ABC NEWS: The Home Hill community was devastated by the deaths of Tom and Mia. It seemed like everyone was in shock, including the owners of the hostel where the incident had happened. Donations of food came in, donations of clothing. About a week or so after there was a service was held attended by hundreds of members of the community. The mayor spoke and she said they would never forget Tom and Mia.

STEWART CORMACK: The drive to Home Hill was quite something, nothing like the rolling hills of Derbyshire.

ROSIE AYLIFFE (DRIVING): I’m feeling 1930s America already, that’s what I’m feeling, the cane fields of the deep south.

ROSIE AYLIFFE: I wanted to leave something bright and positive something that represented peace and tranquillity. I really didn’t know what I was doing in terms of gardening I hadn’t seen the space so I just bought as many plants as I could find that I thought would look nice together. And then I thought when we arrived in the place, how am I going to dig this bed? And then backpackers started to arrive and to help me and it all just worked. The guys who helped me plant the garden spoke about one of the hostels they’d been to.

(Conversation between a backpacker and Rosie)
Backpacker: I called the owner, the owner says to me, “Oh, there are a lot of work and between two and three weeks you can work”.
Rosie: Yeah. How long ….
Backpacker: For one month and I worked just one day, so I think that you want just our money.
(Conversation ends)

ROSIE AYLIFFE: Although I’d spoken to many backpackers through social media these were the first backpackers I’d actually spoken to in Australia and their story was very familiar to me, They’d been attracted to the hostel on the promise of work and found that there was no work available. I went to the local pub that night to buy the guys a drink as a thank you and we met some of the locals.

(Conversation in pub)
Rosie: While I know you need the kids to do what they are doing in the fields. I want the system regulated better so that’s what I am doing I’m campaigning for change.
Man: It needs to.
Rosie: It needs to be changed.
(Conversation ends)

ROSIE AYLIFFE: As long as their employers are given the power to sign them off there will be risks involved and that’s the issue. I went back to Home Hill the following day and met a local. What he told me was quite horrifying actually.

JOHN WHITE , LOCAL RESIDENT: A lot of the workers, especially the girls, they go to work on the farms and they get this, they have to be here for a certain time and then they get the paperwork. But unless some of the farmers, they wanna have sex with the girls so that they get their paperwork. If they don’t do it you haven’t got a job.

STEWART CORMACK, ROSIE’S PARTNER Rosie checked in with me most days either via Skype or on the phone.
(Skype call)
Rosie: They said the farmers made them have sex with them before they agreed to sign them off. So we knew that was happening but it was just the fact that he told me and I’m here and I heard it with my own ears and you know it was quite shocking really.

STEWART CORMACK, ROSIE’S PARTNER: Rosie was upset when she heard some of these stories but she did feel vindicated.

ROSIE AYLIFFE (DRIVING): I’m just on my way to a farm that Mia worked for one day and I’m gonna meet the farmer.

STEWART CORMACK, ROSIE’S PARTNER Because Mia’s alleged killer hasn’t stood trial Rosie knows very few details of the last days of Mia’s life. So she really wanted to find out as much as she could.

(Conversation between Lorraine and Rosie)
Lorraine Gorizio: OK Rosie, this is what Mia was doing for me and the other young girl. These are what we call our watering tubes …
Rosie: Aha
Lorraine Gorizio: with the black cup at the end. The girls would check this for me
(Conversation ends)

ROSIE AYLIFFE: I think Lorraine developed a connection with Mia and I think Mia saw Lorraine as a potential rescuer. Lorraine took me for a drive around the farm and she told me about how Mia had been frightened of Ayad.

LORRAINE GORIZIO (DRIVING WITH ROSIE): I can’t explain it more but she was frightened to go in there. I don’t know what he, she didn’t tell me exactly what he was doing, but she said he was following her and sneaking up on her and really wouldn’t leave her alone and it must have been very too much close, if you know what I mean. That must have been what was happening there, so God knows.

ROSIE AYLIFFE: It was difficult to hear that from Lorraine. You do wonder how things could have been different. But the whole point of the visit to Home Hill was to find out what happened and to find as much detail as I could.
It’s now Monday morning and I’m going to visit Home Hill hostel and to be perfectly honest I feel strong and I feel calm I really didn’t expect to feel like that but I feel really happy about the fact that I am going at last to see the place where Mia died.

STEWART CORMACK, ROSIE’S PARTNER: The police showed Rosie where Mia had stayed in the dorm with Chris Porter and Ayad her alleged killer. And where Mia died, the bathroom where she’d died. Rosie wasn’t permitted to film there so she had to record her thoughts.

ROSIE AYLIFFE (INSIDE HOME HILL HOSTEL): It’s not easy. I’m sitting in the cubicle where Mia died and apparently she fought for her life. Even with chest injuries, even after a blow to the heart, Mia was still fighting for her life. And that, you know, that says it all, you know. And all I can think about is Mia and Tom, and Tom taking those blows for Mia. I’m here to be with Mia so I’m going to be quiet for a minute and just be at one with Mia and think about her last minutes.

ROSIE AYLIFFE: She absolutely didn’t bleed at all, so that she died of internal injuries but there were, was no blood. And that’s something - I remember Mia’s birth as if it was yesterday. And Mia came out squeaky clean. She came out as clean as a pin and she went the same way, you know. And between those two times, she washed herself constantly, she was constantly taking showers, and it’s almost like she was the cleanest person in the world. She was born clean and she died clean and she fought for her life until the very last minute, from the sound of it.

NANCY NOTZON, ABC NEWS: Smail Ayad was charged with the murders of Mia Ayliffe-Chung and Tom Jackson and he’s in custody in a Brisbane jail. It was reported that he may have had a schizophrenic episode at the time of the alleged murders and his mental health is being assessed

ROSIE AYLIFFE: I took the experience from Home Hill with me for the rest of the journey. It’s all so personal to me and I’m never going to shake that. I am closer to the point where I’m thinking actually that’s something I have to lay to rest. I need to move on.

STEWART CORMACK, ROSIE’S PARTNER : Over the following week Rosie was able to concentrate on the campaign and to find out what people really thought about the 88 days - the people on the ground.

ROSIE AYLIFFE: So here I am in central Bundaberg, the backpacking centre of the town. We’ve got hostels here, we’ve got a hostel right here and a hostel behind us.

ALISON RAHILL, THE SALVATION ARMY, FREEDOM PARTNERSHIP For the past two years the team that I work with have been campaigning for safe and fair farm work.
So when I first heard of Rosie’s story and what she was trying to do with her campaign I was incredibly moved. It takes so much strength to be able to take that grief and try and turn it into something positive. There a number of ways that backpackers can get work but the most common way is to go to a working hostel and try and find work that way or sign up with a labour contractor

GRACE GRACE, QLD MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS: We need to have some laws that are not only licensing these operators but really we need to act on a national scale to ensure that we do what we can to stop any exploitative practises happening.

ALISON RAHILL, THE SALVATION ARMY, FREEDOM PARTNERSHIP: I think it would be fair to say that Rosie has some scepticism about whether the labour hire licensing laws will actually make a difference.

ROSIE AYLIFFE: The issue is enforcement that’s where things will succeed or fail.

ALISON RAHILL, THE SALVATION ARMY, FREEDOM PARTNERSHIP Rosie wanted to meet with farmers to hear what they had to say.

ALLAN MAHONEY, BUNDABERG FRUIT AND VEG GROWERS ASSOCIATION, CHAIR: Backpacker labour to our industry we wouldn’t survive without it.
ALISON RAHILL (FARM MEETING): What do farmers think of working hostels? Is it like because there is no way around them.
ALLAN MAHONEY (FARM MEETING): Necessary evil mainly. We need a labour force and it’s that simple. We need a labour force and usually you’ve tried through local workforces

ROSIE AYLIFFE: The 417 visa holders are a rather huge percentage, something like a third of the entire workforce in the agricultural sector. They’re pretty much essential to your economy.

ALLAN MAHONEY: Backpacker hostels are your next choice. Most of them now have deals with labour contractors unfortunately.

ROSIE AYLIFFE: Allan was intensely critical of labour hire contractors.

ALLAN MAHONEY (FARM MEETING): You’ve got the absolute scum of the earth taking on they so they can take a dollar that they haven’t worked for work they haven’t put their hand to, right, which is disgusting. It’s happened for years, everybody knows it’s happened for years, and it’s only getting worse

ALISON RAHILL, THE SALVATION ARMY, FREEDOM PARTNERSHIP So Rosie thinks it’s a good idea to have a website that backpackers can go to find a fair and a safe farm to work at and a good working hostel to stay in.

ROSIE (FARM MEETING): How do I extricate the fact from the fiction? How do I know whether a hostel owner is reviewing his own farm or hostel and paying young people to review the hostel? I just don’t know how to do it.

ALLAN MAHONEY, BUNDABERG FRUIT AND VEG GROWERS ASSOCIATION; You’ve got to do the miles, Rosie, honestly, you’ve got to do the miles and educate yourself before you can educate others. Come out here.

ROSIE AYLIFFE: That what I said, that’s what I’ve said I’ve got to come out here, haven’t I, and do it myself. That is my trip, that is my life. We chatted about the role of central government and how they could perhaps set up a register and distribute backpackers to certified farms and he didn’t really share my view on that.

ALLAN MAHONEY: It’s not the government’s issue. it just isn’t. It’s not their issue, honestly, we’re talking about a diverse

ROSIE AYLIFFE: It’s their program though, but it’s their program. They’re insisting these youngsters do their 88 days so it is their issue. If they want them to do this they’ve got to manage it.

ALLAN MAHONEY: Hundreds of thousands are getting through the 417 and 88 days safely. There’s a percentage that aren’t and I believe, I understand, we need to protect that percentage but there needs to be some self-teaching here before they even get here.

ALLAN MAHONEY, BUNDABERG FRUIT AND VEG GROWERS ASSOCIATION: It’s not belittling Rosie’s feelings in any way but sometimes the fight’s too big. I encourage her to keep going but she’ll end up the same as me, just frustrated with this industry.

ROSIE AYLIFFE: Later that evening I headed down to Childers to meet another backpacker called Djuro. I’d already considered what Allan was suggesting, that the website was a big job for one person, so my idea was to begin to recruit people along the way who could do some of the research for me, just as I had in the past researched rough guides in my youth.

DJURO VUKOTIC, BACKPACKER: You know I had these images of how it would be and I’ve been seeing all these videos of people online and I was expecting a really good experience. But when you do this kind of work um that that we have to do to get the second-year visa you will encounter a lot of bad stuff.

HOMEVIDEO OF DJURO: So, it’s been three weeks sitting in a hostel doing nothing at all. People are waking up early in the morning doing nothing. People are broke. It’s $200 to live in the countryside in a little room, don’t have your own kitchen, don’t have your own space. For me it’s really annoying as it gets mentally disturbing to sit every day and do nothing.

ROSIE AYLIFFE: I talked to Djuro about the website and the possibility of him doing some research.

DJURO VUKOTIC, BACKPACKER: Now she is the one with the ideas but I am the one with the youth and I’ll be able to follow through on her ideas right.

ROSIE AYLIFFE: On this website, whether it’s set up by myself or whether it’s set up by the government, I would want young people to be able to access information about who can and can’t be trusted. I heard Chelsey’s story back in the UK. I think her story proves the point

CHELSEY, BACKPACKER: I got here in September of 2015. I started in Brisbane just kind of enjoying being on holiday and being in Australia for the first time. Then I moved to Mildura to start my farm work. Went five weeks without work. I was then presented with the option of going to a farm. The farmer had specifically only requested females from the hostel.

ROSIE AYLIFFE: She’d only been there for a few days and she stayed back for a drink with her employer.

CHELSEY, BACKPACKER: And I said you know I have to be back to the hostel so we got in his truck and he started driving me back. He kind of went down a back sort of side road and he’s pulled over and he tried to kind of come at me. I got out of the car. I ended up kind of falling backwards into a ditch. He came round the truck and got on top of me when I was on the ground I crossed my legs as hard as I could, I had my arms covering me, he was reaching to kind of undo his pants and that was when I just started punching and kicking as hard as I could. I just remember screaming his name screaming for him to stop. He just sort of snapped out of it, he got back in the truck. He dropped me off at the hostel and I just crumbled. They told me at the time that it was just my word against his and I didn’t really have a strong case.

ROSIE AYLIFFE IN CAFÉ WITH CHELSEY Rosie: So, when you went to the police station what did they say to you what happened.

CHELSEY, BACKPACKER: Around Christmas time I got an email just saying that somebody else had come forward putting a complaint against the same person.

ROSIE AYLIFFE: A few months later a Dutch backpacker went to work for the same farmer and again was sexually assaulted and this time the police did press charges. He ended up in court. He took a guilty plea and he got a community service order. He was not put on the sex offenders’ register.

(Rosie to Chelsey): You are such a strong person. I so admire you

CHELSEY, BACKPACKER I don’t really want to show my face because I know it’s really easy these days, especially with social media and online, for people to victim blame.

ROSIE AYLIFFE: Chelsey is an impressive young woman and I talked to her about the possibility of her working for us researching

ROSIE AYLIFFE IN CAFÉ WITH CHELSEY Rosie: what I really want is for the government to take over and possibly set up their own website but as an interim measure this will, I think this could, if it’s good enough and if it’s comprehensive enough, it could fill that gap.

CHELSEY, BACKPACKER I think the 88-day farm work in theory could work if it was regulated to the point where people are making hourly wages at all of the jobs. You’re not paying people, you know, 40 cents for a vine. Where people are making a dollar an hour or two dollars an hour

ROSIE AYLIFFE: I was fortunate enough to gain access to some Federal MPs and to have the opportunity to bring up some of the issues. You know, I need to get the message out there.

(Rosie and Chris Crewther in Parliament House committee room)
Rosie: Yeah, but the 88 days is putting our young people at serious disadvantage.

ROSIE AYLIFFE: Members of the select committee on modern day slavery were very receptive to what I was saying.

(Rosie and Chris Crewther in Parliament House committee room)
Chris Crewther: Particularly around tied visas as well in terms of their employer having a sign off that’s something to look at as part of this inquiry
Rosie: I’m here because I’ve uncovered what’s happening what’s happening on a and it seems to me to be systemic it is a majority of workplaces.
Senator Linda Reynolds: I think it’s going to be quite a revelation for Australians to see what’s going on right under our noses

SENATOR LINDA REYNOLDS: Today, every year, Australia welcomes 320,000 young people from across the globe to pick almost all of our fruit and our vegetables and to keep our hospitality industry going, because they're doing jobs that Australians just simply won't do anymore. We’ve got to make sure that we make the experience good for them to stay here because the bottom line is we need them far more than they need us.

ROSIE AYLIFFE: I’d driven a good 3000 kilometres and taken on board some quite harrowing stories so I was really looking forward to arriving in Byron Bay and spending some time with some of Mia’s friends. Byron was special to Mia, she loved going there.

CHRIS PORTER, MIA’S FRIEND: The last time I see Rosie was the memorial back in the UK for Mia. She’s a massive part of my life now. I feel like she’s like a mother type figure. A bit of a guardian kind of a thing, you know that’s how I see her.

JESSE TAWHI, MIA’S FRIEND: I don’t think a lot of people are aware of what’s going on and what happens. I definitely wasn’t. So, I think it’s important that, you know, Rosie spreads the word.

ROSIE AYLIFFE: I’m heading home to the UK tomorrow but I’m planning to return to Australia in order to step up the campaign. Emotionally I’ve been through the wringer. I need a break now. Progress has been made in terms of the campaign, however I woke up this morning and there’s another account on social media about a hostel in Bowen. Young people are in serious debt, no work and dealing with asbestos on the premises - really quite harrowing stuff. And sexual assault thrown in there, to boot, you know, so you can’t say that we’ve actually made any progress until these stories stop coming in. It’s all still happening and while it’s all still happening, I’m not prepared to stop.