Executive Briefings

Australian Slavery Inquiry Told Fruit Pickers 'Brainwashed' and Trapped in Debt

A Malaysian journalist who went undercover to expose exploitation in Victoria's fruit picking industry said workers were "brainwashed" with religion and trapped in debt to keep them on farms.

Australian Slavery Inquiry Told Fruit Pickers 'Brainwashed' and Trapped in Debt

Saiful Hasam, a reporter with Utusan Malaysia, gave evidence to a modern slavery inquiry last month, speaking of the "thousand sad stories" he heard during his two weeks at a fruit farm in Swan Hill, in northern Victoria.

Fruit pickers, often working illegally, were lured to Australia with promises of high incomes, Hasam said. When they arrived, they were paid a pittance, kept in overcrowded homes with exorbitant rent and effectively trapped in debt bondage.

Hasam warned the inquiry the exploitation was still occurring on a significant scale.

Hasam arrived in Australia last year, posing as a fruit picker who was prepared to work illegally.

He was paid $110 for 24 hours work over four days. About $80 went to pay rent in a small home he shared with 11 other workers, mostly from Malaysia. He was short-changed $10 by his contractor, leaving him with just $20.

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Saiful Hasam, a reporter with Utusan Malaysia, gave evidence to a modern slavery inquiry last month, speaking of the "thousand sad stories" he heard during his two weeks at a fruit farm in Swan Hill, in northern Victoria.

Fruit pickers, often working illegally, were lured to Australia with promises of high incomes, Hasam said. When they arrived, they were paid a pittance, kept in overcrowded homes with exorbitant rent and effectively trapped in debt bondage.

Hasam warned the inquiry the exploitation was still occurring on a significant scale.

Hasam arrived in Australia last year, posing as a fruit picker who was prepared to work illegally.

He was paid $110 for 24 hours work over four days. About $80 went to pay rent in a small home he shared with 11 other workers, mostly from Malaysia. He was short-changed $10 by his contractor, leaving him with just $20.

Read Full Article

Australian Slavery Inquiry Told Fruit Pickers 'Brainwashed' and Trapped in Debt