SBS Radio uncovers migrant labour exploitation in Melbourne eateries

Staff Writer

Vietnamese restaurants across west and south east Melbourne offer no more than $10 per hour to migrant workers, according to an exclusive investigation led by SBS Radio’s Vietnamese program.

The inquiry began after a social media post from a Vietnamese student sharing their experience working at a Melbourne-based restaurant attracted hundreds of comments from others in the community claiming to have had similar experiences.

“When students started to contact the program with similar or worse experiences, we felt that it was our responsibility to examine and raise awareness of this important issue so that it can be addressed,” said Trinh Nguyen, SBS Radio Vietnamese digital producer.

An undercover job seeker sought work at more than 20 Vietnamese restaurants. Her experience revealed that most of these restaurant owners refused to discuss wages upon employment of staff, while one staff member at a restaurant advised the undercover job seeker that she shouldn’t question wages if she wanted to remain employed.


Students also revealed to SBS Radio the extent of financial fraudulence that some establishments are willing to take in order to reduce costs. According to students, some restaurateurs maintain two financial diaries, with forged data on the number of employees being supplied for ATO purposes.

Aware of the prevalence of labour exploitation, the Fair Work Ombudsman was quick to acknowledge the seriousness of the matter.

A spokesperson said: “The Agency is focused on ensuring more is done to ensure culturally and linguistically diverse business operators understand and comply with Australian workplace laws. We understand that there are cultural challenges and vastly different laws in other parts of the world, but want to increase awareness that it is essential that all businesses operating in Australia understand and apply Australian laws.”

A comprehensive report on the full investigation is available at the SBS Radio Vietnamese website.

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