Migrant Employment Legal Service launched in Sydney
A new $1.6 million statewide project will provide free legal assistance to help thousands of short-term migrants recover wages owed to them by bosses who have withheld fair entitlements.
Launched earlier this week by NSW attorney-general Mark Speakman, the Migrant Employment Legal Service (MELS) is a joint initiative of four Sydney-based community legal centres: Inner City Legal Centre, Redfern Legal Centre, Kingsford Legal Centre and Marrickville Legal Centre.
“These four CLCs have a long history of helping some of the most vulnerable people in our community to solve legal problems before they snowball into potentially life-altering crises,” Mr Speakman said.
“For migrants and temporary visa holders, MELS offers free legal advice, representation and community legal education if you’ve been ripped off by your employer or unfairly dismissed.”
Mr Speakman said the participating CLCs have hired two workers fluent in relevant languages, who will work closely with the Fair Work Ombudsman, Legal Aid NSW and migrant groups.
“Every employee in Australia should be paid what they’re owed, and this project will go a long way towards holding to account employers who exploit their workers,” Mr Speakman said.
Acting minister for multiculturalism Geoff Lee added that this initiative plays an important part in helping multicultural communities.
“Temporary migrants make a significant contribution to the NSW economy, making up 11 per cent of the national workforce,” he said.
“The project will offer on the ground help to underpaid workers with the provision of free legal advice to almost a thousand people a year. In NSW we want to ensure our migrant and multicultural communities aren’t exploited.”