Tasmania’s reputation takes a blow by association

Tasmania's reputation as a seasonal work destination is suffering


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APPLE SEASON: Picking at Tasmanian orchards begins soon, with growers worried about finding workers. Picture: Brodie Weeding

APPLE SEASON: Picking at Tasmanian orchards begins soon, with growers worried about finding workers. Picture: Brodie Weeding

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Primary Industries minister Jeremy Rockliff says Tasmania still has a good reputation with international backpackers.

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Allegations of “modern day slavery” that have affected Australia’s reputation with the international backpacker community have, in turn, impacted attitudes towards Tasmania.

Backpacker slavery, sexual abuse and exploitation are claimed in upcoming documentary 88 Days, with Fruit Growers Tasmania business development officer Phil Pyke saying “nobody wants to deal with it”.

English filmmaker Katherine Stoner writes on her website that “there are many stories online of travellers losing body parts, collapsing and getting sexually assaulted on farms in Australia”.

“I myself have seen and experienced some of these atrocities first hand. The rest of the world needs to realise backpackers from across the world, from Britain to Europe to America, are being exploited, and their lives put in danger,” Ms Stoner said.

An Australian government spokesperson said a registry for employers of working holiday makers was established in response to concerns about exploitation.

“The Australian government is committed to the protection of vulnerable workers and stamping out exploitation by unscrupulous employers,” the spokesperson said.

Other initiatives include the Policy to Protect Vulnerable Workers and the Migrant Workers Taskforce.

Primary Industries minister Jeremy Rockliff said Tasmania still had a good relationship with backpacker who travelled to the state for seasonal work.

“My understanding is that Tasmania has a very strong and good reputation of embracing people from around the world, wherever they come from, to support our agricultural sector, particularly at this time of the year,” Mr Rockliff said.

“If you were a visitor to Australia, what better place could you be than in Tasmania working in the beautiful sunshine in a cherry orchard, or other areas of opportunity across horticulture. We have a very good reputation of treating our employees, wherever they come from, very well indeed,” he said.

The Examiner.

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