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After decades of being treated as "disposable" by employers, this report shines a light on young worker exploitation in Canberra.

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Exploitation of young workers in Canberra is a business model, with 76 percent of young workers experiencing wage theft. 
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The unavoidable conclusions of this report are:

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The exploitation of young workers in Canberra has become routine and is no longer confined to a few rogue employers.

UnionsACT surveyed over 260 young people in Canberra in 2017.

  1. Exploitation of young workers is far too prevalent.
  2. Protections in the Fair Work Act and ACT laws are not working.
  3. There is significant under-reporting by young workers.
  4. Women and queer-identifying young people experience greater levels of exploitation.
  5. Governments, including the ACT Government, are not doing enough.

Workers as young as fifteen have experienced severe exploitation, harassment and unsafe workplaces.

"My boss would bully me into working more hours and not pay me for them."

"My employer refused to increase my wage after I turned 15, and again after I turned 16 - they actually deducted $0.10c/ hour as a punishment."

"I've done about four different unpaid trial shifts. I was told I would be paid but I never was."

"5 days a week, 2 hours a day at a newsagency, for free! So they could "train" me."

The laws meant to protect young workers have failed.

The Fair Work laws at a Federal level, and the WHS Act and child protection laws in the ACT do not protect young workers. Wage-theft, exploitation and unsafe work practices is too easy, and penalties are too light. 

The legal avenues for young workers to access justice involve costly, drawn-out court processes that favour employers.

Change the Rules

Almost  eight in ten  young workers have experienced wage theft.

Young workers are saying that employers treat them as "disposable".

Fix the following errors: