Migrant and Refugee Employment Law Project

For many newly arrived workers, sustainble employment forms the heart of successful resettlement. It provides financial security, social connections, self-esteem and independence. However, for a variety of reasons which have been well documented, migrant workers are more vulnerable to exploitation at work. They are often underpaid, unfairly dismissed, injured at work and subject to workplace bullying and discrimination.

WEstjustice's Migrant and Refugee Employment Law Project seeks to improve employment outcomes for migrant workers by increasing job readiness and access to decent and safe work. We do this by educating and empowering migrants and refugees experiencing disadvantage to better understand and enforce their workplace rights and responsibilities through legal assistance, education and capacity building, and systemic change.

After extensive consultation, the project started in 2014 with a focus on newly arrived and refugee workers, and later incorporated a specific focus on international students via our partnership in delivering the International Students Work Rights Legal Service. Over the last 7 years the Migrant and Refugee Employment Law Project has delivered the following:

  • Assisted over 700 migrant and refugee workers from around 60 countries to recover over $750,000 of unpaid wages and entitlements, unpaid invoices, debt avoided and compensation for unfair treatment.

We also achieved significant non-financial practical outcomes including helping clients to keep jobs, increase hours at work and get new jobs, and restorative justice outcomes including recognition and apologies, employers undergoing training to prevent future unlawful conduct, changing practices in workplaces and helping clients get assistance with other legal and non-legal issues.

This work has substantially increased knowledge and awareness of employment laws and services, and ultimately the ability to comply with responsibilities and enforce rights at work.

Evidence gathered through these activities has informed our advocacy work, including numerous submissions to government inquiries, feedback to government agencies and statutory bodies and academics, along with our major Policy Report: Not Just Work - Ending the exploitation of refugee and migrant workers, which argued for:

  • Improved laws and processes to stop wage theft and sham contracting
  • Reform of unfair dismissal and discrimination processes to better support vulnerable workers
  • Increased accountability in labour hire, supply chains and franchises
  • Better protections for temporary migrant workers
  • Greater resourcing for targeted legal education, culturally responsive assistance and the linking of vulnerable workers to key services

The full report can be downloaded here.

We continue to build on this report to advocate for improved laws and services for all migrant workers, and all vulnerable workers. Explore our law reform submissions here.

Currently we are limited to providing legal assistance and education to international students and young people (aged 12-25).



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WE are located

  • Footscray
  • Werribee
  • Sunshine

Level 1 / 72 Buckley Street, Footscray VIC 3011

Tel: + 61 3 9749 7720
Fax: + 61 3 9749 8276
Email:  admin@westjustice.org.au

Office hours:
Monday to Friday, 9.30am-1.00pm and 2:00pm-5:00pm. (Office currently closed due to COVID-19 situation)

Please call us to get legal help (appointment time needed).


Level 1 / 8 Watton Street, Werribee VIC 3030

Tel: + 61 3 9749 7720
Fax: + 61 3 9749 8276
Email:  admin@westjustice.org.au

Office hours:
Monday to Friday, 9.00am-5:00pm. (Office currently closed due to COVID-19 situation)

Please call us to get legal help (appointment time needed).


Visy Cares Hub, 80B Harvester Road, Sunshine VIC 3020

Tel: + 61 3 9091 8237
Fax: + 61 3 9091 8207
Email:  admin@westjustice.org.au

Office hours:
Monday, Wednesday & Friday, 9.30am-1.00pm and 2.00pm-4.30pm.

Drop-in service on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 9.30am-4.30pm, for people up to 25 years old ONLY.