In Part Two of Australian Story‘s profile of Rosie Ayliffe the UK mum lobbies for a central register of certified farms and hostels and a safe farm-work scheme.
When you do this kind of work that that we have to do to get the second-year visa you encounter a lot of bad stuff. Djuro, backpacker
The farmer kind of went down a back sort of side road. I got out of the car, ended up kind of falling backwards into a ditch. He came around the truck and got on top of me.Chelsey, backpacker
You can’t say that we’ve actually made progress until these stories stop coming in. It’s all still happening and while it’s all still happening, I’m not prepared to stop. Rosie Ayliffe
When Rosie Ayliffe’s daughter, Mia Ayliffe-Chung, was murdered last August in a backpackers’ hostel in north Queensland it made headlines around the world.
The 20-year-old from Derbyshire was allegedly stabbed by a French backpacker, Smail Ayad, who also allegedly murdered the man who came to her aid, British backpacker Tom Jackson.
Mia and Tom were both undertaking 88 days of farm work in order to extend their 417 visas for a second year.
Their parents knew little about the scheme when their children embarked upon it but say they later discovered widespread financial, sexual and psychological abuse of the young travellers who signed up for it.
Not long after her daughter’s death, Rosie Ayliffe began a media campaign highlighting what she sees as the scheme’s shortcomings and demanding greater government oversight.
In May this year, after becoming frustrated by the lack of change on the ground, she decided to come to Australia to talk directly to people involved in the industry.
Australian Story followed her on that journey as she met farmers, backpackers and politicians to discuss problems and solutions.
One female backpacker, Chelsey, told Rosie she had been sexually assaulted by a farmer who went on to assault another backpacker. He was convicted but not put on the sex offenders’ register.
Numerous backpackers told her how they went to hostels on the promise of work when there was none, ending up in debt.
A resident in one small town told her that some farmers demand “sex for sign off”, refusing to certify the 88 days’ work unless the traveller agrees to perform sexual acts.
Rosie also made an emotional visit to the hostel where Mia died, hearing distressing details of her daughter’s last moments. “Even with chest injuries, even after a blow to the heart, Mia was still fighting for her life,” says said. “I took the experience from Home Hill with me for the rest of the journey.”
During the trip Rosie became convinced of the need to immediately create a website to help direct young travellers to safe farms and hostels.
But that is only an interim measure. This week she is in Australia to lobby for greater government action, for the creation of a central register of certified farms and hostels and for a safe and fair 88-day farm-work scheme.
8pm Monday on ABC.