Engaging with industry, unions, government, academia and others helps us identify opportunities to improve and deliver the best services for the community. We value the findings, ideas and views of all stakeholders.
Working with government
Consulting and collaborating across government, to leverage all programs and laws, builds compliance throughout Australia and reduces regulatory burden on the community. In 2015-16 we:
- tackled allegations of worker exploitation involving temporary visa holders as a foundation member of Taskforce Cadena, by presenting four times at the senate inquiry into temporary work visa holders and participating in the Protecting Vulnerable Visa Holders Ministerial Working Group
- continued to work on detecting and deterring fraudulent phoenix behaviour through the Inter-Agency Phoenix Forum and the Phoenix Taskforce - a businesswoman involved in phoenixing was penalised $97 920 in a FWO litigation decided during the year
- assisted in the transition of Norfolk Island into the national workplace relations system with the Department of Infrastructure, the Department of Employment and other key agencies
- participated in the Small Business and Franchising Consultative Committee, established by the ACCC, to address issues affecting the small business and franchising sectors under competition and consumer law
- coordinated joined-up activities and strategies with other government agencies through the Federal Regulatory Agency Group, convened by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman
- assessed 463 entities employing 752 temporary skilled work visa holders, referring 107 entities to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) due to concerns that the 138 workers involved were not receiving their nominated salary and performing the nominated position in their visa.
Under Taskforce Cadena, the FWO and Australian Border Force coordinated surprise record-keeping audits at karaoke bars in Melbourne and Perth. Back-payments of $40 000 and adherence to payslip obligations has since been sought, with compliance and infringement notices issued.
Finding solutions together
Leveraging others’ expertise and insight maximises our impact and results in better services for the public. In 2015-16 we:
- contributed to University of Melbourne research on the FWO’s approach to non-compliance in supply chains, and sought input from specialist academics and major corporate bodies to develop the FWO Supply Chain Strategy
- partnered with the University of Melbourne Law School to conduct research into Australian businesses’ perceptions of the FWO’s general deterrence strategies
- co-designed a Hairdressing Assist tool with customers from the industry
- tested modern award application with unions and employer associations via Knowledge Connect
- held workshops with participants in the personal services (nannies and au pairs) sector to discuss workplace issues
- consulted with key industry associations, peak bodies and chambers of commerce to design, develop and deliver four national and 16 regional education and compliance campaigns
- presented at events, including to industry, unions and academia, such as those organised by the Australian Labour and Employment Relations Association, Australian Industry Group and the Centre for Employment and Labour Relations Law
- developed an Anonymous Report tool with assistance from the ATO's Co-design Centre, enabling the community to flag potential workplace issues and unlawful practices without personal identification.
Working with intermediaries
Engaging with diverse community networks and intermediaries helps us reach and assist those most fearful of approaching government bodies and susceptible to exploitation. In 2015-16 we:
- established the Migrant Worker Strategy and Engagement Branch to coordinate effective compliance, education and engagement activities for visa workers
- hosted roundtables with Chinese business leaders and media to inform and launch our Chinese Engagement Strategy, which guides effective education for the sector about workplace rights and obligations
- worked with an in-language specialist to develop Chinese resources, including a dedicated web page, information booklet and a range of ‘quick guides’
- participated in secondments at community and legal centres, including Marrickville Legal Centre and JobWatch
- presented at the 2015 International Education Providers Forum and the Melbourne Chinese Masonic Society, where information was provided in English and Mandarin
- participated in the Melbourne Law School’s Migrant Worker Campaign Steering Group.
Assisting small business
Making compliance easier for small business, who are often time-poor and have limited human resource expertise, helps them focus on being successful, creating jobs and contributing to Australia’s economy. In 2015-16 we:
- hosted and took part in a number of multi-agency webinars, presentations and expos including with the ATO, ASIC and the ACCC
- hosted our third Small Business Forum where we identified opportunities to engage and collaborate with intermediaries in the sector
- provided information and advice at events including those organised by the state Small Business Commissioners, the Association of Accounting Technicians, Small Enterprise Association of Australia and New Zealand, and at the National Small Business Summit, Business-to-Business Expo, Migrant Small Business Expo in Brisbane and Adelaide, and Clare Small Business Forum
- participated in the ATO-led ‘Small Business Fix-It Squads’, which bring together small business owners, industry and government to solve problems that arise when running a business.