Temporary Refugee and Migration Visas in Australia: An Occupational Health and Safety Hazard

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Employment and work-related exploitation and discrimination are important social determinants of health. However, little is known about the experiences of people on temporary visas in Australia, particularly those on refugee visas. This article reports on a study of people living on temporary visas in South Australia and their experiences of workforce exploitation and discrimination and impacts on health. Interviews were conducted with 30 people: 11 on non-refugee temporary visas and 19 on refugee temporary visas. Data was analyzed thematically. Analysis identified experiences of exploitation and discrimination in the Australian labor market that included difficulties securing work, underpayment, overwork, and hazardous workplaces. These experiences had negative health effects, particularly on mental health. None had made a formal complaint about their treatment, citing the precarity of their visas, difficulties finding an alternative job, and lack of knowledge about what to do. The impacts were especially evident for refugees who were also grappling with pre-settlement trauma and ongoing uncertainties about their future protection. Overall, these findings of discrimination and exploitation in the workplace and subsequent ill health highlight the pervasive impact of neoliberal agendas and stress the need for industrial, immigration, and welfare reform to protect workers on temporary visas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-544
Number of pages14
Issue number4
Early online date28 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • discrimination
  • exploitation
  • health inequities
  • migrant
  • refugee
  • temporary visa


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