Mei had been working for a small business in regional Victoria for three years. This business had sponsored her on a regional working visa to come to Shepparton. Mei experienced bulling and discrimination from her employer, who would threaten to cancel her sponsorship and ‘send Mei home’ if she complained. Mei was also being underpaid. She was feeling stressed and anxious, suffering from poor mental health as a result of her treatment at work and feeling like she was trapped in the situation.
Mei was worried if she broke the contract with her employer, she might lose her visa. She looked on the internet and asked her friends if they knew where she could get help. She found the Job Watch website and called their helpline in Melbourne. Job Watch quickly referred Mei to Goulburn Valley Community Legal Centre and she was able to have an appointment with one of our lawyers the next day.
Mei had taken sick leave from work because she was suffering significant anxiety. Our lawyer helped her to submit a Workcover Claim which meant Mei could remain on leave and receive her entitlements. The lawyer checked in regularly with Mei to make sure she was doing okay. She also calculated how much Mei had been underpaid in the three years she had been working with this employer, and successfully advocated for Mei to be back-paid close to $10,000. Mei said that this helped to alleviate the financial stress she was experiencing on top of her other mental health concerns.
Things are starting to get better for Mei now. She hopes to find a new job or possibly return to study. “The last year three years have been really tough” she said, “to be able to move on will be a big relief, and to have the choice to choose where I work”. Mei said our lawyer was “patient and helpful” and she would recommend that other workers on sponsored visas seek assistance if they are treated unfairly.