Mother of murdered British backpacker 'knocked off her feet' by Australia farm work news – inews

Tue 30 Apr 2024
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The mother of a murdered British backpacker has described her relief at the news the 88-day farm work requirement for an Australian working holiday visa is set to be scrapped.
Rosie Ayliffe, who has been campaigning to change the scheme since her 20-year-old daughter was killed in Queensland, told i that she was “knocked off her feet” by the decision, which she called “good news for young people”.
British travellers under 35 will be allowed to live and work in Australia for three years without having to do agricultural work under the terms of a UK-Australia free trade deal. British visitors are currently required to carry out 88 days of work on a rural property if they want to stay in Australia for a second year on a working holiday visa.
The new deal – expected some time in 2022 – is set to end this requirement. But Ms Ayliffe said the announcement came five years too late for her daughter Mia Ayliffe-Chung, who was stabbed to death at a hostel where she was staying while working on a farm.
“She was horrified of the conditions at the hostel,” said Ms Ayliffe, 57, from Cromford in Derbyshire. “It was less the bricks and mortar of the place but more the hostile, febrile atmosphere. I could hear fear in her voice, she desperately didn’t want to do farm work.
“She was frightened and described it as a prison.”
UK-Australia trade deal hailed as a ‘new dawn’ – but critics warn it could drive farmers out of business
Mia was killed in a stabbing attack in front of dozens of backpackers at Home Hill hostel in northern Queensland on 23 August 2016. She was found dead at the scene. Fellow Briton Tom Jackson, 30, tried to stop the attack but was fatally wounded.
“It came as such a surprise,” Ms Ayliffe said of the decision. “I felt like the message had gone through, it’s going to be good news for young people.
“It’s happened five years too late for Mia and Tom, but it wouldn’t have happened without their deaths I don’t think, we wouldn’t have got through to the British government to consider putting that on the table.
“I’m really pleased it’s happening and I hope we can somehow get the message through to other world leaders that it’s time for change.”
Australian agriculture depends on 10,000 British backpackers a year to pick fruit and vegetables. However a new agriculture visa to allow British farmers to work in Australia is hoped to counteract the impact of the decision to end the working holiday scheme.
Ms Ayliffe said she hoped the visa requirement could be scrapped for all nationalities, saying this was “a start”.
She said that the connection between farm work and visa requirement creates an “imbalance of power” between employer and employees. She said that Europeans were often “naive” to the reality of dollar-an-hour work.
“Local people working in agriculture understand the weather better, the flora and fauna, they know what to do,” she said. “All of those things aren’t taken into account when you’re employing someone who just arrived from Europe. It’s safer to employ locals.”
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