Panel – Workplace Exploitation

Chair: Mary Ann Seow

Panelists: Fair Work Ombudsman Representative; Julie Doherty – NAGCAS; Bassina Farbenblum – Director, UNSW Human Rights Clinic; Sean Stimson – Redfern Legal Centre; Bijay Sapkota – President, Council of International Students Association (CISA)

Recent media coverage and research has exposed international student exploitation in the workplace, particularly in the hospitality, franchised retail and cleaning industries. Students are routinely hired by employers who exploit their lack of knowledge of Australian workplace laws. Students who are aware of their rights have also stated that they feel dis-empowered to act on exploitation. With increasing numbers of international students to Australia, the workplace exploitation of our future alumni does not augur well for Australia. Panel guests will explore the role of the student, education provider, government and support agencies in addressing this. Importantly, we will discuss how the sector can educate, collaborate and support our students.



A higher education specialist with over 18 years experience in the career education and student engagement sector. Management experience gained through leading a team of Career Development Consultants to deliver faculty based career sessions in addition to centrally based workshops and one to one consultations. Industry experience in co-ordinating careers fairs, employer presentations and panels. Experienced in a number of career development instruments. Committed to optimizing student’s engagement and employability skills to enable them to obtain internships, vacation work and graduate roles with confidence.



Bassina Farbenblum is a solicitor and Senior Lecturer at UNSW Law where she is the founding director of the UNSW Human Rights Clinic and the cross-institutional Migrant Worker Justice Initiative. Bassina has led national and global empirical research projects on temporary migrants in Australia, the US and Asia and was co-author of the recent landmark report on Wage Theft in Australia. Prior to academia, she worked as a human rights litigator and policy advisor at the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, the American Civil Liberties Union and other legal services organisations and private law firms in New York, Mumbai, and Sydney. Bassina’s current research focuses on work experiences, accommodation issues and access to redress by international students and other temporary migrants in Australia, as well as migrant worker recruitment and access to remedies in South and South East Asia. She was awarded the global Open Society Foundations International Migration Initiative Fellowship in recognition of her work with government and other organisations in Indonesia in relation to labour migration.

Solicitor Sean Stimson runs Redfern Legal Centre’s International Student Legal Service NSW, a free state-wide legal service funded by Study NSW to undertake casework, policy and advocacy, and media engagement to achieve law reform and address the legal needs of international students studying in NSW.  Sean’s background in business management also gives him a nuanced understanding of workforce issues from a corporate employment perspective. He is currently developing a mobile app-based advice platform with Redfern Legal Centre for international students in NSW, with the potential of an Australia-wide rollout


Mr. Bijay Sapkota is the National President of Council of International Students Australia(CISA).  CISA is the peak representative body for International students studying in Australia. He is studying Bachelors of Civil Engineering (Honors) at UTS. Bijay is also the member of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Council.
By virtue of Bijay’s engagement in youth affairs (humanitarian and multicultural) in Nepal and Australia, Bijay was awarded with NSW International Student of the Year 2016 (co-winner). He was also awarded with Youth Inspiration Award 2017 by Hon. Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, former President of Nepal in the Youth SAARC Regional Conference held in Kathmandu.

Brett Galt-Smith is Director of ESOS Policy and Legislation for Education Services for Overseas Students in the Quality Frameworks Branch of International Group in the Department of Education and Training. Brett’s team has had carriage of student workplace exploitation both in terms of support for the Migrant Workers’ Taskforce and also the work of the Council for International Education. Brett’s team also has policy responsibility for the ESOS Act, the National Code for Providers of Education to International Students, the ELICOS Standards and the Foundation Standards. Brett has been in the Australian public service since 2003 working in policy, program and stakeholder management roles. He has extensive experience in international relations policy and quality and regulation of international education; child care compliance; and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues.





ISANA International Education Association is the representative body for professionals in Australia and New Zealand who work in international student services, advocacy, teaching and policy development in international education. For more information, please visit the ISANA website.

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