Backpacker Paid $15 p/h Calls Police After Employer Withheld Passport

Published September 06, 2019 (last updated July 17, 2020) -

A backpacker has accused the owner of a Sunshine Coast tourist attraction of worker exploitation, after revealing that he was paid $15 per hour, almost $5 below the minimum wage.

According to the facility’s “Conditions of Stay” document, the employer requires people to work three hours per day in exchange for accommodation. The document states incorrectly that the “basic award is $15/hr”.

The document also asks workers to hand over their passport, a $500 deposit or “valuable items” in exchange for house keys.

The backpacker exposed the document after he called police after the employer tried to throw him off the property while still having the backpacker’s passport.

“He tried to physically throw me off the property while he still had my passport,” the backpacker said.

On only the second day at the property, the backpacker decided he wanted to leave. However, he was told to do some cleaning.

“I told him if you don’t give me my passport back now I’m going to call the police,” the backpacker said.

“I called the police and while I was on the phone he was screaming, ‘He’s lying, he’s lying!’, grabbing me on the arm and saying, ‘Get out my property!’ I couldn’t because he still had my passport.”

40 minutes the police arrived, and the backpacker found them to be unsympathetic to his cause.

“They told me they were both backpackers in the day and I shouldn’t have such high expectations,” the backpacker said. “I’ve travelled around the world, I know when something’s messed up.”

Queensland Police have confirmed that officers were called out to the property but haven’t taken any further action.

The owner, in a text to said that the backpacker wasn’t an ideal employee.

“(He) worked for about three hours and behaved badly. I evicted him and the (sic) called police confirmed the eviction and left. (He) stayed only one night but left a lot of mess behind. All has been witnessed. Sorry, there is no further comment.”

The backpacker has filed a complaint with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

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