National Multicultural Women’s Conference 2016

DiverseWerks presented at the recent National Multicultural Women’s Conference 2016 on 3 November 2016. The presentation focused on the experience of women in the international student labour market in Australia and was held at the Economic Security, Employment, Education and Enterprise session, under the Changing Expectations stream.

This was followed by a panel discussion facilitated by Gail Ker OAM; Access Community Services Ltd, and featured Dr Erika Gonzalez from the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators Inc. (AUSIT), Dai Le from DAWN, and Dr Tangikina Steen from the National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters’ Council (NEMBC), alongside DiverseWerks.


Managing Director Pino Migliorino and Senior Consultant Cecilia Anthony, highlighted how there has been very little attention given to the experience of women international students, despite the international student market accounting for such a high proportion of the national economy.

While women have traditionally made up between 47% and 60% of the total international student market in Australia, there has been a lack of sustained and comprehensive discussion on gender and the international student education experience in Australia. This is particularly apparent in the area of employment.

Women entering Australia on education visas face many of the same issues as their male counterparts. Their experiences range from vulnerabilities as employees in low-paid and under-regulated industries, to discrimination in professional fields. In addition, women from non-European countries also face the added impacts of Australia’s historical gendered racism.

Recommendations offered to improve the circumstances for female international students include:

  • Properly informing students of their workplace rights
  • Ensuring immigration laws do not contribute to the vulnerability of workers
  • Enforcing workplace rights, even where there are visa breaches
  • Closing compliance gaps in hazardous industries
  • Providing government support for international student advocacy to address the political weakness inherent in the constant turnover of student representatives
  • A review of the current visa restrictions for students and work, and measure them against the cost of living
  • Work with the police in areas with high student populations to arm students on safety, reporting and complaints mechanisms and information

DiverseWerks presentation sparked considerable interest in the need for a partnership research project and discussions will continue on this. Contact DiverseWerks at 02 8585 1313 for more information.