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List of complaints regarding work exploitation for volunteering programs in Australia

M Z made this Freedom of Information request to Fair Work Commission

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From: M Z

Delivered

Dear Fair Work Commission,

Could you please send through the latest documents that include the number of complaints regarding work exploitation for overseas volunteering programs your agency has received in 2017.

If possible please treat this as an administrative/ informal request. Otherwise please proceed with my request as a formal information request under the Act.

Yours faithfully,

Ludmila Zie

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Fair Work Commission

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Freedom of Information request - List of complaints regarding work
exploitation for volunteering programs in Australia

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Privacy: the Commission collects the information (including personal information) you provide to it. For more details of the Commission’s collection, use and disclosure of this information, please see the Freedom of information & Privacy Notice at: https://www.fwc.gov.au/about-us/legal/fr... or ask for a hard copy to be provided to you.

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From: Fair Work FOI
Fair Work Commission

Dear Ms Zie,

I refer to your FOI request dated 9 April 2018. You have requested ‘the latest documents that include the number of complaints regarding work exploitation for overseas volunteering programs your agency has received in 2017.’

Please note that the Fair Work Commission (Commission) does not investigate complaints in relation to alleged breaches of workplace laws. Investigation of complaints and compliance with workplace laws is undertaken by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO). You may request access to documents relating to the number of complaints received by the FWO by contacting the FWO’s information access team at [email address].

The Commission has jurisdiction under the Fair Work Act 2009 to deal with:
•unfair dismissal applications
•general protections applications
•applications for an order to stop bullying
•unlawful termination applications; and
•disputes under an award or enterprise agreement.

The Commission’s role is to resolve disputes through conciliation, mediation and in some cases public tribunal hearings.

The Commission has a complaints inbox that is dedicated to complaints about its processes or practices. Details of the number and types of complaints received by the Commission in the last financial year are available at pages 119-120 of the Commission's Annual Report 2016-17 (https://www.fwc.gov.au/documents/documen.... No complaints were made to the complaints inbox in 2017 relating to ‘work exploitation for overseas volunteering programs’. However, I cannot say with certainty that allegations of this nature have not been raised in an application lodged with the Commission.

Could you please clarify if your request covers allegations of ‘work exploitation for overseas volunteering programs’ that may have been raised in an application lodged with the Commission? Alternatively, if you consider that the information you seek is held by the FWO please advise accordingly.

I note that if the request includes allegations that may have been raised in an application lodged with the Commission, searching for such allegations would likely take a significant amount of time as each matter file lodged in 2017 would need to be searched individually. For example, in the 2016-17 financial year the Commission received 33,071 applications. This could constitute a substantial and unreasonable diversion of resources and potentially provide a basis for refusing the request under s.24 of the FOI Act (practical refusal).

Yours sincerely,

Haydar Tuncer
Freedom of Information Officer
Reporting, Planning and Legal
Fair Work Commission
Telephone: 03 8656 4856
Email: [FWC request email]

11 Exhibition Street, Melbourne Victoria 3000
GPO Box 1994, Melbourne Victoria 3001

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