The backpacking industry in Australia is absolutely huge, and the conditions placed on travellers certainly rate as challenging at the best of times.
“Young women are asked for sexual favours to get their visa signed off. Often the contractors provide accommodation as well, so women are being put in quite vulnerable situations.”
“We’ve had a number of direct or indirect issues raised with us by the community members, police and other government agencies.”
“What’s been indirectly reported to us is more serious criminal sexual exploitation.”
Cocks stated that, officially, at least 12 incidents of indecent contact and sexual predatory conduct have been reported in the past 18 months from the Lockyer Valley region of South-East Queensland alone.
“While the department has no regulatory ability to exclude Australian employers from employing working holiday visa holders or verify their employment, the department does maintain information on employers of known integrity concern and screens and scrutinises working holiday visa applications accordingly.”
The names and identities of those farmers and employers who exhibit predatory tendencies are well known within hostel circles, and backpackers heading off to work in rural areas are often warned against contact with certain individuals.