Slain backpacker's mum urges reform

Andrew Leeson
Slain backpacker's mum urges reform

Backpackers working so they can extend their visas are being placed in danger by an industry that needs to be reformed, the mother of slain British backpacker Mia Ayliffe-Chung says.

Speaking with Australian Story on Monday night, Rosie Ayliffe said the death of her daughter in 2015 had highlighted the dangers faced by backpackers under the working-holiday visa system.

"I had to use the publicity around Mia and Tom's deaths to alert people to the fact that they were in danger for more than one reason and that this is rife," Ms Ayliffe said.

Ms Ayliffe's 20-year-old daughter was killed in a frenzied knife attack which also left fellow Brit Tom Jackson fatally injured at a north Queensland hostel.

In the first year of their trips, many backpackers choose to do 88 days of rural work, usually agricultural, in order to get a visa to stay in Australia for a second year.

For this reason hostels often promise work to appeal to backpackers but some provide nothing beyond a bed and a bill, Ms Ayliffe said.

"I started to realise that the hostels are not regulated ... they operate almost as if they're a hotel and yet the young people are only there because of the work."

She said many people had contacted her with stories of being placed into dangerous working conditions including a woman scalped by a conveyor belt, and accounts of sexual assault.

Tom Jackson's parents said the system left their son embroiled in debts he could not pay.

"Over the first few weeks, where he didn't have any work, he built up a rental debt," Les Jackson said.