Mother of backpacker murdered during compulsory farm work in Australia praises PM for dropping out of program



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The mother of a British tourist who was stabbed to death during compulsory farm work in Australia fears other migrant workers continue to be exploited by the program.

Backpacker Mia Ayliffe-Chung, 21, was dragged out of bed and murdered by French tourist Smail Ayad while working in a sugarcane field in Queensland to extend her tourist visa in 2016.

Under Boris Johnson’s UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement, Britons under 35 will be allowed to live and work in Australia for three years without having to complete 88 days of work agricultural.

Appearing on BBC Breakfast today, Mia’s mother Rosie Ayliffe of Derbyshire said she was “eternally grateful” to Boris Johnson that the controversial program was dropped for UK nationals and admitted her grief for Mia would never leave her.

However, she believes that this is only the “first step” to abolish the “power imbalance” between employers and migrant workers, as workers of other nationalities will be there to “take the place” of British tourists and risk being exploited.

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Backpacker Mia Ayliffe-Chung, 21, was stabbed to death during compulsory farm work in Australia in 2016

Mia's mother Rosie Ayliffe of Derbyshire said she felt 'internally grateful' to Boris Johnson that the controversial program was dropped for UK nationals

Mia’s mother Rosie Ayliffe of Derbyshire said she felt ‘internally grateful’ to Boris Johnson that the controversial program was dropped for UK nationals

“I’m relieved,” she said of the decision. “But I am very aware that this is only the first step because from an international point of view there will be other Europeans, Asians and Pacific Islanders to take their place.

“The imbalance of power between the farmer, or the employer, and the worker, the migrant worker, is still there, because the 88 days still exist for other nationalities.

“So while I am eternally grateful to Boris Johnson for bringing our people out, this now needs to be replicated by other world leaders.”

Mia had traveled the world for almost a year before coming to Australia in early 2016 and after a stint in a bar in Surfers Paradise, decided to extend her 417 visa by completing her 88 days of agricultural work.

Appearing on BBC Breakfast today, Mia's mother said abolishing the scheme for British nationals was just the

Appearing on BBC Breakfast today, Mia’s mother said abolishing the scheme for British nationals was only the “first step” to abolish the “imbalance of power” between employers and migrant workers

Mia had traveled the world for almost a year before coming to Australia in early 2016

She decided to extend her 417 visa by completing her 88 days of agricultural work

Mia had traveled the world for almost a year before coming to Australia in early 2016 and after a stint in a bar in Surfers Paradise, decided to extend her 417 visa by completing her 88 days of agricultural work.

She was killed a week later at the hands of Ayad, who stabbed her several times and then jumped face-first from a balcony – breaking her neck and back before fatally injuring British backpacker Tom Jackson, 30, who rushed to help Mia.

Ayad suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and has become obsessed with Mia. Witness reports at the hostel said he called Mia his “wife” and spoke regularly of his sexual attraction to her.

The killer saw lawsuits dropped against him after a court ruled he was insane and was sentenced to 10 years in a mental institution.

She was dragged out of bed and murdered by French tourist Smail Ayad

She was dragged out of bed and murdered by French tourist Smail Ayad

Mia’s mother said she could tell her daughter was ‘afraid’ of something when they spoke on the phone and asked her employers if she could be moved from the same room as Ayad.

“My daughter told me that she was going to do her farm work and that she had to do it and it was really the first time I had heard about the project,” said Rosie.

“But when she got to the hostel and told me about the conditions she was working under, I started getting alarmed at the time because she was talking about a lack of regulation, she was talking about a lack of induction, dangers on the ground she experienced.

“Over time, she was only in this hostel for a few days, I started to realize that she was afraid, I didn’t know what she was afraid of, but I found out later that she had been put in a room with a guy who was exhibiting mental health issues and was obviously obsessed with her.

“She asked to change rooms and didn’t get permission and she was murdered one night, she was dragged out of bed and killed and Tom Jackson tried to save her life very bravely.”

Mia’s mother has campaigned tirelessly over the past five years to highlight the dangers of the visa program and says she has met young people who have been “traumatized” by the abuse they suffered during the program.

“I met young people who had been sexually assaulted, I met young people who were now working well below the minimum wage and that in itself had put them in danger,” she recalls.

“I have met people who got put on a road in the middle of the outback at 3am with all their stuff just spilled on the road and the risks there – Australia has its fair share of killers in series, so doing that was amazing to me.

Rosie says her grief for Mia will never leave her, but that by

Rosie says her grief for Mia will never leave her, but that by “constantly facing her demons” she has managed to find a “kind of happiness”

“Those people – often not necessarily farmers – who hire work contracts or hostel owners could treat vulnerable young people from a different culture the way they did was a shock.”

Rosie stated that her grief for Mia would never leave her, but that “in the face of her demons” constantly, she had managed to find “some kind of happiness”.

“I think in terms of grief they say that constantly facing your demons and being able to speak through these final moments, your emotions and the loss is vital,” she said.

“To be honest, that’s what I was able to do by campaigning and writing a book on the subject, I revisited and revisited grief and that was my therapy.”

She added: “I have found some kind of happiness but Mia is still with me and the loss is still there, it’s not something that you get over, you take it as part of who you become. ”

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