British backpacker 'threatened with rape' as she tried to extend Australian visa

Credit: Facebook/Frances Fairs

A British backpacker has spoken of her horrific ordeal in Australia in which she was threatened with rape while working at a remote hostel.

Francis Fairs, 28, had to work for a period of time in the state of Victoria, south-eastern Australia, so she could stay in the country she loved for an extra year.

The backpacker from Norfolk found work in a hostel in rural Victoria, but was alarmed when she arrived and found bedbugs, no running water and a soiled mattress - a far cry from the pictures she had seen online.

She was forced to flee when the hostel owner's behaviour turned sexual.

Ms Fairs told ABC: "The day before Christmas he put his hands on me and I told him very firmly 'you get off me, don't touch me', and he was like 'oh come on, you know you want to'."

Frances wanted to stay an extra year in Australia so she opted into the working visa programme. Credit: Facebook/Frances Fairs

The backpacker strongly rejected his advances and wanted to escape but buses to Melbourne were not running over the festive period.

"He called me into his office and was like 'right here is the deal, you either sleep with me and my girlfriend or I rape you, pick one'," she said.

"He said 'I am going to come and pick you up tomorrow whether you like it or not and I have people that will come and grab you, you are not going to be able to resist this' and I kicked him, I kicked him off me."

Ms Fairs packed her bags and fled, but realised she did not have enough money for the bus to Melbourne.

She managed to persuade the first coach driver to let her travel, but Frances said "it was like he had seen it before."

Backpackers may be working in dangerous places to stay an extra year in the country they love. Credit: PA

Ms Fairs' story is one of many reported to ABC about the exploitation of backpackers on the working holiday visa programme.

Under the current guidelines, people aged 18-30 can stay in Australia for a second year if they complete three months of specified work, namely farming, mining or construction work.

The government has plans to extend the working holiday visa scheme, so people can stay in the country for a third year if they spend six months in a regional area.

Many fear the move would expose young travellers to further abuse and exploitation at the hands of unscrupulous employers.

Ms Fairs is strongly opposed to the change in the visa programme, and told ITV News it was a "terrible idea" and a way to exploit young travellers.

The new change would mean backpackers could stay for a third year in Australia, but they have to complete six months of work. Credit: AP

"Young men and women will do the work anyway because they will be desperate to stay in a country they love," she said.

"There needs to be more options such as au pairing and volunteer work instead otherwise more kids are going to be raped or killed and they’ll become just another statistic to the Australian government."

Ms Fairs' experience of her working time in Australia is not the only one reported to ABC.

Chelsy, who did not give her last name, said she was attacked by a farmer who was driving her home from work.

She told the broadcaster: "I managed to get out of the car and fall backwards into a ditch on the side of the road, he came out of the car and got on top of me, trying to undo his trousers with one hand and holding me with the other."

The backpacker managed to fight back and stop him - she said she crossed her legs so hard they were bruised the next day.

Another British backpacker, Eleanor Juby, said she worked in a remote farm north-west of Brisbaine, but when she arrived she realised the family was looking for a second wife.

Ms Juby said: "The mum spent all of her time [on] polygamy websites, the dad would walk around in only his boxers and he said that when it came to summer, they all went naked."

"He would pull me onto his lap if I walked past him."

In another property, she had to wash alongside animals and the toilet doubled up as a hen coop.

Mia Ayliffe Chung was killed while working in Australia. Credit: Facebook

Mia Ayliffe Chung had been in Australia for eight months when she was murdered in 2016 in a Queensland hostel.

The 20-year-old had been visiting Australia on the extended working visa scheme and her mother, Rosie Ayliffe, now campaigns for the safety of young travellers.

She said extending the working visa scheme would only increase the number of backpackers exposed to dangers abroad.

Ms Ayliffe said the blame lies with the Federal Government as they created the scheme, so they should make sure "every single hostel and workplace that our young people visit is accessible, compliant and safe."

Australia's Fair Work Ombudsman has looked into more than 700 disputes involving young people on the work holiday visa programme.

The Department of Home Affairs said the Migrant Workers' Taskforce was set up to protect young travellers from exploitation or abuse.