A story of abuse, wage slavery and racism – A documentary exposing modern slavery taking place under the radar on Australian farms.
Directed by former working holiday maker Christina Stenseth, 88 Days a Slave unearths the troubling stories of young internationals who come to Australia through the infamous Working Holiday Maker (WHM) program.
Taking an observational approach 88 Days a Slave follows Chris as she meets these young people: some drawn in by the promise of adventure and a desire to explore this vast country whilst others came here with the prospect of working on farms and saving money but instead find themselves cheated and trapped.
They carry out their mandatory ‘88 days’ of agricultural work to secure an additional year in the land of plenty. But it’s not all roses; this poorly regulated program is the only way open for these young people to extend their visas, leaving many open to abuse and exploitation.
We follow Chris, who has experienced such farm exploitation firsthand and is determined to expose the abuses young international workers are forced to deal with. The WHM program has been going for many years but a number of recent changes have upped the ante. COVID-19 drastically changed seasonal work on rural farms, leaving farmers with rotting crops. Now after pressure from the UK, the Australian government is dropping the farm work requirement for British working holiday makers who make up 10% of the WHM labour force. To fill the gap the government will create an ‘agriculture visa’ where people from 10 ASEAN countries will come to pick the crops. It is a prime example of modern slavery.
Chris finds herself in the midst of the ongoing campaigning by WHM advocates to demand the EU to start negotiations with Australia to end all European participation in the ‘88 days’. Will other countries follow UK’s lead?
This film is a timely and urgent exploration of systemic abuses told through the eyes of the young people involved in the program.