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About the Video Clip:

Video Clip Synopsis:
Migrant women work long hours sewing garments at home for a few dollars an hour. Many are refugees and have little understanding of their rights or the chance of alternative employment.

1min 46sec

Outwork- A Vietnamese Refugee’s Story is an excerpt from the film Heart On The Sleeve (26 mins), an episode of the series Fearless – Stories From Asian Women (4x 26 mins), produced in 2001.

Heart On The Sleeve: Although Australia has a first-world economy, hidden within it a third-world industry thrives. Outworkers sewing at home are paid per piece by clothing companies. They work to unforgiving deadlines, often seven days a week, for a pitiful few dollars per hour. Hundreds of thousands of workers from non-English speaking backgrounds suffer in these archaic conditions. They have no sick pay, leave, superannuation or insurance. Now, Hien Tran, former Vietnamese refugee turned union representative, is speaking up for her fellow outworkers, trapped by their circumstances and financial need.

Fearless – Stories From Asian Women examines the experience of four women fighting for social justice. Each is from a different culture and has her own fascinating story to tell. All are united by their refusal to remain silent and accepting. These courageous and committed women are prepared to risk everything in pursuit of human rights. This compelling series examines the issues that incite them to action, their personal motivations and their hopes for the future.

Fearless – Stories From Asian Women is a Film Australia National Interest Program in association with Mask Productions. Produced and developed with the assistance of ScreenWest and the Lotteries Commission of Western Australia. Produced in association with SBS Independent.

Study Module

Curriculum Focus: English
Year: 9-10
Strand: Resources
Theme: Civic Work

Key Concepts

Outwork; Fair and reasonable society; Minimum wage

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Everyday texts – Language: Contextual understanding
NSW:(1997 Syllabus) C5 Mass media
(2003 Syllabus) Stage 5 Outcome 4
NT:R/V 5.1 – 5.3
R/V 5+.1-5+.3
Qld:Cr 6.2
SA:Texts and contexts 5.3
Tas:Social responsibility — Building social capital, Standard 5; Valuing diversity, Standard 5
Vic:Reading – Texts 6.6
WA:Understanding Language
Attitudes, values and beliefs

Context / Background Information

Outwork is a system of production involving people working at home for a manufacturer. Although Australia has laws regarding minimum wages and occupational health and safety, the system is open to abuse.

Discussion Pointers

  1. What does the video clip show?
  2. What messages does it give about learning English, about outwork and about Australia as a fair and reasonable society?
  3. What elements of the video clip are used to convey these messages?
  4. How could an employer justify this situation?
  5. If we are seeing an unjust and abusive situation, why do you think it is allowed to continue?

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. Imagine a dialogue between an outworker, an employer and a union representative. What position would each take? How would each justify their position?
  2. Why does outwork seem to be so heavily associated with female migrant workers? Suggest reasons, and ways that you might test these hypotheses.
  3. Imagine that you have to make a short speech about Australia as a fair and reasonable society. How might you justify the existence of outwork? Prepare an argument, and then decide how convincing this argument is.

Modules That Use This Clip

English Year 9-10, SOSE/HSIE Year 9-10