Rapid Review into the Exploitation of Australia’s Visa System


The Government has no tolerance for abuse of the Australian visa system or exploitation of vulnerable migrants, and is committed to combatting this abhorrent behaviour.

In January 2023, the Hon Clare O’Neil MP, Minister for Home Affairs and Cyber Security appointed former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police Christine Nixon AO APM to undertake a Rapid Review into the Exploitation of Australia’s Visa System (the Nixon Review).

Terms of Reference

The Nixon Review was established to complement work already being progressed by the Department of Home Affairs. This work addresses migrant worker exploitation, and aims to more effectively prevent, deter and sanction abuse of Australia's visa framework.

In undertaking the review, Ms Nixon AO, APM worked with Commonwealth, state and territory agencies, and other relevant organisations.

To identify recommendations or insights that may apply to Australia, she also considered:

  • findings of previous and ongoing reviews and inquiries (including Parliamentary Inquiries)
  • regulatory approaches in relevant overseas jurisdictions.

The scope of the review included the following aspects:

  • Specific circumstances of issues highlighted in media reports.
  • The use, storage, treatment and sharing of information within Home Affairs, in respect to investigation, regulation and enforcement efforts to address the behaviour of threat actors who target vulnerabilities in the visa system.
  • The powers, resourcing and sanctions available to the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) and the Australian Border Force (ABF), to investigate and take action against third parties who seek to exploit the visa system, including registered and unregistered migration agents.
  • The powers and provisions for checking the character of people across the visa continuum and the gaps and areas of weakness that have allowed threat actors to enter Australia and exploit our system.
  • How visa settings could be optimised to limit the vulnerability of visa holders, uphold the integrity of visa programs, and deter unscrupulous actors.
  • The triage, referral and decision making mechanisms for cases of concern, particularly where there are indicators of the facilitation of the exploitation of migrants in Australia.

Report and Government Response

Ms Nixon presented the Nixon Review report to the Government on 31 March 2023. It makes 34 recommendations, arising from seven key findings. See Rapid Review into the Exploitation of Australia’s Visa System.

The Government has carefully considered the Nixon Review’s findings to inform its response - agreeing, agreeing-in-part or agreeing-in-principle to 24 of the 34 recommendations, noting eight recommendations and disagreeing with two recommendations. See ​​Government Response to the Nixon Review.

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