Interns Australia wants a government response or program to tackle the growing issue which has also plagued other countries.
WHEN Colleen Chen was about to sign up for her third internship, something struck her as off.
She was about to start as an editorial intern for a 20-year-old Melbourne-based publisher when she was warned by a friend who had done a placement at the same company. Her friend told her that the publisher uses interns instead of paid staff for the bulk of the editorial work and rotates through them every three months.
The list of former interns was over a hundred and, to her knowledge, none of them managed to turn the internship into a paid writing gig for the medium-sized publisher. She said that the only paid staff members was one editor and some IT and support staff. The rest were unpaid interns.
So Ms Chen decided to ask for a contract for her internship so she could find out exactly what it entailed. The contract she was given for the unpaid gig had two stipulations she was uncomfortable with — that she would sign over her copyright for all work produced, and that she would sign away her OH&S rights. In other words, if she was injured on the job, that was her problem and hers alone.
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