The Senate Inquiry on Job Security made it's first stop outside Sydney on Wednesday at the Wollongong Golf Club.
The inquiry heard from workers and employers about underemployment and insecure work on the South Coast, a situation Senator for NSW Tony Sheldon, who is chairing the committee, described as a "plague of job insecurity".
"The inquiry is about casualisation, rolling contracts and insecure work arrangement that undermine the economy," he said.
"We want to look at bipartisan answers to make work more secure so people can feed their family, pay the rent and be able to live a fair life."
Sharon Bird, Federal member for Cunningham welcomed the inquiry.
"There is no doubt the issue of insecure work is significant across our region," she said.
"It's important we don't go back to a pre-COVID situation when we saw too many people work in insecure conditions. Those people become extraordinarily vulnerable during an emergency like the pandemic.
"Dignity, decency, respect and safety need to be part of work conditions."
Ashleigh Mounser was one of the workers who spoke to the comimttee.
In 2017, she went on Facebook to vent about being offered as little as $10 an hour to work in a takeaway food shop. After asking if anyone else had experienced similar treatment, she was overwhelmed by complaints from 67 young workers within days of her posting.
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The Wollongong uni student knew had to act and began collecting the stories to take to the Fair Work Ombudsman.
"My rent was $110, so I had to work 11 hours before I'd even begun to pay for things like food, electricity, or university textbooks," she said.
"After three months at one place I was the most senior employee because turnover was so high.
"My employer was forced to pay back the money they owed me, but as far as I know they weren't fined and there were no efforts to make sure they are paying their current staff correctly."
It's not just university students who are vulnerable.
Shoalhaven Mayor Amanda Findley gave evidence that single mums who are part of the gig economy are often in an unstable financial position.
"Everyone knows the South Coast and other regional areas have a lot of homes converted to businessses through Air b'n'b and Stayz," she said.
"All have to be serviced, often by women on their own ABN trying to look after their families.
"Once they're down through illness or injury they're totally reliant on Centrelink, with no income coming in. How can we support those families?"
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