AFTER British backpacker Mia Ayliffe-Chung was knifed over and over again in a Queensland hostel, she got up and raced to the bathroom, where she died on the floor.

But there was so little blood on the 20-year-old that paramedics thought she was still alive and tried to resuscitate her as well as another wounded UK traveller, Tom Jackson.

"She was spotless," says Mia's mother, recalling how she also appeared scrubbed clean straight after she was born back in Derbyshire. "She came into the world spotless and left it in the same way."

Rosie Ayliffe has been retracing her daughter's steps through Australia almost a year after her horrific death in remote Home Hill, 100 kilometres south of Townsville.

Much of what Rosie has discovered has been breathtakingly painful, but the former teacher is the type of person who needs to know the truth, and has been fighting to change what she sees as Australia's broken system of agricultural work for backpackers.

Mia Ayliffe-Chung
Mia Ayliffe-Chung

Thanks largely to her investigations and tireless advocacy, it has become clear that backpackers in Australia are routinely exploited, mistreated and abused while completing their farm work.

News.com.au has heard numerous stories from backpackers who have been physically attacked, threatened, sexually harassed and assaulted, forced to work in dangerous conditions, had their passports confiscated or been blackmailed to perform sexual acts in return for sign-off, and underpaid or not paid at all.

A news.com.au investigation into the seedy underbelly of the backpacker scene in far north Queensland where young travellers like Mia pick fruit and vegetables revealed just how hostile the environment could be.

Last month, Rosie went to Home Hill to see where Mia died. Rosie planted two trees and placed a stone Buddha's head in the grounds in her daughter's memory - but has since heard the council has destroyed it.

Mia Ayliffe-Chung
Mia Ayliffe-Chung Rosie Ayliffe

But when news.com.au met with Rosie for a second time at the end of her marathon journey, she was drained.

"I feel wiped out, exhausted, wrung out," she said. "You have to go over everything, when it's raked over the coals in enough detail, you break down. It has been hard."

In the past year, having a purpose has kept the 53-year-old sane, driving her on through the most soul-crushing moments.

She has been busy encouraging young people to come forward, trying to increase transparency around the
conditions at different farms and working hostels on forums and Facebook groups, talking to the Fair Work Commission and petitioning the Australian Government.

Her mother Rosie Ayliffe last month went on an epic journey retracing her daughter’s footsteps through Australia.Source:Channel 7
Her mother Rosie Ayliffe last month went on an epic journey retracing her daughter’s footsteps through Australia.Source:Channel 7

Recently, one backpacker shared a story of sexual assault only to see her attacker receive community service in court.

She and Rosie were crushed. "Australia wants change," insists Rosie.

"I'm really just adding my voice to the growing clamour."

Rosie Ayliffe appears tonight on Australian Story at 8pm and part two screens Monday July 17 at 8pm on ABC and ABC iview.

News Corp Australia


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