Exploited outworkers in Australia's clothing industry are being paid as little as 50 Australian cents an hour and many are getting their children to help them with their work, a shocking new study published on Friday has found.

The survey by the University of Melbourne found that most of the estimated 330,000 outworkers in Australia work long shifts of between 12 and 19 hours a day and that 90 per cent work six days a week.

Their average wage is just $A3.60 an hour, while some workers interviewed for the study said they needed to get their children to help them complete their work, and received payment of below a dollar an hour.

Many of the workers are migrants from Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia and so speak little if any English.

Researchers say the workers live hand to mouth, trying to support their children, and fear they will lose their jobs if they talk about their pay and work conditions.