Multi-state operations target illegal work organisers

Officers from the Australian Border Force have netted significant results in activity across the country in the past week, targeting labour hire intermediaries (LHI) as part of the ongoing Operation Battenrun, which protects vulnerable workers by targeting foreign nationals acting as unscrupulous labour hire intermediaries facilitating illegal work.

In the most recent activity, near Mildura in Victoria on 26 June 2019, five Malaysian unlawful non-citizens (UNCs) were located and detained including an alleged LHI subcontractor who attempted to abscond from officers. In addition, three Malaysian tourist visa holders had their visas cancelled and were issued bridging visas on departure grounds.

On 25 June 2019, officers conducted enforcement activity on a suspected residential brothel in Albany, WA. Two Chinese women were detained – one UNC and another whose visa was cancelled for working in breach of her visa conditions. The UNC is suspected of organising sex workers within the wider Great Southern region. Investigations into this matter are continuing.

On 21 June 2019, officers detained three Indian unlawful non-citizens in Griffith, NSW, including one LHI who was the target of the operation. A $10,000 infringement was also issued to a farm in the region for employing UNCs.

On 18 June 2019, officers from the ABF and the QLD Office of Industrial Relations visited a farm near Caboolture north of Brisbane in QLD. The ABF detained one Malaysian unlawful non-citizen and counselled the grower, the LHI subcontractor and educated several dozen workers regarding their rights and responsibilities. Significant intelligence was also gathered in relation to ongoing investigations around foreign worker exploitation.

The individuals who have been detained will be removed from Australia as soon as possible. Those granted Bridging Visas have had them granted on the condition that they depart from Australia as soon as possible.

ABF Commander of Field Operations, James Copeman, said that the ABF was resolutely determined to stamp out damaging and deceitful labour hire intermediaries operating in the in a number of different sectors including but not limited to the agriculture and construction industries.

“Abusive and exploitive treatment of illegal workers is an unacceptable practice – illegal workers are generally highly vulnerable and often underpaid,” Commander Copeman said.

“Not only are the individuals facilitating illegal worker exploitation and making large profits at their expense, they are also disadvantaging local businesses who do the right things by paying and treating their workers properly.

“Our investigations are ongoing into all of the activity that has occurred in the past week, and enforcement operations will continue to occur,” Commander Copeman said.

Anyone with information about illegal work is encouraged to report it to the ABF’s Border Watch program by visiting www.australia.gov.au/borderwatch

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