Week of action in Bundaberg region to support seasonal workers

A 36-year-old Malaysian national has been detained for being an unlawful non-citizen after he was allegedly found to be a key facilitator in the exploitation of foreign workers.

The man was located during a week of action in the Bundaberg region by Australian Border Force (ABF) with the support of Queensland Police. The operational activity aimed to support workers under the Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme, and target labour hire intermediaries exploiting vulnerable onshore foreign workers, including unlawful non-citizens.

Between 23-25 March 2021, ABF officers and investigators conducted a series of warrant and non-warrant activities, including educational engagements at nine agricultural properties in the region. On 23 March, officers located and detained the Malaysian unlawful non-citizen, who is accused of being an unregistered and unlicensed labour hire intermediary and a key facilitator in the exploitation of foreign workers.

The ABF also issued 41 Illegal Worker Warning Notices to businesses over the employment of 41 seasonal workers who were in breach of their conditions.

ABF officers spoke to farmers who have been experiencing a shortage of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. They assisted by resolving the status of some unlawful non-citizens working on the farms by considering them for Bridging Visa Es with work rights. This was aimed at ensuring there are sufficient numbers of legal workers in the agriculture industry to support Queensland’s food supply chain.

ABF Assistant Commissioner North Tim Fitzgerald says the ABF is committed to supporting the welfare of seasonal workers in Australia.

“This week’s activity has focussed on identifying unscrupulous employers, while ensuring foreign workers are being treated well and are receiving the appropriate pay and entitlements,” AC Fitzgerald said.

“The ABF will not tolerate the exploitation of foreign workers, and will continue to target individuals and companies who make profits by facilitating illegal work and taking advantage of workers.

“Information obtained during the week of action will form the basis of further investigations into facilitators of worker exploitation and migration fraud.”

The ABF encourages individuals who are being exploited, regardless of visa status, to come forward and provide information so action can be taken against those involved in these practices.

Anyone who is aware of an individual, business or employer who might be facilitating visa fraud or illegal work is urged to contact Border Watch at australia.gov.au/borderwatch

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