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‘You may bring shame to your family’: Australia launches campaign to stop seasonal farm workers absconding | Australia news

The Australian authorities has launched an aggressive campaign to stop Pacific Islander farm workers from fleeing their jobs as new figures reveal greater than 1,000 seasonal pickers absconded previously 12 months.

The campaign warns pickers they may “bring shame to their families” in the event that they run away from their jobs and so they threat having their visa cancelled.

“You may not be able to work in Australia again (this may include your family and community members)”, one campaign poster reads.

“You may damage the relationship between your country and the employer, and you may bring shame to your family’s reputation.”

It comes as Australia’s seasonal employee program is hit with claims it has subjected folks to “inhumane conditions”, with a category motion being constructed in opposition to the federal government.

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Each 12 months hundreds of migrants from the Pacific islands are introduced to Australia to work on farms selecting fruit and greens beneath this system.

In the final monetary 12 months, 1,181 workers on this system tried to run away from their staff, that are usually labour rent firms, in accordance to the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE). That is in contrast to 225 the earlier 12 months.

A DESE spokesperson mentioned the quantity of people that absconded was not as giant because it appeared, as some may have returned to work.

“[There are also] workers who have reconnected with the SWP and have since been redeployed to another placement,” the spokesperson mentioned.

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The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which is accountable for the campaign poster, has been approached for remark.

A government poster warns Pacific Islanders on seasonal worker visas not to abscond.
A authorities poster geared toward seasonal farm workers. Photograph: Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment

Alison Rahill, govt officer of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney’s Anti-Slavery Taskforce, mentioned 80% of the workforce had been tied to labour rent contractors, which regularly meant they had been working in poor circumstances.

She mentioned the main target must be about why an worker would need to go away within the first palace.

“We’re never concerned about why a worker is leaving an employer,” Rahill mentioned.

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“Finding out if there were threats, intimidation and abuse. All of the reasons that would contribute to a worker wanting to leave an employer.”

She mentioned the poster, which is out there to obtain on the federal government web site in six completely different Pacific languages, would exacerbate the “fear” that workers would really feel.

Rahill mentioned workers had been typically handled poorly and residing in isolation with out correct meals and lodging.

“They’re left with no choice but to run away. They’re given no choice.”

Proponents of this system argue it delivers advantages for each Australian farms and the workers.

Workers from these nations are sometimes poor and have restricted English. For many, it’s a manner to construct a greater life.

“We really want to go there to work for our family future,” mentioned one employee in Samoa, who’s awaiting approval.

But others argue the isolation of the workers and the character of the business has led to widespread exploitation.

Sydney lawyer Stewart Levitt is constructing a category motion in opposition to the federal government over this system.

Workers are meant to obtain $900 per week for his or her work, however Levitt mentioned this was uncommon and a few had been left with solely $300 per week after their employers made extreme deductions.

This can embrace $200 per week to share a delivery container or room with six different folks, he mentioned.

“They’re paying through the nose to live with six people in one bedroom, with an outdoor toilet,” Levitt mentioned. “We have payslips where people are being charged $14.80 for water.”

He mentioned workers had been subjected to “substandard and inhumane conditions” however many had been too scared to come ahead.

“Because of the intimidation and terror that’s been struck, it’s hard to get anyone to come forward. They’ve been told there are repercussions,” Levitt mentioned.

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