More Malaysians Are Falling For Scams That Offer Fruit-Picking Jobs In Australia
34 Malaysians, including two minors, have been detained in an Australian immigration detention centre for working in farms without a valid visa
These Malaysians were working as fruit pickers on a blueberry farm in Coffs Coast before they were caught and detained at the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre, Sydney, Australia.
This was revealed by Bersih Sydney, which is part of the electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0's international advocacy arm, Global Bersih on Saturday, 10 September.
According to Bersih Sydney, the Salvation Army Australia had reached out to the group to seek assistance over the issue.
Following that, a Bersih Sydney member went undercover in order to shed more light on the matter
"'Agents' operating in Malaysia, some linked to tour companies, claim that they are able to assist Malaysians wishing to make some extra money abroad to enter and work in Australia undetected by the Australian immigration authorities."
"Attractive packages that cost up to RM3,999 are offered, which supposedly allow people to work in farms in Australia with most expenses covered, including airfare, hotel expenses, visa application fees, workplace accommodations and local transportation fees," Bersih Sydney said in a Facebook post.
Bersih Sydney went on to explain that these "agents" had given false hopes to Malaysians, citing reports that revealed how these fruit pickers were not just being short-changed but also being exploited.
"In addition, the accommodation and transportation fees promised to be included in the packages were deducted daily from their wages. Long working periods, poor living conditions and below minimum wages were just some of the difficulties these victims had to face."
Bersih Sydney also said that these unscrupulous "agents" would go to great lengths to convince Malaysians to sign up for the "packages" they offer
Many of these "agents" would mislead Malaysians by stating that tourist visas, bridging visas or even student visas are sufficient to allow them to work in Australia, but none of that is true.
"In other instances, "agents" offer to arrange for work travel visas for applicants; it is worth noting here that the Australian government only issues 100 Subclass 417 work travel visas to Malaysians per year," it said.
"Other "agents" recruit Malaysian students in Australia, or suggest Malaysians enrol in TAFE courses and to then work while holding a student visa. This usually leads to them working on fruit farms beyond the stipulated work hour limit, exposing them to having their visa revoked. Once these workers are caught, the "agents" would refuse to get involved, while the victims would bear the consequences and risk being deported."
Bersih Sydney has advised Malaysians to stay away from dubious agents as they may be part of a syndicate
"Currently, our team member, together with the Australian Salvation Army, are working with authorities seeking to bring this crime to an end," it said.
"We strongly advise everyone to stay informed on such scams and to only obtain Australian visas through reputable channels."
Meanwhile, the Australian High Commission in Malaysia has also warned the public against such scams
"The Department of Immigration and Border Protection warns people to be very cautious regarding claims that Australian visas are allegedly for sale. These claims are not true. Australian visas are not for sale. Visas can only be obtained through official channels," the statement read.
"We are also aware facilitators in Malaysia organising visas and flights to Australia for people who intend to work illegally on their Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) visa. This is a scam attempting to intentionally mislead people, often for money or other personal gains."
"An ETA does not permit you to undertake paid work (such as fruit picking) in Australia. Don't be fooled by these scams. If you work in Australia in breach of your visa conditions, you may be detained and removed, and subject to the 3 year exclusion period. It is your responsibility to know what your visa allows you to do while in Australia."
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