Did you know that you can earn up to RM39 (AUD13) per hour, working as a fruit picker in Australian farms? Sounds like a good idea to earn quick cash while abroad right?
If you happen to come across any suspicious fruit picking jobs in Australia online, beware, because it may be a scam. At least 34 Malaysians (including 2 minors) have found themselves detained by Australian immigration officials after falling victims to fruit picking scams.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Bersih Sydney, which is part of Bersih 2.0’s international advocacy arm, revealed that these Malaysian victims were apprehended for working as fruit pickers on a blueberry farm in Coffs Coast without valid visas.
“It was soon clear that these illegal workers had fallen victim to a scam that is becoming increasingly prevalent,” it stated. Since the issue was brought to their attention, Bersih Sydney has been working closely with the Salvation Army Australia and Malaysian Consulate in Sydney.
A Bersih Sydney member who went undercover found out that several con agents have been working in Malaysia, some through tour companies, claiming that they are able to help Malaysians obtain fruit picking jobs and enter the country undetected by the Australian immigration authorities.
“Attractive packages that cost up to RM3999 are offered, which supposedly allow people to work in farms in Australia with most expenses covered, including air fare, hotel expenses, visa application fees, workplace accommodations and local transportation fees,” the advertisement claimed.
Bersih Sydney went on to elaborate that these information provided by the agents were not only false as these fruit pickers were not only underpaid but were exploited. There were even reports of some being forced to work for 36 days straight and “10 workers forced to spend their nights in a small backyard garage”.
Contrary to the agent’s claims that tourist visas, bridging visas or even student visas are enough to allow them to work in Australia, it is untrue.
The Australian High Commission in Malaysia has also issued a warning saying, “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. 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 gain.”
Meanwhile, Bersih Sydney “strongly advise everyone to stay informed on such scams and to only obtain Australian visas through reputable channels”.
You wouldn’t want to travel to Australia only to be deported back to Malaysia.
Source: Bersih Sydney’s Facebook.