A RECORD number of unlawful non-citizens have been found working illegally on a farm in the NSW Riverina region.
Following a tip-off from the community, a major compliance operation headed by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection uncovered a total of 37 illegal workers at a citrus farm in Hillston.
Of the group, 35 people were found to be unlawful non-citizens, while two were working in breach of their visa conditions.
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The group included 36 Malaysian nationals and one Indonesian national, a total of eight women and 29 men.
It’s the largest number of illegal workers found in a single location this year.
They will now be transferred to either the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre or the Adelaide Immigration Transit Accommodation.
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon. Scott Morrison said the location of the illegal workers reflected the government’s commitment to stamping out unlawful work, and ongoing compliance efforts were a key part of this.
“Individuals working unlawfully not only risk having their visa cancelled and being detained and removed from Australia, but they do not receive the same protections as people working lawfully in the country,” Minister Morrison said.
“This compliance work is critical to maintaining the integrity of the visa programme, and I congratulate the Department on this significant operation.
Federal member for Riverina, Mr Michael McCormack said although the overwhelming majority of people do the right thing, those who don’t abide by their visa conditions undermine the visa system.
“Non-citizens found not to comply with Australia’s immigration laws will be actively pursued through a range of measures such as location, detention and removal from Australia, or the enforcement of penalties and litigation, where necessary,” Mr McCormack said.
“Where evidence suggests employers are knowingly or recklessly allowing a person to work either illegally or in breach of their visa conditions, the case will be assessed to see whether there is sufficient evidence to impose an infringement or pursue a civil or criminal prosecution.”
People with information about illegal workers or visa overstayers can call 1800 009 623.