Thursday, 19 July 2018 11:13

Image sourced under licence: Shutterstock Image sourced under licence: Shutterstock

ABF targets illegal worker exploitation in remote WA

  • Find out who was targeted
  • How to establish if your workers are entitled to work in WA
  • How MTA WA Industrial Relations Dept can assist


Officers from the Australian Border Force (ABF), assisted by officers from the WA Police Force (WAPF), detained eight unlawful non-citizens following the execution of migration-related warrants on two properties at Kununurra in the far north of Western Australia on Tuesday (17 July).

Six Malaysian nationals and two from Nepal were detained and taken to the Kununurra Police Station for an interview.

Acting Superintendent Anthony Spadavecchia from ABF's Enforcement Command said three of those detained are suspected of higher-level involvement in worker exploitation and are being held in detention ahead of their removal from Australia.

“The remaining five individuals were conditionally released, contingent on their immediate departure from Australia,” Acting Superintendent Spadavecchia said

 “This operation specifically targeted labour hire intermediaries and employers suspected of exploiting foreign workers.

“Illegal workers are often underpaid and poorly treated, and those facilitating their employment are making significant profits at their expense. It also puts legitimate local businesses at a disadvantage.”

In cases of organised visa fraud, the Australian Border Force can pursue offences carrying penalties up to 10 years imprisonment and/or fines of up to $210,000 for individuals and $1,050,000 for corporations.

Investigations into illegal labour hire in the region are continuing.

“The ABF is committed to tackling the practice of illegal work in Australia – wherever it occurs. The remoteness of Kununurra posed some logistical challenges for the operation and ABF is very grateful to the WA Police Force, and in particular the Kununurra Police, for their ongoing assistance with these matters,” Acting Superintendent Spadavecchia said.


Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO)

Is your business checking the working rights of all new employees?  Have you checked current workers to establish if workers do have a legal right to work in Australia?

Did you know that it is your responsibility to ensure you employ legal workers?

Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and New Zealand citizens are legal workers and have unlimited permission to work in Australia.

Businesses can use VEVO to check a foreign national’s entitlement to live, work and study in Australia. VEVO is one way of checking someone’s right to work in Australia. You must have the workers written permission before you conduct any VEVO check.

It is important to note that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship only informs visa holders if they are not allowed to work or if they have work restrictions on their visa. If an employer checks a person’s visa details and there are no work restrictions, the employer can be confident that the person is a legal worker.

The preferred method of checking visa details is to register for free, online system Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO).

Employers found to have employed, referred or contracted a foreign national who does not have permission to work or is in breach of their visa conditions (an illegal worker) face penalties of up to AUD$102,000 per illegal worker

Only information about foreign nationals who have their details available in the Department of Immigration and Citizenship system can be checked in VEVO.

For further information on how to register for VEVO please click HERE

Tip: It is always a good policy to check all work rights of all workers.

Please contact Ron Ballucci on 9233 9800 should you require any further information.

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