The Australian Border Force (ABF) has identified a number of labour hire intermediaries involved in sourcing illegal labour and sending money derived from this exploitation offshore, following an Australia-wide Operation code named Bonasus.
More than 225 people working in breach of their visa conditions were also located during the operation.
Officers inspected almost 50 properties, including businesses and residential premises, as part of the operation targeting organised visa fraud, illegal work and the exploitation of foreign nationals.
The individuals identified working illegally were from Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Vietnam Tunisia, Pakistan and Bangladesh. They were located working in industries ranging from agriculture to retail and hospitality.
In addition, more than 300 individuals were refused entry into Australia as part of the operation.
ABF Commander Field and Removal Operations, Robyn Miller, said the operation should act as a warning to both employers of illegal workers and non-citizens who are or are intending to, work illegally in Australia.
“Combatting visa fraud and investigating those who attempt to exploit and profit from Australia’s visa regime is a priority for the ABF,” Commander Miller said.
“The facilitation of, and engagement in, illegal work can have lasting negative impact on Australian communities and individuals.
“This includes significant underpayment and substandard living conditions for foreign workers, and reputational damage for rural and metropolitan industry sectors.
“Small and medium businesses are also disadvantaged due to the unfair competitive advantage gained by those who do not adhere to the law.”
Investigations into these labour hire intermediaries are continuing. There are heavy penalties for unscrupulous employers who organise illegal work, including up to 10 years imprisonment and/or fines of up to $210,000.
Individual visa holders also need to be aware of the conditions of their visa and ensure they are legally allowed to reside and work in Australia.
Individuals caught working illegally may be detained and removed. Individuals also face being banned from re-entering Australia for three years and may be liable for the costs of their removal.
A majority of the unlawful noncitizens and foreign nationals caught working illegally have been removed to their country of origin. A small number of the group are assisting the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to resolve their immigration status.
Anyone who is aware of an individual, business or employer who may be facilitating visa fraud or illegal work is urged to contact Border Watch on 1800 009 623 or visit www.border.gov.au/report. Information can be provided anonymously.