Worker program investigation
Another reported death in Seasonal Worker Program
A PACIFIC Islander has died on a farm while working in Australia on the Federal Government-sanctioned Seasonal Worker Program.
Rural Weekly can reveal a man died last month on a St George, Queensland, farm.
Under the Federal Government-run Seasonal Worker Program, Pacific Islanders can receive a special visa, usually valid for up to six months, to work in Australian agriculture and tourism regions unable to attract local labourers.
At a Senate Estimates hearing in May, it was revealed seven workers had died while in Australia working on the Seasonal Worker Program since 2012.
And the federal Department of Employment, which managed the SWP, was questioned heavily by senators from the Education and Employment Legislation Committee about these deaths.
The Department of Employment confirmed the most recent death, on a horticulture property, to Rural Weekly. The man, understood to be from Vanuatu, was found dead on a St George farm on September 25. The Queensland Ambulance Service confirmed it received a call to a private rural location near St George, and a man was treated, but no one was transported from the scene and the Queensland Police were called. A Department of Employment spokesman said the death was not being treated as suspicious, and the case was with the Queensland Coroner. However the spokesman confirmed that shortly after the death the Department of Employment visited the farm and spoke with the approved employer, which is the company registered to bring in workers on the Seasonal Worker Program.
“Department of Employment officers visited the deceased employee’s workplace on September 28 2017 to confirm the circumstances of the death (and to) ensure the employer was meeting their obligations under the program and check on the wellbeing of other workers,” the spokesman said.