Worker pro­gram in­ves­ti­ga­tion

An­other re­ported death in Sea­sonal Worker Pro­gram

Central and North Rural Weekly - - NEWS - Emma Field news@ru­ral­weekly.com

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.

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