Hawthorn, Victoria Australia (PressExposure) December 11, 2006 -- This month of December, Australia reaches peak in its harvest season. Not surprisingly since summers in Australia occur in December as opposed to the wintry climate of the Northern Hemisphere.
December, thus, is a time of high demand for harvest workers, especially in areas where crucial picking of fruits has to be done. Among the variety of fruits and flowers include mangoes, grapes, citrus fruits and rambutansâimportant products and industry Australia is competitively maintaining for a global market.
The increase in demand though is luring skilled workers without the proper Australian working visas. âPast experience indicates some people working on the harvests are doing so illegally,â Senator Vanstone said today.
Australian immigration may have been beefed up in recent months, allowing people with skills and profession to easily acquire an Australian visa so long as they meet the requirements. But some have abused the migration programme and are entering the country either on their own or in complicity with employers.
âThe Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs offers employers or contractors the opportunity to check if people are entitled to work through the Entitlement Verification Online (EVO) system or by contacting the department,â Senator Vanstone said.
âEVO is a free online system that allows employers to check the work entitlements of their workers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
âOfficers from the department can visit worksites to explain how to register and conduct checks on the work rights of potential employees.â
Currently, Parliament is considering tighter sanctions for employers who knowingly or recklessly hire people who do not have proper Australian working visas. The penalties can go up to $66,000 and two years imprisonment.
The proposed offences would also apply to labour supply companies that refer people for work.
[With reports from Senator Amanda Vanstone's website]