Australia issues ban on some seasonal workers

Australia has blacklisted over 50 Ni-Vanuatu seasonal workers.

Vanuatu’s Commissioner of Labour, Murielle Metsan Meltenoven, says the ban has been imposed on workers who have been consuming excessive alcohol or having affairs at work affecting partners and children at home.

The ban also includes workers who have been changing work farms too frequently.

Mrs Meltenoven says Vanuatu’s Department of Labour has a policy to stand-down such workers and remove them from the Seasonal Workers Program.

She says one Ni-Vanuatu worker who has allegedly breached Australian law during his assignment, will appear in an Australian court to face charges.

“[If found guilty], with this type of case, the worker will be banned from travelling [to Australia] again and he’ll be blacklisted from the program,” the commissioner said.

“He has also breached his visa conditions and so as soon as his case is completed in the courts, he will need to return to Vanuatu.

“And, Australia will no longer be a possible port of entry for him.”

The Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs has called on the labour department to work closely with them to address the social issues affecting Vanuatu’s seasonal workers.

Malvatumauri President, Chief Wemal Tuwo Vano, Willie Grey Plasua, says the council wants the chiefs of the communities seasonal workers are drawn from, to be involved in the approval of those selected to work abroad.

Chief Plasua wants the chiefs to be involved in signing the documents of workers applying to join the program.

He says the chiefs know the people of their communities very well and could help to identify the best people to work overseas.

Mrs Meltenoven says the Vanuatu Government will appoint an Australian-based liaison officer who will be able to assist and support seasonal workers.

“The issues which face these workers can become challenging because there is no Vanuatu liaison officer on the ground there to assist,” Mrs Meltenoven said.

“Once the Public Service Commission gives the all-clear for such an officer to play this role, an officer will be appointed and will travel to Australia.”

Mrs Meltenoven called on seasonal workers to report any issues they face in Australia or New Zealand through the proper communication channels.

She says workers can contact Vanuatu Government officials abroad or back in Vanuatu if they are unhappy about the farms they are working on.

Mrs Meltenoven says the Vanuatu liaison officer will be appointed and travel to Australia soon.

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