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Arrangements are being made today for the removal of 19 suspected illegal farm workers located in a northern Victoria compliance operation.

These Malaysian nationals – 13 males and six females – are believed to have been employed as local fruit and vegetable pickers.

“All were located at three residential addresses in the state’s north,” a Department of Immigration and Citizenship spokesman said.

“They have been transferred to the Adelaide Immigration Transit Accommodation pending arrangements for their removal from Australia.

“The 19 were living unlawfully in Australia and have admitted to working illegally on farms in nearby areas.

“Investigations into the circumstances of these illegal workers’ employment are continuing.”

The departmental spokesman said employers should be aware it is a criminal offence to knowingly or recklessly allow a person to work illegally or to refer an illegal worker for work.

DIAC provides advice to employers about their obligations so as to assist them in complying with the law. Employers can verify online whether a person is entitled to work in Australia.

The Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) service is available to employers to check the relevant identification details of prospective employees, with their consent, to quickly confirm if they are eligible to work in Australia.

Employers convicted under Commonwealth legislation of having illegal workers face fines of up to $13 200 and two years’ imprisonment while companies face fines of up to $66 000 per illegal worker.

People with information about illegal workers or visa overstayers are encouraged to call the Immigration Dob-In Line on 1800 009 623.

Media enquiries: National Communications Branch 02 6264 2244

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