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88 days spoiled by a few bad farmers

October 2nd, 2018 | | 88 days

Six months into her holiday, French backpacker Ludmilla Cek posted an online ad looking for farm work.

She received a response from one farmer which sounded promising.

“It was four hours’ driving from Brisbane, in the middle of nowhere,” she told 7.30.

“When I arrived, I found a really dirty house with a really dirty farmer.

“He knocked and I said, ‘I’m having a shower, don’t come in’, but he came in anyway.”

Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.

Ms. Cek said the farmer didn’t touch her.

“I was so scared of him I posted on Facebook to ask if someone knew the farm, or anything about him and I heard a lot of bad things,” she said.

“I heard about a girl who was here four days before me who was a victim of sexual assault.

“He tried to remove her bra, he tried to put his hand down her pants.”

She slept with a knife under her pillow and called police the next day to help her flee the remote property.

She never made an official complaint, because no assault ever occurred.

The farmer declined to comment.

‘Some growers spoil it for everyone’

In order to stay a second year in Australia, backpackers need to do 88 days of work either on a farm, in construction or in mining.

Ludmilla gave up on the 88 days, but last financial year nearly 33,000 backpackers completed it and were granted a second-year visa.

The vast majority, 94 per cent, worked on farms and the industry group Growcom acknowledged there had been some issues.

“We have lots of examples of where backpackers and the growers have a great relationship,” the group’s chief advocate, Rachel Mackenzie, said.

“Unfortunately there are some growers who spoil it for everyone.

“Our work force has a tendency towards being vulnerable because it’s seasonal, short-term and casual.”

A senate investigation last year found allegations of “exploitation” and “slavery-like” conditions for backpackers in Australia.

It called for an urgent review of the 88-day program.

Ms Mackenzie said part of the problem was that while growers need a seasonal workforce, backpackers may not be the best fit.

“We have a whole bunch of people who don’t necessarily want to work in agriculture who feel forced to be working in agriculture,” she said.

“It has been a really neat fit for backpackers with the 88 days and we don’t want to see that taken away but I think we need to look for a longer-term solution.”

Edit: With the shelving of the ag visa (see article, 03/10/18), we do need a solution to not only help farmers with their crops but also offer backpackers a better solution to staying in Australia and having a better experience.

Comments welcome.

 

Source: ABC

Sourced by Mike Barrow