Backpacking fruit pickers have become victims of a scam offering non-existent work.GEOFF ADAMS January 10, 2013 4:05am
Julien Aufrere (left) and Francois Bernard have travelled a long way to pick fruit in the Goulburn Valley.
A French backpacking couple has been ripped off by two men posing as fruit picking contractors.
The man and woman, here for the fruit season, paid $90 each for jobs which were never delivered.
The Harvest Labour Office has reminded people seeking work the jobs the office finds have no charge or fee because the service is federally funded.
Hundreds of backpackers are now working to bring in the apricot crop but CVGT branch manager Vaughan Adams said most jobs were filled at the moment and more vacancies would be available later in the month when the peaches and pears ripened.
The French travellers told their story to the Harvest Labour Office earlier in the season when it became obvious they had been tricked.
Following an email, they had met two men at the rear of a supermarket car park in Mooroopna and had been promised picking equipment and jobs by the end of the day.
When they did not get a call, they tried the mobile phone number they were given, but could not get through.
Mr Adams said they found a generous grower at Kialla East who had offered the couple free accommodation while waiting for a job on the orchard.
‘‘It turned out okay, but it could have been a dark experience for this couple, and we don’t want the GV to get a reputation like that.’’
Mr Adams is aware bad news travels fast on the Internet and many of the pickers use electronic networks to find work, get accommodation and warn of dangers.
Harvest labour co-ordinator Denise Elliot said they don’t encourage pickers to move to the area before about the third week in January or without having secured a job.
‘‘There tends to be a flow that starts just after Christmas-New Year,’’ Ms Elliot said.
‘‘After they have arrived on the east coast they tend to move down here for the apricots.
‘‘We encourage travellers to get in touch with us first. Otherwise they could be waiting and paying for accommodation.’’
Backpackers have been taking advantage of the opportunity to extend their Australian visas by working in agricultural jobs for specified periods.
Poor economic conditions in Europe have increased the numbers.
Another French traveller, Julien Aufrere, wanted a working holiday and the opportunity to improve his English.
He met fellow Frenchman Francois Bernard while in Australia and the two of them were in Shepparton last week chasing work.
Francois has been picking capsicums near Melbourne and broccoli in NSW.
‘‘There are no jobs,’’ he said of his home country.
Hafizullah Mohaqiq was born in Afghanistan, spent periods living in Pakistan and Iran, before arriving in Shepparton two months ago.
The Mulwala Lions had satisfying and hard fought win, in difficult conditions, against last year’s grand finalists at Lonsdale Reserve on Saturday.
The Fairley Leadership Program met in Tatura on Wednesday, exploring ‘Water and our catchment’ at Goulburn Murray Water.
Road authorities have made little progress to fixing Echuca’s most dangerous intersections.
Lockington Vintage Tractor and Stationary Engine Rally is on for the 18th time this weekend and there is something for everyone.
Kyabram and District Sportstar of the Year nominations finalised
Three local clubs get together at Kings Park.
Tributes flow for Finley's inspiring mother, friend and farming advocate Jennifer Hawkins
A visit by Coliban Water to Heathcote last week provided residents with a chance to quiz staff about water and sewer services.
A new book, Men from the River Bends, honours Cobram-Barooga and district soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice after enlisting in World War 1.
Deniliquin bowler Dennis O'Keefe lost 25-19 in his bid for a quarter-final spot in the Victorian Singles Championships this week.
Widespread rain late last week and on Saturday put a smile on the faces of farmers preparing to sow crops or waiting for weeds to emerge on early-sown rye-grass.
Discover unbelievable local deals from local businesses every week in the Goulburn and Murray Valley area with Leapon.com.au!
Search properties for sale or rent across North Central Victoria and Southern NSW. Visit your local website for local homes....
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.