Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Seasonal workers alert police to Bamawm property

Campaspe Shire environmental health officers and Rochester police came to the assistance of 13 foreign nationals at a farmhouse in Bamawm on Thursday.

ELAINE COONEY January 16, 2014 4:45am

Foreign seasonal workers who were transported from a Bamawm property by police were looking forward to getting the bus to Melbourne on Thursday.

A Bamawm property is being investigated for allegedly offering illegal accommodation to seasonal workers.

Campaspe Shire environmental health officers and Rochester police came to the assistance of 13 foreign nationals who were staying at a farmhouse in Bamawm on Thursday.

Campaspe News understands 21 people were staying at the property.

Campaspe Shire’s people and places manager Paul McKenzie said an investigation was launched and interviews were done.

‘‘Council intends to serve the operator with a prohibition notice as soon as possible,’’ he said.

‘‘If the notice is not complied with, the Shire of Campaspe will pursue prosecution under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act and Regulations.

Senior Constable Simon Pearson of Rochester police said the group from China and Taiwan called police after a dispute with a farm contractor.

‘‘They had no means of getting away from the place and were reasonably isolated,’’ he said.

He said they were picked up at Rochester station and brought to the property and did not have independent transport.

Campaspe News believes many of the visitors stayed at the property for about two weeks.

Sen. Constable Pearson said they were relieved to leave the property when he arrived to bring them to Rochester on Thursday.

He said the other residents had farm work and were happy to stay on.

Sergeant Dale Simm of Rochester police said the group found farm work online but it did not work out.

‘‘They were left high and dry and they were out of pocket financially,’’ he said.

‘‘They weren’t happy it was costing them money.’’

Sen. Constable Pearson offered translation services for the visitors to explain their case but no criminal offence was committed.

‘‘We worked with the shire’s environmental health officer because we were concerned the facility was not up to the required standard.’’

He said he was worried about the fire risk and the number of people staying at an isolated farm hours in terms of supplying enough water and beds.

‘‘I don’t want to see anyone badly treated,’’ he said.

He said the group was made up educated, decent people with limited English.

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