Australia Grapples with Over 70,000 Undocumented Residents, Raising Concerns of Exploitation

#illegal #residence

Over 70,000 undocumented people live in hiding in Australia, raising serious worries about exploitation. This is a serious problem that has to be addressed. The experiences of people like Shan illuminate the difficulties they face in a nation that has become a haven and a source of worry.

Unveiling Shan's Story

Unexpectedly, a small driving infraction caused Shan's secret existence in Australia, which he had spent six months building, to fall apart. When his licence was routinely checked, the authorities were notified that he was living in the nation without the required paperwork. 

Shan's adventure started with the idea of studying overseas, sparked by a friend's social media post that read, "Australia, here I come." 

For Shan, who was born and raised in Pakistan after 9/11, moving abroad looked like an unlikely dream. But in 2015, his perseverance paid off, and he was able to obtain a visa that allowed him to study business management in Melbourne.

However, Shan's Australian goal proved difficult as he found it difficult to blend in and ultimately stopped studying. After learning of his erratic attendance, the government revoked his student visa and gave him 28 days to go. 

Fearing rejection upon his return to Pakistan, Shan decided to remain in Sydney, embarking on a clandestine, unrecorded five-year existence. 

Driven into survival mode, he turned to odd jobs, and the occasional theft, creating a graphic portrait of the hardships that more than 70,000 Australians without legal status endure.

Bridging Visas and Exploitative Conditions

After running into trouble with the law, Shan was taken to the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre. He was later released, but his bridging visa prevented him from working. 

Shan has been stranded on this visa for five years, a temporary fix that never really worked out due to bureaucratic red tape. 32,949 people were on bridging visas as of late November, with no working privileges, which made them even more susceptible, according to the Department of Home Affairs.

"No Person is Illegal", written on a wall - Australia Grapples with Over 70,000 Undocumented Residents

Joshua Strutt, principal solicitor of the Immigration Advice and Rights Centre, clarifies the grave circumstances that unauthorised residents encounter. They are forced into dangerous circumstances and struggle to feed themselves as they have nowhere to sleep or work. People are forced underground by the government's strict restrictions, which increases their susceptibility to exploitation.

Exploitation, Legal Reforms, and Hope for Change

Because they constantly dread being deported, undocumented workers in Australia are especially vulnerable to exploitation. Employers frequently exploit this, developing a business strategy that evades labour regulations. 

Legal changes and visits by the Australian Border Force are two measures taken to stop this exploitation. The Australian government made it clear last year that all workers are covered by the Fair Work Act, regardless of their immigration status, to shield vulnerable immigrants from exploitation.

More legislative reforms are likely in store, possibly extending occupational health and safety regulations to undocumented workers. There are also plans to decriminalise illicit labour and grant temporary permits to those who wish to pursue legal action. 

Undocumented workers must be included in these reforms as the government tackles these problems to bring their challenges to light and create a more welcoming and safe atmosphere.


What are the typical causes of people staying in Australia longer than allowed by their visa?

Several things play a part, such as difficulties assimilating into Australian society, unanticipated events, and the need for chances that their home country might not provide.

What housing and employment problems do residents without documentation face?

Due to legal restrictions, undocumented individuals sometimes experience difficulty obtaining secure housing and employment. Shan's story serves as a reminder that they can turn to unusual ways of survival.


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