PERTH: Seven members of a Malaysian family, including a teenage boy, were detained during a raid on the “squalid” rental house they lived in, as part of a national operation targeting the exploitation of foreign workers.
Four men, two women and a 13-year-old boy – all extended members of the same family – were detained at the rental house in the southern Perth suburb of Anketell on Wednesday (Jan 16), the Australian Border Force (ABF) said in a press release on Thursday.
One of the men, a 28-year-old who has been living in Australia illegally since July 2017, is suspected of being involved in illegal worker exploitation in the agriculture sector, and of acting as an unregistered migrant agent.
The other men detained were two of his brothers, aged 24 and 23, and his father, 54.
His 47-year-old mother, 24-year-old sister-in-law and 13-year-old brother were also detained.
All were living illegally in Australia, ABF said, adding that the two adult brothers are also suspected of working illegally.
The family members are being held in detention centres and are expected to be sent back to Malaysia “as soon as practicable”, officials said.
ABF superintendent of enforcement operations in Western Australia Clint Sims said that conditions in the rental house were “squalid to say the least”.
“The exploitation of illegal workers is a blight on our society. Those workers are extremely vulnerable and are often underpaid and poorly treated,” he said.
“The unscrupulous individuals facilitating illegal worker exploitation are making significant profits at their expense, and it also disadvantages local businesses who do the right thing by paying and treating their workers properly.”
The detention of the Malaysian family is part of Operation Battenrun, a larger national operation targeting unscrupulous labour hire intermediaries and foreign worker exploitation.