Small number of incidents may give a negative image of the Irish Working Holiday Makers

The small number of Irish working holidaymakers, who were involved in several shoddy incidents may give a bad name to the vast majority of young Irish people, who are coming to Australia on a working holiday visa.

Currently, there are 21,753 people from Ireland in Australia under the working holiday visa program. This is an absolute record number, which is 50% higher than in the same period of the previous year. Nevertheless, it is expected that even this number will be surpassed when the new statistics are released at the end of this year.

There is also a record 20% increase in the number of Irish people, working in Australia with a 457 Visa (Australian Sponsorship Visa). This visa is usually given to professionals in areas such as engineering, medicine and computer science.

During this year, however, a small number of working holidaymakers were involved in a set of incidents that may hurt the image of the Irish community in Australia. In January, for example, a group of Irish people were charged with working illegally on a building project in New South Wales and were consequently deported.

In February in the same province, there was a similar incident registered. In Queensland, a small number of bitumen-layers was requesting payments of several thousand dollars for low-quality work.

During April and Irish man was convicted for using stolen credit cards. Michael Hegarty from County Meath, together with to accomplice from Australia, bought stolen credit card numbers from internet and managed to spend 35 000 Australian dollars from them before being caught by the police and convicted to 90 days in jail and 150 hours of unpaid community work.

The money was mainly spent on limousines, luxury hotels, and expensive meals at local restaurants. In May a group of Irish Working Holiday Makers in Perth were warned by the police, that they may be deported if they do not stop with their antisocial behaviour. The police were seeking help from various GAA clubs to spread the message. In one email that was sent by one such club to its members, it can be read.

“The WA [Western Australian] police are extremely unhappy and appalled by the antisocial behaviour which is taking place all too often on the streets. Even rental agencies are not as willing to rent properties to Irish people here in Perth as they are getting destroyed during parties, and left in terrible conditions once vacated.”

Regardless of all the bad behaviour, Irish people will continue to be welcomed in Australia. The country is currently experiencing a resource boom. With unemployment of 4,5%, Australia suffers from severe labour shortages. Many companies see import foreign workers as a solution to this problem. Recently the government announced that it will allow 1,700 foreigners to work on a $9 billion iron ore mining project in Western Australia. It is expected that most of the workers will be Irish.

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