Unearthing new knowledge on undocumented migrant workers on farms

Whilst the prevalence of undocumented migrants working in the horticulture industry is widely accepted, little is known about the nature of their migration trajectories, employment on farms and the systems that produce reliance on undocumented migrants. To date, no study has been conducted which focuses solely on undocumented migrants on farms.

Stawberry picking

Additionally, no study has been undertaken on how and why undocumented migrants work on farms, including analysing the processes, systems and actors that contribute to their substantial involvement in horticulture. This project aims to fill this gap in knowledge as far as it is possible to do so, through conducting interviews with undocumented migrants who work on farms, their employers, and various other stakeholders.

Funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage grant, this this project seeks to analyse the role of undocumented migrants in the Australian horticulture industry from a multistakeholder approach, involving government, employers and workers. The four main aims of this project are as follows:

  • To unearth new knowledge on the role of undocumented migrants in farm labour supply;
  • to determine how and why undocumented migrants travel to Australia, access work on farms and remain undetected in the industry and Australia over time;
  • to identify how employers access undocumented migrants, their motivations for employing them, the role of third parties, such as labour hire contractors and accommodation providers, and how employers avoid detection; and
  • to generate policy recommendations for improving compliance with labour and immigration laws and to better manage farm labour supply, maximise the horticulture industry’s economic performance and ensure food security.