SEFOPE said one worker was detained by Australian police after leaving work to travel, while a second man has also committed "irregularities" (Image/stock)

DILI, 24 April 2020 (TATOLI) – The Secretary of State for Professional Training and Employment (SEFOPE) has confirmed a Timorese workers has been detained in Australia after taking leave of his Seasonal Workers Program (SWP) employer.

SEFOPE’s National Director, Filomeno Soares, said the worker has left his employer to travel around Australia, in breach of restrictions relating to Covid-19.

“Currently Australian Police has captured him and keep him there. We know [that] country has strict regulations,” he said.

Related news: Message to SWP Workers: Stay on the Farm, for Australia and for Timor-Leste

Mr Soares said a second SWP worker from Timor-Leste also committed an “irregularity”.

SEFOPE National Director, Filomeno Soares (Image/Natalino Costa)

“Our worker released himself from SWP to apply for a protection visa, in order to do work individually… [which] is difficult in Australia. Thus, currently the Australian police are looking for him,” Director Soares told TATOLI by phone.

“We received the information from the Timor-Leste attaché in Australia who is monitoring the workers. Our team in Darwin always updates us [with] the information,” he said.

Mr Soares said SEFOPE to ask all its workers to continue to follow the rules of other countries, and to show respect.

“We will continue cooperate with them, to adapt to their work system, so [it’s important] to maintain a good attitude towards the company, so they can continue put their trust in our workers,” he said.

Related news: Seasonal Workers Can Now Spend the Year in Australia

As of early April, there were around 1,200 Timorese participating in the SWP, according to the embassy in Canberra.

The Australian government announced earlier this month it would allow the workers already in the country to extend their stay up to 12 months, in a bid to minimise farm labour shortages there. However, ongoing travel restrictions due to Covid-19 have forced SEFOPE to suspend recruitment for the program indefinitely.

Journalist: Natalino Costa

Editors: Robert Baird, Julia Chatarina

Read the original Tetum here: Traballadór Timor-oan Na’in-Rua Komete Irregularidade iha Austrália

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