Farming couple ‘wanted second wife’

A British backpacker has revealed how a working holiday in Australia turned into a nightmare when the couple she was staying with hinted at other intentions.

The ABC today published stories from visitors who spent time in Australia on a working holiday visa program ahead of changes to the way the program is being run.

One of those people was Eleanor Juby, who spent time on a property northwest of Brisbane in 2012.

While there, she says it quickly became clear that her hosts were looking for more than help on the farm.

"The mum spent all of her time (on) polygamy websites, the dad would walk around in only his boxers and he said that when it came to summer, they all went naked," she said.

"He would pull me onto his lap if I walked past him."

Ms Juby said she soon realised the couple was looking for "a second wife".

She spent just nine days on the property, and said she lived in squalid conditions during her stay in Australia.

Pictures shared with the ABC show she was forced to live alongside farm animals.

The experience of work in Australia's regional towns was highlighted after the stabbing death of British backpacker Mia Ayliffe-Chung in 2017.

British backpacker Mia Ayliffe-Chung, 20, was stabbed to death.
British backpacker Mia Ayliffe-Chung, 20, was stabbed to death.

Ms Ayliffe-Chung had been living and working at Home Hill, 100kms south of Townsville, when she was attacked.

Frenchman Smail Ayad, who was also staying at the hostel and working at a nearby farm, stabbed the 20-year-old weeks out from her 21st birthday after reportedly becoming obsessed with her.

Backpackers shared their horror stories after Ms Ayliffe-Chung's death. Among them was Sarah Lupton, who told news.com.au she fell through a perspex shed roof and landed on back, breaking ribs, lacerating her liver and tearing her shoulder tendon.

"I thought, this isn't a dream, you're probably going to die," Ms Lupton told news.com.au. "The pain was coming from the back of my shoulder, I think it was my ribs breaking and the pressure on my lungs. I was finding it hard to breathe. It was hard not to panic. You go into survival mode, 'I've got to get through this'."

Her wage at the time was $17.50 an hour, and she typically worked 30 hours for 10 hours' pay each week plus food and accommodation, she said.

 

Backpackers have shared their horror stories from working in Australia.
Backpackers have shared their horror stories from working in Australia.

 

Sylviannie Pinon, from Toulouse in France, was told to pay upfront for two weeks' accommodation in Mildura, Victoria, and was given work picking grapes at a rate of around $1 per bucket, she told news.com.au.

"I started work at 6.30am and worked until 5.30pm without a break," she said.

"We didn't have access to a kitchen for lunch and were only given a refill of our water bottles once during the day.

"At the end of an 11-hour day spent under 43C, we had to count our buckets. I had 75 full buckets, which should have given me $75 roughly. I asked the owner if he could fill my form for the visa - the proof that I had spent one more day working in rural Australia in order to extend my visa - and he just refused."

Jodie Keiana, from Manchester, left her job picking squash in Queensland after a week.

"The farmer would only employ women because he was scared of men and he wouldn't let you drink water until you finished picking your row, which sometimes took an hour in 30-degree heat," the 25-year-old told news.com.au.

"He was a horrible old pervert. He would sit in his ute and shout at us if we stood up because our backs hurt."

The Morrison Government has announced it will expand the working holiday program to allow visa holders to stay in Australia for three years if they do farming work.

The move, designed to meet a labour shortage on Australian farms, comes into effect on July 1.

Additional reporting by Emma Reynolds

She had been working in Home Hill near Townsville.
She had been working in Home Hill near Townsville.

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