Legal help for GV visa workers

By Country News

The Victorian Government will deliver more than $580000 to fund a program to protect the wages and conditions of temporary visa workers across the state, including a new lawyer being employed at Goulburn Valley Community Legal Centre.

The grant will be invested in lawyers and legal education in key regional areas over two years to make temporary visa workers aware of their workplace rights and enable them to enforce those rights.

‘‘We think this is a great initiative, which will give employees and employers a greater understanding of their respective rights and regulations,’’ Goulburn Valley Community Legal Centre manager and principal solicitor Kaz Gurney said.

‘‘The hope is that we can resolve most issues here, rather than them be sent to be resolved by our statewide partner, JobWatch, in Melbourne.’’

Victorian Legal Aid will administer the funding to both the Goulburn Valley and Barwon community legal centres as well as JobWatch on behalf of Agriculture Victoria.

The government said the program would attract more workers to the regions.

‘‘We’re making sure temporary visa workers get the information and protection they deserve,’’ Industrial Relations Minister Natalie Hutchins said.

‘‘Ensuring temporary visa workers are treated fairly and aren’t exploited is the right thing to do, and will help attract more of these vital workers to our regions.’’

The services are not yet up and running, with an expected start date to be in three to four months.

JobWatch will field all calls and referrals until these services are up and running.

■For information phone JobWatch on 1800 331 617.