Irishman Ciarán Egan says he wouldn’t put a dog in the accommodation he was provided on a Victorian farm.
Ciarán and his girlfriend Grace Parker hoped to complete their three months rural work on an asparagus farm to get their second working holiday visa. But they left after 15 minutes when they were confronted with a blood-stained mattress and reports of rats in the run-down house.
“We walked in and I honestly couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting the Hilton Hotel and I knew it was going to be hard work. But you expect hot water at least for a shower. I had heard stories before but had never witnessed it.”
Ciarán, who was asked to pay $70 a week per person rent, said the house had four rooms with bunk beds and one room had three mattresses on the floor. The couple, from Castleknock, Dublin, met four Irish people in the house in the Garfield area who have since left.
“I didn’t see them but they said there were rats running around the bedroom at night and they could hear them in the ceiling. And there was a possum in the attic,” he said.
“There was no cutlery, no pots and pans to cook in until the Irish arrived and brought their stuff. The cooker had dirt all on the top of it and it had broken the previous day.”
One young woman from Waterford started to cry when she told them about where she was living. And Cork couple Gillian Salter and David O’Sullivan lasted just eight days. During her brief stay Gillian was confronted with rat droppings, no locks on doors, no washing machine, no fridge and a shower she described as “like something from a horror movie”.
She was told she would not get paid for the week if she took a day off. She is still waiting for $300 for six days of shifts, which lasted about 12 hours each.
Gillian is worried their chance of staying in Australia has been ruined; if she does not get rural work soon she will have to return home. She is angry with the website that sent them to the farm.
“If they are going to send people places they should investigate it’s right before messing with people’s lives.”
Farm leader Seb Domagin told the Irish Echo new bunk beds were recently placed in the house and the blood-stained mattress was gone. It is understood the mattress was brought in from a shed by another resident.
He said the house was old and claimed the hot water was on a timer which came on at 5am. When asked about rats he said: “I don’t know because I don’t stay there.” Mr Domagin did not know who owned the house.
The 2nd Year Visa Jobs website, where the two couples secured the jobs, is owned by Major Ventures. Owner Matthew Major was sorry for what happened and said they took the word of another contractor and a hostel they had a working relationship with.
“It’s obviously turned out to be a rather unfortunate and regrettable circumstance. We feel absolutely horrible that they were exposed to what appeared to be, and I have seen the photos, just unsatisfactory living conditions. This sort of exposure is devastating for us,” he said.