When I came to Australia I knew I would have to complete 88 days’ farm work in order to get a second working holiday visa to stay for an extra year in this amazing country. I knew the work wouldn’t be easy, and that at times it may not be the most enjoyable part of my time here but I knew in the end it would be worth it. Or would it?
I spent 7 weeks working on a dairy farm in Northern Victoria and at first it seemed like it would be a great place to work for my visa. I was responsible for calf rearing so spent my mornings and afternoons in calf pens feeding them and making sure they had water and straw.
I had read so many horror stories of backpackers stuck working for absolute bullies but the farmer seemed like a nice guy so I thought I had got lucky. However after just over a week I realised this wasn’t the case, and that he was just another bully.
We were constantly made to second guess every task we did, as if we did something it would be wrong but if we didn’t do it we would be told off for not doing so. We were screamed at and at one point even told that they would have to ‘start looking for other people’ when we didn’t know how to do a task we had never done before (I mean putting up electric fences is not something I did that often in my office job). Because of this I would wake up regularly during the night in a panic midway through a dream where I had done something wrong at work; this was definitely not the Aussie dream I had come looking for!
The list of shit we went through goes on (you’d be here for hours if I wrote it all down) and I spent every day questioning whether I really wanted a second visa and considered quitting almost every other day. But sadly I never got the luxury as the farmer beat me to it and as he put it ‘terminated’ me. Apparently I wasn’t up to the job, but he waited until the end of a pay period to tell me, probably so that it would be easier for his wife to sort out my pay, and I even had to sit through a meal with them the night before he sacked me!
Nobody should have to put up with this treatment at work, but I was willing to all in aid of a second year in Australia; and there are so many other backpackers who are currently or have been in the same position as me on farms all over the country. It’s sad that this is a fact of life for many backpackers who are so far away from home and that there isn’t really anything that can be done about it as the farmers know that we need to do this work for our visas; and I could easily end up back in that situation again as I still have 44 days worth of farm work to complete before I qualify for a second visa.
I just hope that next time I will be a bit luckier and end up working for a half decent human being who doesn’t kick dogs and snap cow tails all because he didn’t get enough sleep.