Some Irish people applying for jobs in Australia are being told: “we only hire Australians”, an RTE documentary reveals tonight.
Every year, more than 15,000 Irish people head Down Under for a new life, hoping that they're going somewhere that's similar to home, only with better beaches and better weather.
However, the darker side to working in Australia for Irish immigrants is explored in Making it Down Under on RTÉ One tonight.
Jake Haynes from Dublin tells viewers: “In Ireland I just finished in UCD, the year before I came and I thought when I came out here I would be able to use my degree but all the places I applied for were like ‘we only hire Australian people’. If you said that at home in Ireland – we only hire Irish people – there would be uproar”.
Later in the programme, Jake, who travelled to Australia on a working holiday visa, warns viewers: “They paint this picture of ‘it’s all cocktails and beaches’ but it’s really not. There really is an untold side to the story. Some people survive over here but some people don’t”.
Making it Down Under is a documentary series on RTE One detailing the experiences of Irish people who have emigrated to Australia for work.
On tonight’s episode Jake’s best friend, Philip Healy from Co Louth, also talks about the dark side of working in Oz. Philip, who has been living in Australia for more than year and has good employment with a Sydney hairdressers, tells the Making it Down Under cameras that Irish backpackers can be exploited by unscrupulous employers.
“You can get used here,” Philip says, “Some people can see ‘backpacker, get them’. It has happened to people that I know. Underpay them, work them way over the hours that they are supposed to be working, don’t get holiday pay... They will use you, they will work you into the ground but they know that the Irish are the best workers, so, they will try to get what they can out of you”.
Making it Down Under airs tonight [Wednesday] on RTE One at 8.30pm.
One of Australia’s best-loved poems, My Country, written by Dorothy Mackellar in 1904 includes the lines: I love a sunburnt country/A land of sweeping plains, although in the same stanza she mentions Her beauty and her terror. EM Reapy, in this startling debut novel, writes more about the terror than the beauty in her tale of three Irish backpackers in Australia, looking for work, drugs, booze, sex, adventure and some sense of hope that things will get better, as their experiences in the “sunburnt country” don’t quite work out as planned.