The Australian Government is committed to making sure the agricultural sector has the workers it needs in the right place at the right time and within the necessary health guidelines.
Throughout the pandemic the Australian Government has implemented a broad range of measures to support farmers access the workers they need and mobilise people to take up these roles.
These measures include:
- Visa extensions and additional flexibility to encourage temporary visa holders already here to work in agriculture.
- Financial support is available to individuals who temporarily relocate to take up short-term agricultural work for at least 6 weeks. Australians are eligible to claim up to $6,000 when they relocate to take up this work and those who have a right to work in Australia are eligible to claim up to $2,000.
- To incentivise young Australians to undertake seasonal work in the agricultural industry, the Government has introduced new, temporary independence criteria for Youth Allowance (student) and ABSTUDY. Under the new criteria, a young person who earns $15,000 through employment in the agricultural industry between 30 November 2020 and 31 December 2021 will be considered independent for the purposes of Youth Allowance (student) and ABSTUDY.
- The Government is also encouraging Australian job seekers to take up seasonal work opportunities through reforms to Harvest Trail Services, which link workers with seasonal harvest jobs.
- The Government also recommenced targeted recruitment under the Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Programme. Since the reopening we have seen 2,340 Pacific and Timorese workers arrive into six states and territories to help with agricultural labour needs.
As the COVID-19 pandemic and workforce needs continue to evolve the Government will continue to consider new measures – in addition to those already available to ensure the sector has the workforce it needs now and into the future.