AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT DELIVERING SEASONAL LABOUR SOLUTIONS FOR FARMERS

The Australian Government is investing $33.7 million to support farmers by encouraging Australians to take a ‘domestic gap year’ and enabling eligible temporary visa holders to work in the agriculture sector.

Federal Member for Forrest Nola Marino said the South West agriculture sector is facing unprecedented pressure on labour supply as a result of COVID-19.

“The Morrison Government is investing in relocation support and temporary Youth Allowance (YA) and ABSTUDY eligibility changes, to incentivise people to take up seasonal farm work this summer,” Ms Marino said.

“Relocation allowances of up to $6,000 for Australians and up to $2,000 for eligible visa holders will be available from 1 November to undertake at least six weeks of seasonal work in agriculture,” Ms Marino said.

“Under the Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY new criteria, a person who earns $15,000 through employment in the agricultural sector in regional Australia between 30 November 2020 and 31 December 2021 will be considered as independent for the purpose of YA (student) or ABSTUDY.

“This will significantly reduce the time needed for a young person to gain ‘independent’ status and claim Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY faster than under the existing criteria.

“These changes will support agricultural production in the South West so that farm produce does not go to waste, ensuring the agricultural sector continues to play a key role in our local and national economic recovery.

The Australian Government is also investing a further $9 million in the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) to ensure employers can meet critical seasonal labour needs.

This funding will help ensure that the SWP has the resources to accommodate the significant growth of the program and ensure appropriate oversight of the program is in place to protect the welfare of workers.

Measures the Australian Government has already introduced to fill labour shortages in the agriculture sector since the onset of COVID-19 include;

• providing visa extensions to allow temporary visa holders already here to continue to work in agriculture and for agriculture workers to stay with one employer for a longer period,

• initiating a targeted recruitment trial under the Seasonal Worker Programme,

• announcing on 21 August the recommencement of targeted recruitment under the Pacific Labour Scheme and SWP to help meet the workforce needs of critical sectors, including agriculture.

More information on the additional support being provided can be found at:
https://www.employment.gov.au/seasonal-worker-programme
https://www.dese.gov.au/budget-2020-21
https://www.dss.gov.au/about-the-department/publications-articles/corporate-publications/budget-and-additional-estimates-statements/budget-2020-21