The Morrison Government has created a new visa extending the stay of critical seasonal workers to ensure the agricultural sector has the labour force it needs.
Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme workers will have visa conditions relaxed and be given an option to extend their stay for up to one year.
Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Senator Michaelia Cash said this change would bring much needed certainty for employers and workers alike.
“This visa will ensure that farmers and workers have the confidence to perform their important work helping to ensure the supply of fresh food to Australians,” Minister Cash said.
“This is a difficult period for everyone and this is a common sense change to support employers, seasonal workers, and our agricultural sector during the many challenges we are facing across the economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our rural and regional communities will continue to benefit, with these workers addressing acute labour requirements across the sector and ensuring fresh produce continues to be supplied to shops and supermarkets across the country.”
Any extensions will be subject to Seasonal Worker approved employers engaging with the Department of Education, Skills and Employment on labour market testing to ensure Australian jobseekers are given the opportunity to work.
The same conditions under the Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme visa arrangements, including employer sponsorship, will be carried over to the new visa arrangements, continuing the link with the agricultural sector.
“For those who come to the end of their placement and can’t return home, my department, working with Approved Employer, can help them move to a new placement, if they agree, to meet the labour demand of farmers.
“We will work closely with Approved Employers to implement these measures to ensure employers can access the workers they need.”