Release type: Joint Media Release


Seasonal Worker Programme Northern Australia tourism pilot takes off


Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Employment
Minister for Women
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service
Senator for Western Australia
Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck
Minister for Tourism and International Education
Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment
Senator the Hon Matthew Canavan
Minister for Northern Australia

Australian tourism businesses across Northern Australia will now be able to employ seasonal workers from nine Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste to help fill seasonal labour shortages.

Today the Minister for Employment, Senator Cash, the Minister for Tourism and International Education, Senator Colbeck, and the Minister for Northern Australia, Senator Canavan, announced the commencement of the Seasonal Worker Programme Northern Australia tourism pilot, building on the current operation of the programme in the accommodation sector in selected locations in Australia.

Tourism plays a crucial role in contributing to the Northern Australian economy, with tourism workers often needed outside of standard business hours in the peak season. This pilot contributes to the Government’s commitment to increase the number of tourists visiting Northern Australia and unlock the vast potential for economic growth in our northern regions.

The tourism pilot was developed in close consultation with peak industry organisations and provides a range of opportunities in jobs not currently available to seasonal workers under the programme. A full list of jobs seasonal workers can be employed in under the tourism pilot can be found at

Minister Colbeck said the tourism pilot will help businesses in the tourism industry overcome seasonal labour shortages, providing an alternative source of reliable workers for employers who cannot find enough Australians to do the job.

"Australia’s tourism and hospitality sector currently has an estimated 37,000 unfilled vacancies and is forecast to require an additional 123,000 new workers by 2020.

"The expected growth in the tourism sector in Northern Australia is exciting however it also means we need to ensure there is access to a workforce to provide the quality of services that visitors to Australia expect," Minister Colbeck said.

Minister Cash said an important integrity measure of the programme was the need for employers to fully test the local job market before they can apply to recruit seasonal workers.

"While we are determined to ensure businesses across Australia have access to the seasonal workers they need, we are equally determined that no Australian misses out on a job," Minister Cash said.

"All workers who perform work under the Seasonal Worker Programme are protected by Australian workplace laws, in the same manner as Australian workers."

Minister Canavan said a number of operators in northern Australia had stressed the need for seasonal workers in the tourism industry.

"This initiative will help meet the identified need for seasonal staff as the tourism industry continues to expand across the top of the continent," Senator Canavan said. "While northern Australia holds many of the nation’s most attractive tourism destinations, it is home to just 5 per cent of our population.

"This pilot will contribute to the Government’s work to supply business with the staff it needs to thrive, while including clear guidelines to protect local jobs."

The Government maintains an Australian job seeker first policy. As the tourism pilot operates in Northern Australia, employers will be encouraged to consider the employment of Indigenous job seekers before applying for workers under the Seasonal Worker Programme.

This initiative is part of the Australian Government’s White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, the government’s plan to unlock the great potential and opportunities of the north. For more information on the White Paper, visit   

To apply to recruit seasonal workers visit:

For more information about the Seasonal Worker Programme visit: