Seasonal workers and Working Holiday Makers pilot programme to be trialled in the Northern Territory
On 5 August, 2020 Australian and Northern Territory Governments have agreed to conduct a trial aimed at addressing the labour shortages affecting NT farmers. “This trial will see up to 170 workers under the Seasonal Worker Programme come to Australia to help with the 2020 harvest, with more workers to potentially follow subject to a review of the first cohort and approval for additional numbers by the NT Government.
“The Territory’s growers, more than any others, rely on seasonal workers and working holidaymakers- COVID-19 has virtually stopped that labour supply. “With appropriate quarantine arrangements in place, seasonal and Pacific workers can continue to safely support Australian farmers facing critical workforce shortages.
“Farmers can only employ people under the Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme if they can demonstrate that no Australian is available to do the work.” The trial builds on the visa changes the Government has already made to keep temporary workers in Australia longer to support critical sectors like agriculture during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recognising the importance of seasonal workers to the Australian economy, the Australian Government in April announced temporary changes to visa arrangements allowing Seasonal Worker Programme participants to extend their stay in Australia and continue working for up to 12 months.
- The Northern Territory Farmer’s Association forecasts a shortage of 800 to 1,000 workers from this month.
- This industry produced almost half of our national production of mangoes in 2018-19 – 32,900 tonnes worth nearly $109 million.
- Northern Territory horticulture industry production in 2018-19 was valued at $251.2 million, with indirect impact on the rest of the NT economy estimated at $128.1 million.
- The Northern Territory horticulture industry directly employs an approximately 4,300 people with another 2,100 people employed indirectly.
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