`Australia Offers Growers Help Managing Workforce Restrictions

Australia / NZ

Australia Offers Growers Help Managing Workforce Restrictions

Apr. 22, 2020
Lisa Anderson

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The Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment threw farm­ers a life­line ear­lier this month when it announced the exten­sion of visas for for­eign work­ers in agri­cul­ture and food pro­cess­ing dur­ing the COVID-19 cri­sis, but work­ers will still need to self-iso­late for 14 days when mov­ing to a new region.

The exten­sion allows grow­ers access to work­ing trav­el­ers and gives them access to work­ers within the Pacific Labour Scheme, which per­mits Pacific Islanders to work in Aus­tralia, and the Sea­sonal Worker Pro­gramme, which autho­rizes Pacific Islanders and Tim­o­rese to fill employ­ment gaps that can­not be filled by locals.

The visa changes pro­vide work­ing trav­el­ers in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor an exemp­tion from the restric­tions that lim­its work with an agri­cul­tural employer to six months.

In response to the announce­ment, Australia’s National Farm­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion (NFF) pres­i­dent Fiona Sim­son expressed her grat­i­tude to the gov­ern­ment for under­stand­ing the impor­tance of for­eign work­ers as farm labor­ers.

See more: Coro­n­avirus Cri­sis

Sim­son pointed out that farm­ers would still pre­fer to employ local work­ers though, and she encour­aged Aus­tralians who are unem­ployed to con­sider farm work where pos­si­ble.

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Vir­gin Aus­tralia pilots who have lost their jobs due to the coro­n­avirus cri­sis have report­edly started work­ing as farm labor­ers already.

But Sim­son said Aus­tralians are not very inter­ested in farm work at a time when peo­ple want to stay close to their fam­i­lies.

To fur­ther assist the country’s grow­ers and work­ers dur­ing this time, the NFF has devel­oped a COVID-19 Work­place Guide.

The hand­book pro­vides guide­lines on indus­trial rela­tions, hygiene prac­tices, work­ers’ accom­mo­da­tions, quar­an­tine and more.

This resource can be down­loaded from the Aus­tralian Olive Asso­ci­a­tion (AOA) web­site, which pro­vides grow­ers with addi­tional resources to man­age COVID-19 chal­lenges.


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