In fresh news in the horticultural world, the members of the agricultural domain are calling for a trial of the newly announced agricultural visa. This novel endeavour is attempting to battle the labour shortages that have been caused due to the pandemic. Moreover, the government officials want it to come into effect before the end of this year. The Australian Fresh Produce Alliance (AFPA) has heartily supported the advent of the new visa; which may be identified as a dedicated Seasonal Agriculture Worker’s visa. A major benefit of this new addition is that it will reduce the agricultural industry’s reliance on backpackers and focuses on better pathways for employing Australian’s, workers from the Pacific and new Seasonal Agriculture Worker visa holders.
The AFPA is calling on the government to implement a trial of the Seasonal Agriculture Worker visa and focus on a group of registered employers, prospective visa holders and sending countries. A smaller-scale trial will also enable the industry to work with relevant agencies in managing quarantine pathways for Seasonal Agriculture Worker visa holders travelling to Australia.
It is critical that we implement the Seasonal Agriculture Worker Visa this year to provide additional workers for the summer harvest, and to support the structural workforce changes underway in the sector. A trial will allow the Government’s commitment to be implemented quickly while also testing the parameters of the new visa program” said Mr Rogers.
The closure of Australia’s international borders has reduced the number of working holidaymakers in the country from over 140,000 at the beginning of the pandemic to approximately 37,000. During the same period, more than 9,000 Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme visa holders from the Pacific have filled critical workforce shortages in horticulture, meat processing, manufacturing and accommodation sectors.
The Australian fresh produce industry is in the midst of a workforce restructure and the adoption of new workforce planning and management. An increase in the Pacific programs, as well as the new Seasonal Agriculture Worker Visa, will form the backbone of the harvest workforce and lead to increases in productivity, remuneration and stability over the long term.
Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)