Fresh Produce Alliance (AFPA), an industry group, is currently calling for a trial of the new agricultural visa that was announced. Furthermore, they have requested this trial while the employment standards are kept in mind while ensuring the welfare of the employees. In fact, the organisation has also published its own take on the visa rules and regulations. At the present moment, this opportunity is presented to all 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries. The newest take of the visa, presented by the AFPA, has called for requirements such as a harmony and compliance with the existing ethical sourcing programs. Also, they demand that the government provides eligible candidates with contracts that specify particular terms and conditions.
Standards proposed by the AFPA are similar to those required for Approved Employers under the Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme currently accessed by a number of employers in horticulture. Mr David Littleproud emphasized the ethical aspect of the visa while announcing it. Like the Seasonal Worker Programme, the new visa arrangement is projected to contain regulations to ensure workers are protected, not subject to exploitation and that the visa is not misused. Also, pay and conditions, health, and work and safety will also be in line with similar requirements and protections under the Seasonal Worker Programme.
The government want to ensure the integrity of the new visa is upheld, with only those employers who can demonstrate high standards of employment practice able to access these workers. This could involve requiring employers to gain certification through ethical sourcing programs including Fair Farms, delivered by Growcom and recently in receipt of a funding boost from the Morrison Government to fast track grower uptake. In this COVID environment, we’re seeing acute labour shortfalls across the industry, so any measures put in place to build the workforce is welcomed.