Contact Melissa Denning
vegetablesWA Labour Scheme Facilitator
0477 477 044
Contact Melissa Denning
Labour has been identified as a critical issue in 2020. Our usual workforce of backpackers (417 and 462 visa holders) has reduced by up to 60 per cent and it is unlikely that significant numbers will start to return before 2022.
WA growers are starting to look outside the common avenues for recruiting workers. Facebook, Gumtree and using the local hostel have proven effective in the past but this method is now proving more difficult.
Possible options to recruit workers
- Funded by the Federal Department of Education, Skills and Employment, the Harvest Trail Office is located in Vasse and can assist employers located between Dandaragan and Pemberton
- Free service to growers
- Currently has a database of over 800 workers
- Contact: Bernice: 08 6166 9124 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Funded by the Federal Department of Education, Skills and Employment, the HTIS is located in Mildura and can assist employers in Western Australia that are not covered by the Harvest Trail Office.
- Free service to growers
- Has a large online presence
- Contact: MADEC: 1800 062 332
- Growers apply to become Approved Employers by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE)
- Growers must be Pty Ltd companies and pay under the Federal Modern Horticultural Award 2010.
- The Approval process can take up to 9 months
- Checks are made with ATP, Immigration and Fairwork to ensure the employer is of good standing
- Once approved it then takes approximately another 2-3 months to recruit workers
- Employers are responsible for arranging, accommodation, welfare plans and transport for the workers.
- The programme is very regulated and each employer is usually visited by Fairwork at least once in their first year and at least 4 reports on pay rates are required to be submitted.
- Workers are guaranteed an average of 30 hours of work over the time of their contract
- Workers can stay for up to 9 months each year
- Workers can return year after year
- Workers are 20-30% more productive in their 2nd year
- Some Labour Hire Companies are already approved under the SWP so this can take out the initial approval process period and result in workers arriving quicker.
- The Labour Hire Company will be the employer of the worker so ensures the workers is paid correctly as per the award.
- The Labour Hire Company will also make the arrangement for accommodation, transport and welfare checks on the workers
- Labour Hire companies that currently operate in WA can be found in this link
Primary Industries Workers Regional Travel and Accommodation Support Scheme
The State Government is investing $3 million in the ‘Primary Industries Workers Regional Travel and Accommodation Support Scheme’ to attract young people to work in the regions to help satisfy demand for short-term agricultural jobs, created by the loss of the backpackers’ workforce due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The State Government is providing a rebate of up to $3360 for accommodation costs, with a relocation and travel allowance of up to $500 also available.
Under the scheme, people who relocate more than 100kms from their home to take up agricultural, fisheries or food processing work in the regions will be able to claim a $40 per night accommodation rebate for up to 12 weeks. The rebate will apply to regional accommodation costs incurred from 21 September 2020, to meet the spring/summer horticultural and grains harvest labour demand. A minimum of two weeks verified work is required before a claim can be made.
The Scheme Explained
The Primary Industries Workers Regional Travel and Accommodation Support Scheme will provide targeted assistance to farming, fisheries and food processing businesses in regional areas experiencing labour shortages as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The scheme will provide new opportunities for WA job seekers, encourage regional work and travel, and help people access jobs in the regions.
The funding will provide an accommodation allowance of $40 per night from 21 September 2020 plus a travel allowance to eligible and approved applicants.
An approved applicant can apply for:
An accommodation allowance of $40 per night ($280 week) for each night living away from home to take up eligible employment in regional area, up to a maximum of 12 weeks.
A one-off travel allowance with the payment amount based on the region in which they have taken up employment being:
- an allowance of $150 to eligible applicants taking up employment in the Peel, South West, Great Southern, Wheatbelt, Mid-West and Goldfields-Esperance regions.
- an allowance of $350 to eligible applicants taking up employment in the Gascoyne or Pilbara regions.
- an allowance of $500 to eligible applicants taking up employment in the Kimberley region.
- Rebate of up to $3360 for accommodation costs
- Relocation and travel allowance of up to $500
- $40 per night accommodation rebate
A person living in Western Australia who:
- has the right to work in Australia; but
- is not in Australia as a Working Holiday Maker, Seasonal Worker Program or Pacific Labour Scheme participant;
- has relocated more than 100 kilometres from their usual home address to take up an employment opportunity in regional WA.
- has taken up employment in an eligible agriculture, fisheries and food processing job for a primary producer, a labour hire or contracting business since the 9 September 2020.
- has worked for at least 2 consecutive weeks for the same employer in regional WA;
- has met all other criteria outlined in these guidelines.