Contact Melissa Denning
vegetablesWA Labour Scheme Facilitator
0477 477 044

Finding Workers

As backpacker numbers continue to drop the vegetable industry is facing significant challenges. At this time of year, there are usually about 144,000 backpackers in Australia, 30% of which take up roles in horticulture. Currently, there are a reported 70,000 with many more backpackers set to leave in the lead up to Christmas and beyond.

On October 15, 2020  the State Government announced it would allow Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme workers back into Western Australia. The news to allow Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme workers into WA is a significant relief but we are still urging the government to move fast to mitigate more significant crop losses.

As part of the National Farmers Federation Horticulture Council, we have presented to Commonwealth Government a 10 point plan to help solve these problems.

We have promoted the Work And Wander Out Yonder #workandwander campaign incentives and continue to encourage the uptake of local workers where possible.

A large number of Australian residents have recently found themselves unemployed and potentially available for horticulture work. This creates a new pool of experienced, reliable Australians with a proven employment record, who may be available to fill horticulture positions. Growers may need to rethink stereotypes about the reliability and productivity of Australian workers if they want to maintain the workforce they need. This will be a new resource they can tap into.

The difficult factor accessing recently unemployed Australian workers is that they will be largely based in the city or regional centres, while most horticulture is not. It will be a big decision for someone to leave their home and family in the city to travel to the regions, source accommodation, and take up seasonal work, even in the short term. It will be up to individual farmers and the horticulture industry to make sure they make it as attractive as possible for this potential working cohort if it is required.

vegetablesWA needs feedback on your experience of finding workers. We encourage you to begin Labour Market Testing immediately and report back to us so we have a clear picture of available and interested workers.  

Email Melissa Denning at: melissa.denning@vegetableswa.com.au
Melissa requires the following information:

  • How many Australians applied?
  • How many Australians were offered a place?
  • How many Australians took up the work?
  • Why did Australians turn down the position?

FREE support to access local workforce


If you’re looking for harvest workers, the Harvest Trail Information Service can help. A simple call to the Contact Centre on 1800 062 332 is all it takes, or go to harvesttrail.gov.au to lodge vacancies independently.

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This Australian government funded service that finds workers for horticulture and viticulture businesses in defined geographic locations including the South West and Perth’s outer North Eastern area and Kununurra.

Areas managed by Rural Enterprises – Contact Bernice Russo:

Southern LGAs: Bunbury; Busselton; Augusta-Margaret River; Boyup Brook; Bridgetown-Greenbushes; Capel; Collie; Dardanup; Donnybrook-Balingup; Harvey; Waroona; and

North-Eastern LGAs: Stirling; Joondalup; Swan; Mundaring; Wanneroo; Gingin; Dandaragan.

Rural Enterprises currently several hundred job seekers registered including locals, school leavers and Working Holiday makers. You can or email Bernice, call the office on 6166 9124 or follow them on Facebook – Rural Enterprises Harvest Trail Services.

Growers in Kununurra can contact The Job Shop by email.

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Employers can search a database of job seeker, uni students and school leavers at https://www.jobsinregionalwa.com.au

Employers should go to the Looking for Workers tab, select your region from the drop down box and put in a keyword search.

Keep it simple – try keyword ‘farm’ as a starting point. A list of job seekers will appear. Then click on the “connect” button. You will need to register as an employer to proceed. Once you connect with a job seeker, they will either accept your connection if they are still looking for work, or not if they have secured a job.

If a job seeker accepts your connection, you will have access to their contact details. It is recommended that you pick up the phone and make personal contact as soon as possible. It is a very tight labour market and job seekers with the best skills and experience will be getting multiple job offers.

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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.

Activities that can be funded

The funding will provide an accommodation allowance of $40 per night from 21 September 2020 plus a travel allowance to eligible and approved applicants.

Funding amounts

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.
Regional Worker Scheme


  • Rebate of up to $3360 for accommodation costs
  • Relocation and travel allowance of up to $500
  • $40 per night accommodation rebate

Who can apply for funding

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.

Labour News

October 21, 2020

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