Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE)
National Harvest Labour Information Service (NHLIS)
The NHLIS is funded by the Australian Government and not-for-profit organisation MADEC Australia. We encourage all growers to start advertising NOW to allow time to source workers, have them self-isolate, cross borders and settle in accommodation before your start date. Australians and visa holders are showing interest in working in horticulture, so please don’t miss this opportunity.
Agencies can provide a tailored recruitment service at no cost to employers, including:
- screening and shortlisting;
- referring candidates; and
- providing support after employees start work with you.
Phone the National Harvest call centre on free-call 1800 062 332 (Monday to Friday, 8.00am – 8.00pm AEST), or visit the Harvest Trail website to post seasonal farm jobs.
Recruitment assistance from DESE
Businesses looking to recruit a larger number of staff can contact DESE directly for recruitment assistance, including:
- tailoring a solution to your recruitment needs, such as connecting you with recently retrenched workers in your area and identifying solutions to address skills gaps
- providing information on how to post a job vacancy on the Australian Government’s jobs board;
- connecting you with an employment services provider in your region. Job seekers are currently registering with these government-funded providers for assistance to find work.
Email email@example.com with your contact details and a departmental officer will be in touch.
Other national recruitment options
The idea for the Backpicker app was derived from a culmination of experiences had by David Fevaleaki, growing up in Sunraysia (on the border of Victoria and New South Wales) surrounded by farmers, and working alongside migrant and travelling workers around Australia in farming, mining and construction.
Backpicker will create a safe and convenient platform for growers to source legitimate workers in Australia, and an opportunity for workers to view training videos and learn about safety, biosecurity and so on, as the app develops. It is linked to Facebook, and based on a rating system.
Backpicker would like to give growers the opportunity to finalise the design of the app, by registering as early adopters, advertising available roles, and providing feedback on what could work better for you.
Citrus Australia is supportive Backpicker’s goal and encourages all growers to try the app when next seeking workers.
Go to https://backpicker.com.au/ to view the platform. The app will soon be ready for download on Android and Apple, and is available for FREE.
Click on this link to view a short 4 minute video on how to register.
Share your feedback with David via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
A proud NT based recruitment company for mining and infrastructure, looking to mobilise workers who have currently lost their jobs. Any growers or packers seeking workers, Celotti are happy to help and can provide staff nationwide.
FarmReady is a linking, advisory and training service – a ‘Hub’. They list potential employers, services and products that a job seeker or farm worker may need. Their focus is on legislation, safety, wellbeing, regional living, tourism, education, employment, accommodation, transport and social activities etc.
**Please see individual state recruitment services further down the page.**
Department of Health
Advice for people staying in a caravan park
See the Department of Health’s fact sheet for people staying in caravan parks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVIDSafe app speeds up the current manual process of finding people who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19. This means people can be contacted more quickly if they are at risk.
State and territory health officials can only access app information if someone tests positive and agrees to the information in their phone being uploaded. The health officials can only use the app information to help alert those who may need to quarantine or get tested.
The COVIDSafe app is the only contact trace app approved by the Australian Government. Growers should encourage workers to download this app.
Department of Home Affairs
Translated information for visa holders
Information on COVID-19 in more than 30 languages is available here.
The Department of Home Affairs have published a COVID-19 page on their website with updates to Australia’s immigration and border arrangements during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. This includes answers to some of your burning visa questions.
Check it out here: https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/
Working Holiday Makers (WHM)
There are approximately 140,000 WHMs in Australia at present.
On 4 April 2020, Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud, announced that Working Holiday Makers who work in agriculture or food processing will be exempt from the six month work limitation with one employer, and will be eligible to work for up to 12 months. WHMs will be eligible for a further visa, if their current visa is due to expire in the next six months. WHMs must apply for a new visa before their current visa expires. Whilst a decision is being made on their new visa, a bridging visa will come into effect, to allow them to remain lawful, and to continue having working rights. WHMs and employers can check Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) to view WHMs work rights.
If a WHM is working in agriculture but is not eligible for a further WHM visa and is unable to return to their home country, they can apply for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream visa, which includes working rights, for free.
Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS)
There are approximately 8,000 Seasonal and Pacific Workers in Australia at present. Now is a good time to apply to become an Approved Employer – visit here to see how.
All flights to and from the Pacific Islands are currently suspended, however there is a fortnightly service from Brisbane to Nauru to return workers home only.
From 20 April 2020, SWP and PLS workers can apply for the early release of their superannuation up to the value of $10,000 if they cannot meet their immediate living expenses. The government is working to ensure they collect this upon departure, however the option is there if needed.
See Approved Employer communique for 9 April 2020 here.
On 4 April 2020, Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud, announced that SWP and PLS workers would be eligible to extend their stay in Australia for 12 months to work for approved employers. Read full update on extension of Seasonal Worker visas here.
On 29 April 2020, an updated 408 visa application guide became available that relates to the transfer of PLS workers from a Subclass 403 (Temporary Work (International Relations) visa to a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) – Australian Government Event (AGEE) – COVID-19 Pandemic visa.
On 25 March 2020, an update was sent regarding the SWP and PLS from the Department of Home Affairs, requesting Approved Employers to advise workers with expiring visas to apply for Bridging Visas. Read the full update here.
On 15 March 2020, the Australian Government announced new measures with the aim of reducing the spread of coronavirus: Coronavirus measures endorsed by National Cabinet. Click here to read the full update.
If you are an Approved Employer and have questions regarding the SWP, please contact your Contract Manager or email: SeasonalWorker@dese.gov.au.
SWP Information Line (02) 6240 5234, Monday to Friday, 9.00am – 5.00pm AEST (excluding public holidays)
Critical Incidents and Emergencies 1800 515 131, Monday to Friday before 9.00am or after 5.00pm AEST, (or any time on a weekend or public holiday)
Stay up to date online with the latest info here.
Fair Work Ombudsman
The Fair Work Ombudsman have a web page providing links to important Government information about coronavirus.
They also answer frequently asked questions about workplace obligations and entitlements, for business owners affected by the outbreak of coronavirus.
Hit them up for any queries into workplace laws, and how to pay staff during the ‘new normal’.
Unpaid pandemic leave
On 8 April 2020, the Fair Work Commission made determinations varying 99 awards, including the Horticulture Award. The determinations inserted a temporary new schedule that provides employees with:
- 2 weeks of unpaid pandemic leave
- the ability to take twice as much annual leave at half their normal pay if their employer agrees.
The schedule in each award applies from an employee’s first full pay period on or after 8 April 2020 until 30 June 2020. This end date can be extended by application to the Commission.
Read the full details here.
Free webinars and podcasts on workplace law
Commercial law firm Piper Alderman is monitoring the COVID-19 situation daily and actioning a number of policy directives to help protect against the spread of COVID-19.
They have compiled a series of relevant materials which will be regularly updated on their website. Feel free to browse topics to see if there is anything relevant to you.
If you’re seeking to temporarily accommodate more workers on your property, please see below businesses that have contacted Citrus Australia.
- Legislation regarding on-farm accommodation is different in every state. Please contact your local government to ensure you are aware of legislation in your region prior to arranging temporary accommodation.
- We would advise against arranging temporary accommodation for isolation of workers that have been diagnosed with COVID-19. If any of your seasonal workers are diagnosed, and living in shared accommodation, the matter becomes a community responsibility. Please ensure that you are aware of what assistance and services your local government is providing in terms of isolation accommodation for a COVID-19 outbreak.
Global Shelter Solutions is an Australian based company that specialises in the manufacture of innovative, economical, quick to construct, flat packed, rigid walled shelter structures. The benefits are that they are flat packed, quick to construct and can be packed down and reused as appropriate. A range of floor plans can be developed. Phone: 0411 352 908 or email: email@example.com
Apollo Motorhomes can provide quick and easy accommodation for lease or purchase. See above brochure, or phone Scott Fahey on 0403 348 337, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Australian company, Let’s Go Motorhomes, has committed to keeping essential businesses in food, agriculture and horticulture, by providing temporary self-contained mobile accommodation. The company is offering individuals and organisations temporary emergency accommodation, providing businesses with a solution to allow them to continue operating during the coronavirus pandemic. Phone: 1800 538 746
CHO Directions No. 23 – Directions for Gatherings came into force at midnight on 20 April 2020. Directions No. 14 are revoked.
A place where ‘NT commercial primary production’ is carried out has been added to the list of places exempt from the 10 person rule, provided the occupier has a COVID-19 management plan approved by the CHO. ‘NT commercial primary production’ is defined as including agribusiness, aquaculture, meat production and commercial fishing.
The directions clarify that a gathering in a private residence is limited to a maximum of 10 people (a gathering of more than 10 people who all live in the same private residence is still allowed) and that, if the people are indoors, there must be no more than one person per 4 square metres.
Growers must have a COVID–19 Management Plan in place if their operation has 10 staff, working, living, eating in one place. Growers should submit plans to the CHO (email@example.com) as a matter of highest priority, as currently plans are taking in excess of 21 days to process and in many cases are unsuccessful due to lack of information.
Citrus Australia advises growers to read the Guide to COVID-19 in the orchard & packing shed to compose a management plan.
Pick’d is a consultancy group offering a range of services for farmers struggling to find, screen and house seasonal pickers and packers. These services include candidate selection and screening, health checks, onboarding, payroll, insurance and the end to end management of temporary accommodation.
Pick’d can provide temporary accommodation on your farm for less than $20 per day.
They are also currently offering additional measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19. These include:
- COVID-19 specific questionnaire as part of the screening process
- Mandatory self-isolation within each region for a period of 14 days
- Optional on-site medical assessment of workforce teams ahead of commencement
Jobs Finder Queensland
The Queensland Government has partnered with the recruitment and staffing industry to streamline opportunities for temporarily displaced workers to find work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Job finders can have the confidence of being properly paid, protected and supported by professional staffing agencies that have been vetted by the Recruitment, Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA), the peak industry body.
At this point there is no action for growers on this, however there are discussions with the Federal Government for this to link through to the Harvest Trail listings. You can see the website here.
AgFoodConnect is a pilot program of the Youth Jobs PaTH program and allows for using labour hire and Group Training Provision for people who can only provide seasonal work but would like to reduce costs of training and keep young people local.
Visit their website for more information here.
WorkCover Queensland are currently working with growers on adjusting insurance policies to assist with financial difficulties due to COVID-19. Anyone suffering hardship should contact them to discuss their situation. WorkCover can adjust forward estimates and provide additional time to make payments. Phone: 1300 362 128
COVID-19 data website
A new Queensland COVID-19 data website has been launched to include a breakdown of regional COVID-19 numbers by Local Government Area, giving communities more oversight of their local cases. Visit this site to view which areas are more prevalent with diagnosed cases.
Department of Agriculture Farms Fishing and Forestry
New arrangements to keep agricultural workers and communities safe from COVID-19
As of 5 May 2020, the state of Queensland has enforced a Seasonal Worker Health Management Plan Direction for agribusiness and fisheries.
The framework consists of five key elements, including:
- Stronger border protections
- Mandatory health plans
- General health obligation from employers and employees
- Stronger compliance
- Locally led solutions to address accommodation, transport and workforce supply issues
Access requirements, FAQ fact sheets and templates for employers and employees regarding transport, accommodation and work can all be found on the Business Queensland website here.
QDAF is currently trying to reach out to backpackers and backpacker hostels, to ensure they are aware of best practices in trying to stay healthy, and seek work in Queensland.
Here you can see information being sent to hostels, for your information and peace of mind. Please direct backpackers to jobsearch.gov.au if they have contacted you and you are not currently looking for workers.
North Burnett Regional Council – labour requirements
The Mayor of North Burnett Regional Council, Cr Rachel Chambers, has sent two letters to growers residing within council boundaries. If you are not receiving these letters, please contact her office to be added to the distribution list. Phone 1300 696 272, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Seasonal Jobs South Australia
Seasonal Jobs SA is a new website that will help connect seasonal workers already in South Australia, to essential agricultural jobs in regional areas. Seasonal Jobs SA will showcase the types of seasonal roles in agriculture as they become available, including what skills and training are required, where the jobs are, and how to apply. The dedicated COVID-19 hub also includes important information about workplace restrictions, safety, hygiene and support.
The jobs board is now live to connect people looking for a job with businesses needing seasonal staff. Employers can list their available jobs on the job board for free. Contact email@example.com for any queries about using the website.
Department for Industry and Skills
Through the Skilling South Australia initiative, the Department for Industry and Skills is supporting industry and employers to increase the number of apprentices in South Australia through the following initiatives.
Equipped for work
Employers and businesses can access reimbursements for up to $1,500 in costs that are associated with taking on an apprentice or trainee. The guidelines are here and the online application form is here.
Equipped for growth
Allows employers with less than 25 staff to access up to $5,000 dollars to hire a new apprentice, covering costs such as recruitment, pre-training and induction support. The online application is available here.
COVID response projects
Employers can seek funding support for short course training to:
- Retain their workforce through upskilling necessary for employees to retain employment
- Transition their workforce from one part of the business to another via upskilling
- Employ new workers who may be transitioning from one industry to another
- Hire new workers to respond to business need as a result of COVID-19
These projects are designed to support quick reskilling via accredited training short-courses, rather than the extended training delivery under an apprenticeship and applications are open at this stage until June 30. Any businesses or industries who would like to discuss a proposal are encouraged to contact the Department for Industry Skills Infoline via 1800 673 097 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
SA State Coordinator
Please note that backpackers working in horticulture in South Australia are not considered essential travellers and will still be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. Consider this when recruiting staff for harvest. Read here for more info.
Chandler Agribusiness offers a diverse agriculture workforce to meet temporary, seasonal or long-term labour needs all year round, and is pleased to offer special rates to new clients to assist during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a significantly reduced charge rate.
See their brochure here.
Working for Victoria
The $500 million Working for Victoria initiative helps people who have lost their jobs due to the economic impacts of COVID-19 find new work opportunities. Working for Victoria can help you find people with the skills and experience you need to meet your business needs.
Register your requirements for talent on the site and you will be contacted and assisted to post jobs on the Working for Victoria site and access the Working for Victoria talent pools. You can also see the fact sheet here.
Bringing workers to the Murray Valley
Please note that the Seasonal Worker Programme Regional Pilot and the Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council (SMECC) are both arranging pools of workers in Sunraysia to be available. Please contact email@example.com if you are interested in accessing these workers for the season.
MADEC Harvest Office
MADEC are predicting that they will see a significant increase in the number of people looking for employment in the horticulture industry, from people with a genuine desire to work.
Please contact the Mildura MADEC Harvest Office if you need workers now, or before your season commences, so they can have a workforce ready for you. Their service is FREE.
MADEC’s farm safety induction process is continuing, however, there is a 10 person limit to each group. They can also do these remotely if preferred.
Office hours remain 8.30am – 5.00pm, Monday to Friday. You can contact the office on 03 50221797, or reach out to Kerry-Lyn Robertson on 0427 507 984 or firstname.lastname@example.org, who will be available after working hours when the need arises.
Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD)
Jobs in WA Food and Ag
A new website has been set up by DPIRD to connect workers with regional employers, labour hire companies and recruitment businesses seeking casual, skilled and unskilled workers. The website is a temporary resource to provide jobseekers and employers with information about jobs in Western Australia’s primary industries during the COVID-19 situation.
Studium is pleased to announce a partnership with DPIRD to provide employment opportunities to students, graduates and skilled workers in the agriculture and food space.
Studium will work with agricultural employers and representative body to supply workers with applicable skills and attributes to those businesses that face a critically short supply. If you are being contacted by jobseekers and currently do not require any workers, please direct them to register with Studium.
Likewise, if you are seeking labour, contact Melissa Denning, VegetablesWA, 0477 477 044, email@example.com to connect you to the program.
Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD)
17 April 2020
- Currently WA is in a period of low labour requirements, with the peak expected in Spring.
- DPIRD encourage growers and packers to kindly start the recruiting process as early as possible.
- There are reports of a number of homeless backpackers around the state. Local shires are working with the Department of Communities to resolve this.
- DPIRD are investigating options for housing backpackers in the low labour requirement period so that they are available at peak demand.
- Non backpackers who have a letter of employment do not need to self-isolate. More information to come on the requirements for backpackers to self-isolate.