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.
Once a worker has applied for a new visa, they will need to await the outcome of this application. During this time, their current visa may expire, in which case they will automatically transfer onto a bridging visa.
Workers currently in Australia under these programs will also be exempt from the requirement to work for a single employer, and will be able to move between approved employers, allowing flexibility and continued support for the agriculture sector in meeting seasonal workforce demands. SWP and PLS arrangements, including those relating to employers, will be carried over to the new visa arrangements, continuing the link with the agricultural sector.
These temporary measures are not intended to prevent the recruitment of Australians to undertake this work. Before seeking access to SWP workers, approved employers must first try to recruit Australians (labour market testing).
Existing arrangements will continue for seasonal workers employed by approved employers in the pilot regions of Sunraysia, Goulburn/Murray, Riverina and Wimmera-Mallee, which commenced on 1 January 2020. If you would like to share Seasonal Workers in a multi-sponsor arrangement under this pilot program, view further details here.
Any Seasonal Workers that still have a valid visa, but do not have any work will be placed into a pool, to be relocated where work in available. Measures will be taken to try and limit the movements to within the State given the various border restrictions and quarantine requirements.
If you are seeking Seasonal Workers, please contact (02) 6240 5234 or SeasonalWorker@dese.gov.au. You do not necessarily need to be an Approved Employer, as there may be a local contractor that you can hire Seasonal Workers through.
These temporary measures will be in place for a timeframe that allows relevant critical industries to bridge the gap between their immediate needs and the time to recruit, train and on-board Australians. The Department of Home Affairs is working with the Department of Education, Skills and Employment to ensure Australians are prioritised for future job opportunities.