Program to help smaller businesses access Seasonal Worker Program
26 November 2019
The Seasonal Worker Program Regional Pilot taking place in Sunraysia, Goulburn‑Murray and the Riverina has been extended by two years.
The program has been designed to make the SWP more accessible, enabling smaller growers to access seasonal workers for a few months, and not have to find nine months of work for them, which is usually required under this program.
The pilot will see an ‘Approved Employer’ plan nine months of work for the worker before they come to Australia, by moving them between growers where needed.
This could be in different regions depending on where the need is.
Growers will need to give their estimated requirements to the Approved Employer for the year to make this work well.
While the overarching principles of the Regional Pilot are identical to that of the Seasonal Worker Programme, there are some key differences:
- Approved Employers do not need to undertake labour market testing for the duration of the Regional Pilot for the regions that they are eligible to operate under
- Pilot Seasonal Workers can only be employed in the Pilot Regions applicable to the Pilot Approved Employer
- Pilot Seasonal Workers can be moved by their Pilot Approved Employer within or across the relevant Pilot Regions without prior approval by the department
- There are certain activities for which Pilot Approved Employers will continue to require prior departmental approval
The SWP brings in around 8500 workers per year, but there is no cap on the number that can come and there are thousands of workers in the Pacific Islands who are still eager to participate.
Some citrus growers see the SWP as a long term solution, and have been seeing the same workers return each year to the same farms.