As backpackers and other overseas seasonal workers make up a large portion of our industry’s on-farm workforce, managing workers through the coronavirus pandemic is going to be critical.
While growers can implement on farm the rules and guidelines set out by authorities to slow the spread of the virus, the behaviour of workers once they finish work and return to their accommodation may require further management.
Growers have a duty of care to all staff to reinforce the key actions designed to slow the spread of the virus. Equally, it’s in the backpackers best interest to do the same, otherwise they risk not working.
Growers also need to be mindful of new backpackers in their areas, especially those who have had to resort to their own shared housing (as most hostels are not taking new residents). These backpackers, with a range of first languages, sometimes do not have a good understanding of English and may not be fully aware of the current government coronavirus rules.
To this end, the ABGC has asked the Queensland Government to develop and distribute posters and pamphlets on measures including sanitising hands and social distancing, and that they be distributed to these people in banana towns in the languages they understand best (Japanese, Korean, French, Taiwanese, Italian and Mandarin).