Australian Agriculture Visa update
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has today released new information and factsheets on the Australian Agriculture Visa Program (Ag Visa).
The new documents include:
- Updated factsheet.
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
- Program settings.
To view these factsheets and for more information on the Ag Visa, please visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website:
Info on piecework rule changes
- Piecework timesheet template to help employers record their pieceworkers’ hours of work, outputs and piece rates.
- Piecework reconciliation template to help employers check that the amount they’re paying their pieceworkers meets the minimum hourly wage guarantee.
- Piecework rules are changing information sheet to help employers explain the changes to their employees.
- Piecework arrangements employer checklist
- Piecework record template
Labour hire concerns
Growers who have any concerns regarding pay rates, or other contractual practices used by labour hire companies, have many resources available to be proactive in protecting yourself and your staff. Find out more here.
The Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network (QAWN) is being extended to late 2022 with $1.7M in funding.
Formed in 2016, QAWN is a regional network of industry-based agricultural workforce officers who work directly with producers and operators across the supply chain to assist in addressing recruitment and skilling issues. The Far North Queensland contact is Leanne Kruss (firstname.lastname@example.org or 0431 743 633).
Worker shortages on banana farms continue to be an issue of critical concern. It is one of the ABGC’s highest priorities (to help ensure growers have access to staff), but the complexities of the matter – particularly the Seasonal Worker Program (SWP) – coupled with government decisions and circumstances that change frequently, makes it an extremely difficult issue to navigate.
ABGC’s CEO Jim Pekin and Executive Officer Leanne Erakovic continue to have a range of discussions on harvest workforce needs for the banana industry, with growers, Approved Employers and Government representatives. Through these discussions and negotiations it is hoped we can continue to develop solutions to our workforce issues, both immediately and in the longer term.
In addition, the ABGC has established a dedicated Job Vacancies page and continues to promote banana farm work extensively to school leavers and university students, largely through social media. You can view two of the promotional videos, made by the ABGC, below.
Growers are encouraged to visit this page regularly for updates. You can also:
- Sign up to ABGC e-bulletins (email email@example.com)
- Follow ABGC on Facebook
- Ensure you are receiving the industry magazine Australian Bananas. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with current details if you would like to be added to the distribution list.
- Contact Executive Officer Leanne Erakovic via email or on 07 3278 4786.
Additional resources and information for banana growers:
- The Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) urged the Queensland Government to follow suit with the New South Wales Government and implement half-price hotel quarantine for seasonal workers in agriculture. Read the media release here.
- Workforce updates – June 18: Click here
- Visa extensions for ag workers
- Harvest Trail
- Farm Ready Hub
- Potential for I-Kiribati workers on banana farms (second item)
- COVID-19 effects on banana consumption (Australian Bananas magazine August 2020)
- COVID-19 effects on banana consumption (Australian Bananas magazine December 2020)
- Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network
- Back to Work in Agriculture Incentive Scheme
- Federal Government information on SWP
- Current COVID-19 situation and case numbers
Guidelines approved for regional quarantine facilities – QLD
The Queensland Government will now consider proposals for regional quarantine facilities, designed to accommodate larger numbers of workers.
Arrangements for these facilities would be similar to on-farm quarantine arrangements, in that an International Quarantine Plan must be approved by Queensland’s Chief Health Officer. However, workers will remain at the facility and participate in training and organised activities rather than working on a farm.
An approved employer who is interested in operating a regional facility should read the regional quarantine facility guidelines and contact DAF to discuss making an application for arrangements at the facility. Guidelines for regional quarantine facilities are available here.
Prospective applicants for regional facilities are encouraged to seek a pre-lodgement meeting with QDAF via email@example.com.
The ABGC continues to advocate for more places to be made available in hotel quarantine.
Latest news on restrictions across Queensland here.
Link to the Check in QLD App here (whilst this is not mandatory for farming businesses it is a quick and easy way for visitors to register.
Latest news on restrictions across NSW here.
Latest news on restrictions in the NT here.
Latest news on restrictions in WA here.
Advertising for seasonal workers? Here are some tips from the QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.
If you’re advertising for seasonal workers, don’t forget to include details of the incentives that are now available.
We’ve noticed some employers are advertising on social media and on urban job boards, so we want to make sure your prospective workers have all the latest information, particularly if they’re new to the agricultural industry and keen to give it a go.
Some suggested wording for your job ads: