Cash carrot to lure farm workers
Australians can now access up to $6000 in cash if they head to the bush to take up farm work. The assistance is part of new government incentives to encourage Australians to fill agriculture worker shortages, and also includes the potential for young people to fast-track their access to Youth Allowance.
With the peak harvest and picking season underway, farmers are struggling to find the workers they need to get their fruit and vegies off the vine and their grain in the silo. The horticulture sector alone is forecast to have a worker deficit of 26,000 come March.
National Farmers’ Federation Chief Executive Tony Mahar says there has never been a better time for Australians to explore the regions.
“There are currently thousands of positions vacant on farms across the country, including picking mangos in the Northern Territory, harvesting wheat in the Western Australian Wheatbelt and picking cherries in Young,” he says. “From pickers and pruners to plant operators, there is something to suit a wide variety of job seekers.
“Farmers require people who are reliable, enthusiastic and energetic. If you tick these boxes, you’ll very likely have what it takes to be a valued member of a farm’s workforce.”
The government incentives were announced in this year’s federal budget. Up to $6000 is available to cover relocation (accommodation and travel) costs for Australians and $2000 for migrant workers. Temporary changes to Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY requirements also significantly lower the eligibility threshold for young people engaged in farm work.
Mahar says the short-term seasonal work on offer is perfect for school leavers and university students looking for a summer adventure that pays.
“The National Farmers’ Federation encourages young Australians, who have had their overseas holiday plans dashed, to consider seeing more of their own backyard, while at the same time contributing to the noble task of sustaining Australians,” he says.