Targeted funding to attract seasonal workers

Victoria will spend $17 million on adressing workforce shortages

Horticulture
NEW FUNDING: Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes has announced a new funding package, to link seasonal workers, with farmers.

NEW FUNDING: Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes has announced a new funding package, to link seasonal workers, with farmers.

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Seasonal workforce co-ordinators, employment offices to help ease worker shortages.

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The Victorian government will provide targeted funding to attract seasonal workers to the regions, to ensure farmers have the employees they need to get their produce to plate.

Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes says a $17 million package will help address seasonal workforce shortages, brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

"These jobs are hard work - but they're also some of the most rewarding and could be the start of a really fruitful and exciting career in agriculture," Ms Symes said.

"I urge Victorian farmers to look at the funding available and register with Working Victoria - to connect with workers keen and able to help them get their product to plate."

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The package includes more than $6 million to boost the supply of COVIDSafe accommodation for seasonal workers, including working with councils and local accommodation providers like motels and caravan parks to explore accommodation options for regional seasonal workers.

The government will also employ new Seasonal Workforce Coordinators, along with Engagement Officers, who will link local industry groups, employers, labor hire agencies, local government and other stakeholders.

The Engagement Officers will also provide additional support to culturally and linguistically diverse communities, who traditionally make up a significant portion of the seasonal agricultural workforce.

Farmers and agribusinesses will be further supported with $10 million from the Agriculture Workforce Plan to extend the Business Adaptation Grants - helping workplaces meet health and safety requirements and adapt to distancing changes imposed by the pandemic, with grants of up to $300,000.

Upcoming employment opportunities in the agriculture sector include fruit and vegetable picking and packing, grains harvesting, grain receival centre work, and other roles essential to seasonal harvest.

The Victorian Government has advocated strongly for the commonwealth to lead a national approach to support farmers ahead of the harvest and shearing seasons, beginning across the country.

The Victorian Government will join other states in helping local employers take part in the Commonwealth's Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme

Ms Symes said Victoria would continue talks on what greater role the commonwealth could play in assisting Victorian agribusinesses to find workers.

The Victorian Government led the development of the Agriculture Workers Code with NSW, to give certainty to farmers and agricultural workers that border closures will not stand in the way of their vital work.

Jobseekers can register now and be alerted when opportunities in the sector appear on the site.

To do so and to find out more about the Agriculture Workforce Plan go to agriculture.vic.gov.au/agworkforceplan.

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