WORKING Holiday Maker and Student Visa holders, who are fully vaccinated, will be able come to Tasmania and mainland states to help address current horticultural workforce shortages caused by Covid-19.
Before the pandemic more than 40 per cent of the 8000 seasonal harvest jobs in Tasmania were expected to be filled by working holiday makers.
The Tasmanian fruit industry has been heartened by the renewed interest from locals to participate in the fruit harvest during the pandemic, helping to fill some of the shortfall.
There are 23,500 Working Holiday Maker Visa holders currently offshore waiting to finalise their intentions to travel to Australia, more than the 19,300 who were in Australia at the end of 2021.
Before the pandemic more than 140,000 working holiday makers were in Australia.
Fruit Growers Tasmania CEO Peter Cornish welcomed the Federal Government’s recently announced measures to provide incentives for fully vaccinated student and working holiday makers to come to Australia.
“We fully support the measures announced last week. Working holiday makers have traditionally played a very important and valued role in the Tasmanian fruit industry seasonal workforce,” Mr Cornish said.
“Not only did they play a key role in the harvest but many also became firm advocates for Tasmania and Tasmanian produce when they returned to their home countries all over the world.
“With the fruit harvest now in full swing there are many great opportunities to pick fruit and make good money in what is shaping up as a bumper season.”
It is hoped the provision of refunds of visa application charges and priority visa processing, together with a Tourism Australia advertising campaign, will generate fresh interest in Australia and an increase in visa applications.
The removal of the limit on Student Visa holders’ working hours has been extended until April 2022 and there will be no limit on the time working holiday makers can work for the same employer until the end of 2022.