Frequently Asked Questions about the Seasonal Worker Programme

Frequently Asked Questions about the Seasonal Worker Programme.

What is the Seasonal Worker Programme?

The Seasonal Worker Programme assists Australian employers in the agriculture sector nationwide and the accommodation sector (in selected locations) that are unable to find enough local Australian labour by providing access to workers from Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste. Seasonal workers can return in following seasons, providing employers with access to a reliable, returning workforce.

The programme contributes to the economic development of eligible Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste by providing access to low and unskilled work opportunities in Australia.

Which countries are currently participating in the Seasonal Worker Programme?

Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

How long is the duration of employment for seasonal workers?

Employers can employ seasonal workers from all participating countries for a maximum of nine months. Seasonal workers can work in Australia for up to nine months, but must spend three months out of every twelve in their home country.

On 4 April 2020, the Australian Government announced temporary changes to visa arrangements that would allow Pacific workers under the Seasonal Worker Programme and the Pacific Labour Scheme to continue working in the agriculture sector until the coronavirus crisis has passed. The new visas will enable the workers to remain in Australia and continue working to support themselves for up to 12 months. The conditions under the Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme visas will be carried over to the new visa arrangements, continuing the sponsorship arrangements between Pacific workers and their employers.

The Department is working with Approved Employers to provide workers with ongoing work opportunities and to ensure they are safe and supported. When a work placement comes to an end, if the Approved Employer has no further work available, the workers will be redeployed, with their agreement and subject to labour market testing to ensure Australians have the first opportunity for the job.

Types of industries available

Employers can fill low and unskilled seasonal vacancies in:

  • Agriculture industries that fall under the Pastoral Award 2010
  • Horticulture
  • Cane
  • Cotton
  • Aquaculture
  • Accommodation (selected locations)

Please visit the Jobs for seasonal workers page to learn more about what work these industries cover.

Are there additional learning opportunities that seasonal workers can undertake during their stay in Australia?

Yes, the Add-on Skills Training component of the program allows seasonal workers to access basic training in First Aid, English and IT skills. These skills can help seasonal workers while on the job in Australia and when they return to their home country.

The Add-on Skills Training component of the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP), previously administered by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, was transferred to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), effective from 1 July 2018.

Any questions regarding these arrangements can be directed through the Pacific Labour Facility (PLF) at plf_training@thepalladiumgroup.com.

Who pays for Add-on Skills Training?

The Australian Government funds Add-on Skills Training for seasonal workers. There is no cost to the seasonal worker or the approved employer.