Seasonal Worker Programme

Seasonal Worker Program logo

The Australian Government’s Seasonal Worker Programme assists employers in the agriculture and accommodation sectors to fill employment gaps unable to be met by the Australian workforce. It also contributes to the economic development of seasonal workers from nine participating Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste.
 

Seasonal Worker Programme overview

The Seasonal Worker Programme offers employers in the agriculture sector and employers in selected locations in the accommodation sector access to a reliable, returning workforce when there is not enough local Australian labour to meet seasonal demand.

Seasonal workers benefit from the opportunity to earn Australian wages and gain valuable on-the-job learning opportunities. Many seasonal workers use the money earned in Australia to pay for their kids’ education, start a small business or build a house. For the workers and their families, this is a life changing opportunity.

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.

These changes will ensure the agricultural sector has the labour force it needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. More information is available in the Minister’s media release.

Pacific Labour Mobility Safeguarding the Welfare of Workers

The Australian Government announced the Pacific Labour Mobility Safeguarding the Welfare of Workers package today (6 October 2020) to support the Seasonal Worker Programme’s current model and ensure the program continues to protect the welfare of Pacific and Timorese workers.

The Australian Government will invest $9 million in additional measures to support the Seasonal Worker Programme’s (SWP) current model and ensure the program continues to protect the welfare of Pacific and Timorese workers.

The SWP assists Australian employers to meet critical seasonal labour needs in the agriculture sector, and accommodation sector (in selected locations), subject to labour market testing.

Pacific Labour Mobility Officers

Pacific Labour Mobility (PLM) Officers will be based in states and territories to undertake additional welfare, monitoring, compliance and accommodation checks. The size, location and recruitments of SWP workers will determine the number and location of PLM Officers in each state and territory.

Boosting community connection

The Government will also boost community connections by funding the not-for-profit sector to strengthen their role in connecting Pacific workers with local community groups in worker locations. This will be done through a tender process before the end of 2020, with contract commencement in early 2021.

The new measures will ensure the SWP continues to have sufficient integrity measures to protect the welfare of SWP workers and provide the support and additional education for employers who participate on the program.

Seasonal Worker Programme Regional Pilot

The Australian Government’s Seasonal Worker Programme Regional Pilot, is designed to help smaller farmers meet workforce shortages in the following pilot regions:

  • Sunraysia (NSW/Victoria);
  • Goulburn/Murray (Victoria);  
  • Riverina (NSW); and
  • Wimmera/Mallee (Victoria) – with effect from 1 January 2020

See the Regional Pilot factsheet for further information.

Seasonal Worker Programme Pilot Guidance is for Approved Employers participating in the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) Regional Pilot.

Seasonal Worker Programme - Worker Portability Pilot

As part of the Australian Government’s Regional Agriculture Migration Package, Approved Employers in the Wimmera Mallee, Sunraysia, Goulburn/Murray and the Riverina regions can share seasonal workers under the SWP Worker Portability Pilot. This Pilot will run till 30 June 2022. This will mean that smaller farmers and growers, who are Approved Employers under the SWP, and require seasonal workers for shorter periods of time, can plan their harvest needs and use the same group of seasonal workers sequentially. 

See the SWP Portability Pilot - Information Sheet for further details. 

Pacific Labour Mobility Scheme

The Australian Government’s Pacific Labour Mobility Scheme, complements the Seasonal Worker Programme. It helps meet business needs across all sectors in rural and regional Australia. For further information, visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s website.

Further information

For further information about the Seasonal Worker Programme, contact us via:

Email: seasonalworker@dese.gov.au

Information Line: +61 (02) 6240 5234 (9:00 am – 5:00 pm Monday to Friday, Canberra time)

For more information on Australia’s skilled visas visit the Department of Home Affairs website.