​​Media Release

Seasonal workers expanding to greener pastures

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce
Minister for Employment, Michaelia Cash


8 February 2016

Changes announced to the Seasonal Worker Programme will provide significant benefits to Australian agricultural employers and industries while also contributing to the economic development of Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste.

Minister for Employment, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash and Minister for Agriculture the Hon Barnaby Joyce MP, announced the expansion of the Programme from primarily horticulture to the broader agricultural sector, increasing the types of low and unskilled jobs included under the Programme.

"The Seasonal Worker Programme has been highly effective in helping Australian businesses overcome seasonal labour shortages," Minister Cash said.

"Employers in a range of agriculture industries including cattle, sheep, grain and mixed enterprises will now be able to apply to be part of the Seasonal Worker Programme."

Minister Joyce said these changes to the Special Program visa (subclass 416) mean more agricultural businesses will benefit in regional areas where labour can be in short supply during peak periods.

"This is good news for Australian farming enterprises that now have more options for seasonal labour and can better plan for their harvests and other busy periods with much greater certainty.

"This is also good news for citizens from our Seasonal Worker Programme partner countries in the Pacific Islands as well Timor Leste who will now have more opportunities to benefit from a wider variety of work experiences while also earning a decent wage," Minister Joyce said.

Critical safeguards are built into the programme, such as the requirement for employers to fully test the local job market before they can apply to recruit workers under the Programme.

"While we are determined to ensure businesses across Australia have access to the seasonal workers they need, we are equally determined that no Australian misses out on a job," Minister Cash said.

The Seasonal Worker Programme assists Australian employers unable to find enough local Australian workers to meet seasonal labour needs and contributes to the economic development of Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste.

Workers brought in by employers are subject to the same workplace relations and work health and safety safeguards as Australian job seekers.  

Since 1 July 2012, over 8600 visas have been issued to people under the Programme to support the seasonal labour needs of around 70 approved employers.

To apply to recruit seasonal workers visit: www.employment.gov.au/information-employers-how-recruit-seasonal-workers.

For more information about the Seasonal Worker Programme visit: www.employment.gov.au/seasonal-worker-programme.  ​