Joint media release: Vital labour support for Australian farmers

9 October 2020

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, the Hon David Littleproud MP
Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure and Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, the Hon Alan Tudge MP


The Australian Government is committed to ensuring Australia’s agriculture sector has access to the labour force it needs.

To support Australia’s agriculture sector, the Government is making changes to the existing Relocation Assistance to Take Up a Job program with $17.4 million to be provided in relocation support to attract workers to our farms and regions. 

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, the Hon David Littleproud MP, said this funding will provide financial support to job seekers who temporarily relocate to take up agricultural work of at least six weeks. 

“Our agriculture sector is facing unprecedented pressure on labour supply as a result of COVID-19,” Minister Littleproud said. 

“These changes will support critical food production in Australia so that farm produce does not go to waste and will help ensure the agricultural sector continues to play a key role in Australia's economic recovery.”

From 1 November 2020, relocation assistance will be available to people who relocate to harvest and regional areas to take up agricultural work, including Australians who are not receiving income support and those with the right to work in Australia. 

Those relocating to take up short-term agricultural work may be eligible to receive up to $6,000 if they are an Australian worker; or $2,000 if they are a visa holder with general work rights, not restricted to an employer or a type of work, to work in Australia.

The Morrison Government is also investing a further $9 million in the Seasonal Worker Programme to ensure employers can meet critical seasonal labour needs.

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash said, the Morrison Government’s Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) plays a vital role in assisting employers in the agriculture sectors.

“It is important to note that filling these positions will not come at the expense of getting Australians into jobs,” Minister Cash said. 

“Approved employers can only recruit through the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) if they can demonstrate they cannot find suitable Australian workers.

“The funding will help ensure that the SWP has the resources to accommodate the significant growth of the program and ensure there is appropriate oversight in place to protect the welfare of workers.”

Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alan Tudge, said the SWP has a dual purpose – it provides direct and tangible benefits to our farming sector and also to our Pacific family by providing income, skills and valuable remittances to support the economic development of participating countries.

“Australians will always get priority for jobs under this Government, but we’re listening to farmers who have been clear that they need many more workers, and they need them now

We don’t want crops going unpicked and food rotting on farms, which will be devastating for farmers and regional communities, and will see increased prices of produce in our supermarkets.”

The funding will support up to 19 Pacific Labour Mobility Officers across Australia to support the welfare of seasonal workers and to establish direct links with participating employers.

These officers will provide an on-ground presence to identify issues early and resolve them quickly.

Funding will also be provided, through a tender process, to the not-for-profit sector to strengthen their role in connecting workers with local community groups in worker locations.

Stronger connections with the community are important to worker satisfaction, reduce homesickness, and have shown to increase productivity and reduce issues and misunderstandings.

More information on the additional support being provided can be found at: https://www.dese.gov.au/budget-2020-21