A new trial is under way to give job seekers the chance to try their hand at work in the horticulture sector.
The Federal Government’s Seasonal Work Incentives Trial aims to encourage job seekers to take up short-term work placements of six weeks in the horticulture industry.
Practically, up to 7600 Australian job seekers could earn up to $5000 by working on-farm, without affecting their income support payments.
The initiative was the brainchild of South Australian Senator Nick Xenaphon – hatched during the backpacker tax debacle and used as a bargaining chip to get the Government’s 15% backpacker tax rate across the line.
National Farmers’ Federation Chief Executive Tony Mahar said it was hoped the trial would help address horticulture’s labour woes and provide an entrée into farm work for people looking for new job opportunities.
“The horticulture industry faces particular challenges in attracting staff, given the seasonal and transient nature of the work required.
“For this reason, the industry relies heavily on overseas workers to ensure sure what is grown can be harvested and sold – and not left to perish.”
“The industry will always support an “Australian jobs first” approach and we welcome this initiative to attract more workers to the sector,” Mr Mahar said.
Senator Xenaphon said the Seasonal Workers Incentives Trial removed the disincentive for people on unemployment benefits to seek seasonal work where there are genuine labour shortages.
“We hope this will be the start of a different approach to welfare to get people into employment.”
The trial was officially launched on 29 June by Minister for Employment, Senator Michaelia Cash and Federal Member for La Trobe, Jason Wood MP at Victorian fruit farm Montague Fresh.
“This is a win-win initiative because growers in the horticultural industry are often in need of short-term labour during peak times,” Mr Wood said.
“I am excited by the opportunities this Trial presents for both the local horticultural industry and people seeking work.”