The agriculture industry in Australia has a problem.
Being the alluring destination that it is, Australia usually boasts hundreds of thousands of working holidaymakers, each of whom looks for temporary, well-paid casual work to continue their adventure Down Under. But because of COVID, a group usually numbering in the hundreds of thousands has now dropped to the tens of thousands; and this number continues to dwindle the longer the pandemic goes on!
This has left farmers in a bind. The need for fruit to be picked, vegetables to be unearthed and cereal crops to be harvested hasn’t fallen with the availability of labour; it’s stayed exactly the same.
Agriculture needs help, and it needs it fast.
Thankfully, people prepared to do a hard days work are beginning to fill the void. And innovative government programs are giving people thousands of reasons to do so.
One such program, in the state of Victoria, has just been put in place: the Seasonal Harvest Sign-On Bonus.
The Big Victorian Harvest
In February 2021, the Victorian state government announced the Seasonal Harvest Sign-On Bonus, aimed at attracting extra workers to the agriculture sector in its time of need, in turn giving both farmers and the workforce some added certainty during the harvest season.
For the most part these jobs don’t require any previous experience, training or qualifications (except for things like driving). It should be noted that much of the work is labour-intensive. You may be asked to lift heavy loads, walk long distances, bend and crouch for extended periods, and climb ladders. These harvest and farming jobs are also predominantly outdoors, so you will spend extended periods exposed to the elements.
$2,430 Sign-On Bonus
How does the Seasonal Harvest Sign-On Bonus work?
The Bonus could see a worker earning up to $2,430 extra on top of their wages for as little as eight weeks of work. The bonus is paid in two instalments:
- A first payment of $810 when 10 days of work have been completed within a 30-day period.
- A second payment of $1620 when an additional six weeks’ worth of work is completed within a 90-day period.
The potential to earn an extra $300+ per week has seen the program gain a lot of attention and interest from a wide variety of jobseekers; university and international students, people whose employment has been affected by the pandemic, and the cohort of working holidaymakers that remain in Australia, to name but a few.
Happily there is no limit to the number of workers that the bonus applies to. Provided the work is there to be done, and both the role and the worker meet the eligibility requirements, the payment of the bonus is guaranteed.
Speaking of which, what are the requirements?
To be eligible for the bonus, a jobseeker must tick the following boxes:
1) You have the right to work in Australia (this includes Australian citizens/permanent residents, overseas students with working rights, eligible working holiday makers and other work visa holders, etc.)
2) You must not have worked in Victoria’s agriculture industry in the three months prior to your application.
3) You must meet the work requirements listed above (10 days of seasonal harvest work completed within 30 days, 30 days of seasonal harvest work completed within 90 days, on a Victorian horticulture farm.)
4) You must not already be employed under the Seasonal Worker Programme or Pacific Labour Scheme.
5) You must provide evidence of all the above, i.e. your employment in the Victorian horticulture industry and that you have met the work eligibility requirements.
6) Any jobseeker who takes up seasonal harvest work from Wednesday the 17th of February onward can apply for the bonus. The work doesn’t need to be undertaken with a single employer, and can instead be spread across multiple, although each must be classified as a Victorian horticulture farm.
7) Workers are only required to apply for the bonus after the first 10 days of work. Once those days are completed, applying is as simple as filling out some online forms through a Victorian government web portal.
Won’t get out of bed for $2430? What if we were to offer you some added perks?
The Victorian and Commonwealth governments have teamed up to offer a few other benefits to jobseekers who might be interested in taking part.
The Relocation Assistance Program sees eligible workers offered the opportunity to claim thousands of dollars’ worth of reimbursements for costs incurred in travelling to and staying in the rural areas that need harvest help.
Australian jobseekers could claim up to $6,000 worth of reimbursements, while international jobseekers could claim up to $2,000. To be eligible for the program:
- You must relocate within Australia to a regional, remote or designated harvest area.
- You must take up a short-term agricultural work through a registered Harvest Trail Services Provider.
- You must work for at least 120 hours over at least six weeks in the agriculture industry.
“But that’s not all,” the government says! Those who take on The Big Victorian Harvest and decide that they quite like the tranquil rural life could also be eligible for:
Greater access to the Youth Allowance/ABSTUDY programs (to be eligible you’ll need to earn $15,000 in agriculture between the 30th of November 2020 and the 31st of December 2021.)
A number of free, Government-funded training programs that are designed to get you ready for a career in agriculture.
How To Apply
Call Jobs Victoria Hotline on 1300 208 575.
The Seasonal Harvest Sign-On Bonus for The Big Victorian Harvest is a unique opportunity. Jobseekers are offered the chance to help farmers, a group who have always been the lifeblood of Australia. They are offered quality, well paid work with good people. And on top of all that, they are given a generous bonus and access to a number of assistance programs that will help them now and into the future.
Head to the Big Harvest website or call Jobs Victoria Hotline on 1300 208 575 to find out more. And keep your eyes peeled on Backpacker Job Board for all the latest opportunities. You can find relevant job vacancies in the following categories:
If you’ve ever wondered what a life on the land is like, there’s never been a better time to find out.