- How the new Agricultural visa works
- Key notable features of the new Agricultural visa
- Permanent residency pathway of the new Agricultural visa
- Worker protection for the new Agricultural visa holders
The Visa is being designed to replace the already existing Pacific Australia labour mobility scheme (PALM scheme), which will stay in place as the main for meeting workforce shortages until the program is fully designed and, in the meantime, will offer up to 12,500 new work positions between August 2021 – March 2022. The program is being designed in consultation with the Australian agricultural sector. It will take place as amendments are made to the Migrations Regulations 1994 beginning 30 September 2021.
How the new Agricultural visa works
The Australian Government is introducing this visa in phases.
Phase 1 December 2021 to March 2022: phase one will offer a limited amount of employment due to quarantine restrictions, with a small number of accredited employers that have been approved based on their pre-existing experience with PALM scheme to protect workers from exploitation. Phase one is reliant on boarders, quarantine for safe entry into Australia and readiness of the country. Under Australia’s current covid-19 response plan all international workers must undertake quarantine, which will be arranged with the industries and individual Australian state/territory governments and their representing Chief Health Officers.
Phase 2 from April 2022 onwards the number of employers, eligible workers and countries participating will slowly increase.
Key notable features of the new Agricultural visa
- Strongly governed program that will be overseen with minimum standards and safeguards in place
- Labour testing to source for supply and demand in participating industries
- Visas are employer sponsored and hold employers to a series of obligations and responsibilities for their employee’s welfare
- Workers may move between employers where there is demand and remain protected by workers rights
- Supporting workers welfare and safety including assisting in circumstances where employees have low English dialect
- The programs standards will line up with current Australian pacific workers programs, to protect workers from exploitation
- Skill requirement varies
- The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment will assist in ensuring primary industry sectors needs are met.
Permanent residency pathway of the new Agricultural visa
Permanent residency pathways are being explored by the Australian government for participants in the program which will be announced later in 2021/ early 2022.
Worker protection for the new Agricultural visa holders
- Agricultural visas fall under the same workers’ rights and protection as Australian citizens and all other visa holders. Wages and entitlement must match accordingly to the current law. Workers’ rights and protection will be monitored by the Australian border force and fair work ombudsman
- Worker’s protection standards are being modelled off current Pacific Workers Programs
- The Australian government is working with individual state/territory governments to harmonise and establish national labour hire regulations