Labour mobility program reforms will benefit workers and approved employers
23 November 2021
AUSVEG, the peak industry body for vegetable and potato growers, has supported the Federal Government’s announcement of the next stage of reforms to the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme.
Under the reforms, the two existing PALM initiatives – the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) – will be consolidated and operated under a single PALM scheme. It will commence in April 2022 and be managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Reforms announced today to the PALM scheme include:
- Extending visa validity of up to four years will be permitted.
- Allowing seasonal workers to apply onshore for a longer-term visa, where they have been identified by their employer as suitable for ongoing, year-round or higher skilled work.
- Allowing seasonal workers to move between employers more easily, which will better meet workforce needs and maximise their earnings – these arrangements will be subject to consent by workers and overseen by the Government, to ensure worker wellbeing is maintained.
- The Fair Work Ombudsman will continue to be funded to provide education and proactive checks to ensure workers are paid in accordance with Australian laws and Fair work conditions.
The PALM scheme will remain uncapped, and demand driven. It will be the primary means of filling unskilled to semi-skilled workforce shortages in rural and regional Australia. These reforms build on the initial stage of reforms announced in September that allowed employers to apply to join the PLS and SWP through a single application, making it easier and less burdensome for growers to access workers through these programs.
AUSVEG CEO Michael Coote said the vegetable industry welcomed the announcement from the Morrison Government, as these reforms to consolidate the SWP and PLS schemes better meet the needs of workers and businesses in the Australian vegetable industry.
“The SWP and PLS are important labour programs for our industry, not just as a source of critical labour during the current labour shortages, but also as programs that prioritise workers’ welfare and allow our industry to develop close ties to our regional neighbours and support workers and their communities,” said Mr Coote.
“These programs form a critical component to addressing the significant labour shortages that continue to impact the industry, which has been estimated to reach up to 24,000 harvest workers in early 2022 for the coming peak harvest season.
“Streamlining the application process for businesses to access workers under the consolidated PALM scheme will benefit workers and approved employers that can demonstrate a good record that also have financial capacity to support workers.
“These programs are designed to not only provide an adequate pool of willing workers for industry but support the proper treatment of workers and their communities. These reforms will make the PALM scheme more accessible and easier to navigate for both workers and approved employers. We welcome the announcement of the reforms and look forward to working with the government to ensuring that the PALM scheme meets the needs of workers and employers.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Shaun Lindhe, AUSVEG National Manager – Communications
Mobile: 0405 977 789, Email: email@example.com