Improving the profitability & sustainability of Esperance port zone grain growers

Labour shortage - options for this harvest

A skilled labour shortage has been flagged as a looming issue this harvest due to WA’s hard border to the rest of Australia and the world.

The minister for Agriculture and Food, Alannah MacTiernan has indicated that the chances of workers being allowed entry from overseas or the eastern states is increasingly unlikely. Instead the Government is supporting local training options.

Employing Local Workers

The WA Government is putting significant resources into getting Australians trained; and is also working to connect the existing cohort of Working Holiday Makers to employers – if they have the required skills and experience.

In terms of seeking local labour to address shortfalls, DPIRD, in partnership with industry groups, has launched www.jobsinwafoodandag.com/. The website allows for job seekers to register to receive important information, job alerts, details of upcoming seasonal labour requirements and important regional travel information.

There is also a job matching platform https://studium.work/ that has a database of WA Uni students and backpackers wanting to work in ag.  DPIRD have funded job matching services  and the employers can contact Stuart Scott This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to see if there is anyone on the database who might be able to help out in the Esperance region who has the required skills already.

There have been over 7,500 register that they are looking for work on this site.

Training Local Workers

There are free TAFE short courses to provide Job Ready skill sets for:

  • Persons aged 15—24 years at the time of enrolment (excluding school students)
  • Secondary school-aged persons who are not enrolled at school
  • Persons receiving the JobSeeker or JobKeeper payment; Youth Allowance and concession card holders

Other free Courses include:

  • Work in Agriculture skill set (tractor operations; operating machinery and equipment, safe handling chemicals; work health and safety procedures) and is being offered at Muresk: (www2.dtwd.wa.gov.au/mureskinstitute/latest-news/work-in-agriculture)

Muresk is also running a more advanced Certificate III in Agriculture (Broadacre Harvest). Muresk is committed to offering this course to as many people as required and will work with employers and employment agencies to get these trained workers placed into harvest roles.  This five-day course will provide the skills required to obtain employment for the harvest season. Units covered include operation of specialised machinery and equipment and undertaking crop harvesting. The first course will be delivered at Muresk Institute, Northam from 14 September 2020. For further enquiries contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Private training provider 2WorkInOz (Ley Webster) is running GIWA funded Grain harvest training courses. Cost of the program is $237 – but that includes accommodation (dorm style) and all meals for the 4 day training program (subsided by GIWA/Careers in Grain).

International worker exemption process

If you still want to try to get international workers to travel into WA during the COVID19 restricted travel period, then you will need to apply ASAP, knowing the chances are unlikely.

Anyone wanting to come to Australia must apply for a travel exemption. See: https://covid19.govcms.gov.au/critical-skills-and-sectors . This Federal website states that exemptions will only be provided where there is a compassionate or compelling reason to travel to Australia and will need to have an exemption from the Australian Border Force Commissioner. All travellers arriving must undertake a mandatory 14-day quarantine at designated facilities (for example, a hotel), in their port of arrival, at their own expense. There will also be an application process to enter WA – but the international border will be the first hurdle and should be addressed first.  

The Commissioner of the Australian Border Force (ABF) may consider an exemption for “people with critical skills (for example, medical specialists, engineers, marine pilots and crews) but at this stage

international workers wanting to enter Australia to work in the grain industry is not included in their exemptions.

A request to travel form can be accessed at the following website https://travel-exemptions.homeaffairs.gov.au/tep

The more detail around the request, particularly as to availability of the critical skill in Australia and the need for the work, the better the likelihood of an approved application.

Unless growers are going through a labour hire agency, they will need to submit the applications themselves for each individual traveller.

Businesses or travellers will also need to download a new app - G2G PASS to apply and demonstrate proof of an exemption before travelling to or around WA.  

On arriving, at this time, workers will be required to quarantine for 2 weeks on arrival in WA.  This will be at the contractors/workers cost. Details on quarantine can be found through this link https://www.police.wa.gov.au/State-of-Emergency-COVID19-Pandemic