The federal government will ease up on the otherwise tough visa regulations to make it easier for a few spare hands abroad to pitch in once in Australia.
While a lot of folks like to think of a holiday as a chance to get away from their day jobs, others like to take advantage of a sojourn that's more like a working vacation. The caveat is that if you're willing to work up a sweat, the benefits include generating a few warm fuzzies while helping out the locals and at least being able to recoup the funds spent on things like plane fare.
This is where Australia comes in. The land Down Under is looking for a few good folks to head on over, check out the sights, and be prepared to engage in some backbreaking labor. Apparently, the country is facing a shortage of workers in the agrarian sector and in order to maintain food production, the federal government announced on Tuesday its plans to ease up on the otherwise tough visa regulations to make it easier for a few spare hands abroad to pitch in once they reach Oz.
One big change includes giving backpacking visitors the opportunity to double the length of their stays in the country, as previous restrictions only allowed working agricultural foreigners to be in Australia for six months. On top of that, any workers who get additional farm gigs can remain in the country for up to three years.
Other changes include raising the age limit from 30 to 35 and offering the chance for workers to look for farm jobs in other regions of the country. Previous visa rules restricted workers to agricultural occupations in Northern Australia.
Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison, however, said that citizens in the country said they would get the first crack at any of those rural gigs. Failing that, and in order to get the product off the fields in time, the government hopes to attract labor from abroad, especially with various stipulations lifted from work visas.
Bringing in foreign backpacking workers is an economic injector, however small it might be. In 2018, more than 419,000 laborers from abroad contributed $920 million to Australia's economy. But the work comes with its own set of risks. Since 2012, 14 people from the Pacific Islands died on the job.