Extra dollars while picking fruit
It is now about twelve months since the COVID-19 pandemic started to have a significant impact in Australia. The first national movement restrictions commencing on Wednesday 18th March, followed by the closure of the international border two days later. This has resulted in a significant shortage of overseas workers. Consequently growers are increasingly turning to Australian citizens to pick and pack fruit crops. Fortunately there are a range of financial assistance packages to make it easier to move to regional areas where most of the jobs are.
Incentives are either available for work anywhere in Australia, or in specific states. There are several programs.
Relocation Assistance To Take Up A Job – Australia wide
The Relocation Assistance To Take Up A Job (RATTUAJ) program is run by the Commonwealth Government and is available Australia wide. If you need to move away from home to take up short-term agricultural work for at least six weeks duration, you may be able to get financial assistance to help cover the costs of your move.
Am I eligible for relocation assistance?
Assistance may be available to people who relocate to a harvest area or regional area to take up short-term agricultural work. This includes Australians who are not receiving income support, and others with the right to work in Australia.
How much assistance can I receive?
If you are an Australian or you have a visa that allows you to work in Australia, and you relocate to take up short-term agricultural work (at least 6 weeks and at least 120 hours) you may be eligible to be reimbursed up to:
Where can I move to?
When you relocate to take up short-term agricultural work, your new location must:
- be within Australia
- be at least 90 minutes away from where you currently live, based on your normal mode of transport
- not be within the same capital city.
What can I use the assistance for?
Relocation assistance is flexible and can be used for a range of items, such as:
- some employment-related expenses.
More information: Relocation Assistance or 1800 062 332
A separate “Regional Accommodation and Travel Support Program” applies for people who relocate to do horticulture work in WA.
Who can apply for funding?
Any person living in Australia who has work rights and has relocated more than 100 kilometres from their home address to take up employment in agriculture in regional WA can apply. You must work for at least two consecutive weeks for the same employer
An accommodation allowance of $40 per night and a one-off travel allowance of between $150 and $500 (depending on the region travelled to) can be claimed.
Further information: WA Regional Workers Scheme
Queensland has “The Back to Work in Agriculture Incentive Scheme” which provides financial assistance for people who relocate to do horticulture work in Queensland.
Who can apply for funding?
Australian citizens residing in Queensland who relocate to undertake work in agriculture can apply.
Assistance is available for eligible people. Payments of up to $1,500 may be made to assist with accommodation and transport costs associated with travelling and staying in remote locations. You need to work on an eligible farm (or farms) full-time for two weeks to receive the first instalment and another six weeks to get the second instalment.
Further information: Qld Relocation scheme
The Victorian Government’s Seasonal Harvest Sign-on Bonus is an extra payment for jobseekers who take up a harvest job on a Victorian farm this season.
Two bonus payments over eight weeks
The Victorian Government is giving eligible workers $2,430 for eight weeks of seasonal harvest work on a Victorian horticulture farm. The bonus will get the bonus in two instalments:
- • An initial $810, after doing 10 days of work within a 30-day period
- • A further $1,620, after an doing additional 30 days of work within a 90-day period.
In addition to the work requirements, to be eligible for the Seasonal Harvest Sign-on Bonus, you must also:
- • start your harvest job on or after 17 February 2021
- • be 18 years or older and have work rights in Australia
- • not be employed under the Pacific Labour Scheme or Seasonal Worker Programme.
When you apply for the bonus, you will need to provide evidence of your employment and that you’ve met the work requirements. The Seasonal Harvest Sign-on Bonus is for jobseekers who are new to agriculture and who are joining the horticulture workforce. If you’ve worked in agriculture in Victoria in the three months prior to 17 February 2021, you won’t be eligible for the bonus.
You can move between Victorian harvest jobs and still be eligible for the bonus. You can apply for the initial bonus through www.agriculture.vic.gov.au/bigharvest after completing the first 10 days of work.
Get extra benefits for relocating
You may be eligible to claim the sign-on bonus, as well as the Commonwealth Government’s Relocation Assistance To Take Up A Job (discussed earlier in this article) if you move to a regional area for harvest work.
Wherever you travel to in Australia to take up short term agriculture work there are potential financial payments available to assist with relocation.
These schemes and payments can change quickly and may be subject to funding or time limits. Make sure you do thorough research before you decide to move to a job in a regional area and don’t just assume you will be able to access relocation assistance.
This article is intended to provide access to information and resources to promote an understanding of work and travel restrictions in response to COVID-19.
This article contains links to websites that are operated by third parties not under the control of MADEC Australia (MADEC). Unless expressly stated MADEC does not approve, endorse or recommend any information, products or services referred to or on the third party websites.
To the maximum extent possible, MADEC excludes liability for any loss suffered as a result of access to or use of third party websites, or reliance on the information contained therein. The terms and conditions of use and privacy policies of the third party websites will apply to the users of those websites.