Using the National Call Centre to get workers

By Peter Angel

The National Call Centre registers and promotes seasonal job vacancies and connects people looking for those jobs with growers. But what support can you expect when you call?

How does the Call Centre know what I need?

The Call Centre is based in Mildura in north-west Victoria, which is the service town for the large and diverse Sunraysia horticulture region. Our operators have been with the Call Centre for up to ten years and live locally, so they have a good idea of the practicalities of horticulture.

Not-for-profit company, MADEC, operates the Call Centre under the Federal Government’s National Harvest Labour Information Service (NHLIS) and has its headquarters in Mildura. MADEC not only runs the NHLIS but also seven regional Harvest Labour Service offices, and is Australia’s most active approved employer under the Seasonal Worker Programme. Seasonal employment for agriculture, particularly horticulture, is a strong focus for MADEC.

Because of the experience of MADEC and our staff, when you ring the Call Centre you will speak to someone who understands your needs. They know the nature of the job and the frustrations that can occur, especially for employment matters.

What details do I need to give?

The information you will need to provide when you call is quite simple and you will know the details because you know your own business. You will need to have your ABN on hand which assists with the integrity of the service and protects all parties. Along with a contact name and phone number, most of the conversation will be around the details of the job and how it will be listed on the Harvest Trail website

Jobs will generally go live on the website within a couple of hours. The Call Centre staff may start referring enquiries immediately, the moment they know the details. You may wish to provide a different phone number for potential employees to ring you to keep control of calls, and offering applicants to contact you by email only can also be arranged.

Common practice is for the employer to talk directly to interested workers. Once our staff have someone on the phone who sounds suitable, they will put the caller on hold, ring the grower and ask if they would like to receive the call, then transfer the workers to the grower. That way you get to speak to the potential employees yourself and decide whether you would like to give them an opportunity to work for you. There is no obligation to employ those put through, like any job applicant they must convince you they are suitable.

How soon will I get workers?

Generally, vacancies will be filled quite quickly, a few days are usually all that is needed, and in just a few hours is not uncommon. This means that lodging a vacancy just a week out from your need is usually enough, however you should consider the factors that may influence this. If you need lots of workers; if transport to the region is limited or expensive or the work is not popular, then listing earlier is desirable. Also, consider if there are likely to be a limited number of people that qualify, particularly if you are looking for experience, then you will also need to start earlier.

Once you believe you have enough workers, simply phone the Call Centre again and ask them to remove the vacancy and no more referrals will be made.

How much does the service cost?

The service does not cost either the employer or the worker anything. It is funded by government to support the industry. It is simple to use, can be arranged with just a phone call, and is generally a pleasant experience with helpful, knowledgeable Call Centre staff. Their role is to look after your labour supply and they take pleasure in helping you out.

How do I access the service?

The Call Centre is open all weekdays (except national public holidays) and has extended hours from 8am to 8pm eastern time so you can call when it is convenient to you.

To access the service simply call 1800 062 332 (free from landlines). To see listed jobs visit the Harvest Trail website.