The Australian Government’s Seasonal Worker Program (SWP) and Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) initiatives recommenced in Queensland last November when 151 workers arrived from Tonga to support agribusinesses across the state.
Queensland is the first and to date only jurisdiction in Australia using on-farm quarantine for workers from Pacific islands with the lowest risk of COVID-19. More than 450 workers have arrived from Tonga and the Solomon Islands to alleviate the seasonal agricultural labour shortages in North and Central Qld and the Wide Bay/Burnett regions.
The trial, which has been extended to 4 March 2021 in response to identified labour shortages, is led by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland providing worksite and accommodation compliance monitoring. The SWP and PLS workers are employed to pick citrus, grapes, sweet potatoes, bananas, berries and apples, or to work in food processing facilities.
To date, approved employers have met the challenges of enabling the workers to safely work while in quarantine, with some accommodated off-farm. Some of the quarantine processes include colour coding for each cohort of workers and providing induction, information and training in their first language.
Accommodation for these workers must also meet the requirements of the Queensland Government approved International Quarantine Plan, Australian Government scheme requirements, and local council laws.
Some of the first workers to arrive in Queensland went to Craig Pressler’s farm in Central Queensland. Listen as we talk to Craig and his Research and Development Manager Andrew Miles about the ins and outs of on-farm quarantine. You can also download the file or read a transcript.