Homes to accommodate harvest jobs bonanza

Thousands of jobs are up for grabs as the South Australian agricultural industry braces for a bumper harvest.

The jobs, based in regional South Australia, are typically filled by interstate or overseas workers, but due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, companies, like bulk grain handler Viterra, are calling on locals to fill these roles.

Already, hotels and motels are being booked out in regional towns, but more accommodation is needed for this influx of workers.

That’s why the Marshall Liberal Government is temporarily changing planning rules, to streamline the development application process, ensuring short-term accommodation can be set up quickly.

“Farmers and bulk handlers, such as Viterra, are anticipating a big harvest for South Australian growers, and they need the workers to support getting it into storage,” Minister for Planning and Local Government Vickie Chapman said.

“These changes are expected to significantly reduce the time it takes to gain approval to build temporary accommodation for these workers.

“The changes are temporary, but I encourage other farmers to speak up if they believe this regulation change could help them as well.

“This Government is unashamedly committed to attracting and supporting our regions, particularly if it will see more South Australians getting into work,” she said.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham said there are State and Federal Government incentives in place to encourage people to move to the regions for work.

“Regional job opportunities are booming across South Australia, we just need people to consider their options and make a move to take up these positions,” Minister Basham said.

“South Australia’s primary industries are a major part of our state economy and the Marshall Liberal Government has been working closely with industry as well as the Federal Government to fill seasonal worker shortages to ensure our state’s crops are harvested.

“This includes our nation-leading Paringa quarantine solution which safely allowed more than 800 seasonal workers from the Pacific Islands to complete quarantine in the Riverland and begin this important work.

“There are incentives including up to $6,000 to encourage people to work in our regions and I would urge anyone looking for a job to have a look at what’s available with a range of sectors seeking hundreds of workers in the months ahead,” he said.

Viterra, which is responsible for originating, storing, handling, transporting and marketing a range of agricultural commodities said this year’s harvest is predicted to be above average, with high grain prices.

Viterra anticipates that through its network, local growers will contribute up to $3.5 billion to the South Australian economy.

“We have had a strong season exporting South Australian grain to international markets, and are looking forward to another busy shipping season with demand for grain from our network. We have already received considerable export bookings for the coming season, which is a true commitment and huge vote of confidence in South Australian grain from buyers all over the world,” said Viterra Chief Operations Officer James Murray.

“We are looking to recruit around 1500 seasonal workers who are more critical than ever, to keep our supply chain open for local growers and buyers in Australia and overseas. This temporary accommodation initiative by the South Australian government to support seasonal workers is very much welcomed and will make an invaluable difference in attracting people to apply.”

The planning regulation change means;

  • Bulk handlers and other farmers won’t have to obtain planning consent for temporary accommodation proposals
  • Development applications will be assessed by the State Planning Commission, rather than Councils, to ensure any development approval granted is appropriately and consistently conditioned.

“Companies will still need to obtain building rules consent from a private certifier, to make sure matters such as wastewater and smoke alarms are dealt with accordingly,” Minister Chapman said.

The changes will only apply for a limited period and in a limited number of locations designated by the Chief Executive of the Attorney-General’s Department and published on the PlanSA Portal.

If you’re looking for regional work, the website is a one-stop-shop that lists jobs on offer and the support available.

In addition to this website, the State Government has launched a Regional Development strategy which will help shape the long-term direction of regional South Australia.

The strategy outlines how the government is working with communities to encourage regional development across the state, support communities to be resilient to challenges and help them thrive.

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