The McGowan Government will work closely with Timor-Leste as part of a pilot project to address the seasonal labour needs of the Western Australia horticultural industry.
The Pacific Labour Scheme – Horticultural Industry Facilitation Pilot Project will identify the medium-term labour needs, constraints and opportunities within the fruit and vegetable industries, to help support WA’s horticultural growers.
The project will run for 12 months and include up to 12 WA fruit and vegetable growing businesses from Kununurra in the north to Albany in the south.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development will partner with vegetablesWA to match semiskilled and skilled workers from Pacific Island labour programs with Western Australian horticultural businesses, with a focus on engaging Timor-Leste seasonal work visa holders.
The Timor-Leste Ambassador to Australia, Abel Guterres, joined Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan and vegetablesWA CEO John Shannon at horticultural businesses in Albany and Manjimup today to see firsthand the opportunities the program can provide for WA growers.
WA’s horticultural industries are valued at over $1.1 billion and employ more than 5,600 workers, 16 per cent of all employment in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector.
As stated by Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan:
“To continue to grow the State’s horticultural industry we need a secure and reliable workforce.
“The labour scheme pilot project will begin to address the labour needs of WA’s horticultural industry and strengthen linkages with our Pacific neighbours.
“Getting a clearer understanding of the barriers to accessing and retaining seasonal visa workers will be an important first step in designing future workforce needs.
“Due to its geographical proximity to WA, it makes sense to look to Timor-Leste for opportunities to establish a long-term partnership to place more of its workers with WA businesses.
“I have worked on driving partnerships with Timorese workers over the last decade, recognising the great value and mutual benefits in establishing a stronger relationship.
“In 2018, more than 250 workers from Timor-Leste were employed across WA’s horticultural industry in roles that include harvesting, planting, sorting, packing, pruning and general farm maintenance.”