Project to grow Southern Queensland’s agriculture workforce

Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills Development The Honourable Di Farmer

Minister Farmer and the Regional Forum visiting Bunnyconnellen, Crows Nest

Migrants, refugees and international students will be supported to find work in South West Queensland’s agricultural sector as part of the Palaszczuk Government’s Diverse Queensland Workforce program.

Minister for Training and Skills Development Di Farmer made the announcement while visiting Crows Nest for the Darling Downs-South West Regional Community Forum.

“Regional Community Forums are a way for Ministers, Members of Parliament, and forum members to gather and discuss local priorities and projects,” Minister Farmer said.

“We know that one of the big challenges in the region is find the right people for the right jobs, which is why I am so pleased that the $200,000 Agriculture Diverse Workforce Program will start this month.

“Growcom Australia will be working with Toowoomba’s Mulberry Project to deliver training, work experience, and placements for 80 participants.

“The Palaszczuk Government’s Diverse Queensland Workforce program and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries are jointly funding this program to support producers who need skilled workers, and people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds who can grow into careers in the industry if given a start.

“This project is delivering on Queensland’s $14.2 billion COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan, which aims to invest in skills to ensure people can find meaningful jobs and build rewarding careers in major industries for their communities.”

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities, Mark Furner, said that by providing training, work experience and employment opportunities the project will be a boost for local agricultural businesses.

“The program provides an excellent platform for industry to continue its leadership in addressing ongoing skilled labour shortages in the agriculture sector,” Minister Furner said.

“This will assist many members of our culturally diverse workforce to gain work and establish themselves and their families in economically strong regions.”

Growcom Australia Chief Executive Officer Stephen Barnard said the program will be a great initiative for fruit, vegetable and nut growers to source local talent while creating sustainable, local and diverse employment opportunities.

“Growcom serves fruit, vegetable and nut growers and is best placed to make the connections between horticulture businesses, migrants, refugees and Australians looking to get their hands on a role,” Mr Barnard said.

“Growcom has been building pathways for new Australians into agriculture for several years now, by collaborating with the Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network local employment initiatives and the Skilling Queenslanders for Work, Community Work Skills program.

“Growers have been hit for six — facing COVID border restrictions and subsequent workforce shortages and at a minimum this initiative will give those hard-hit businesses a chance to source workers locally.

“We will partner with The Mulberry Project — a non-profit organisation that works with migrants and refugees to gain employment — to administer training, work experience and placements for the participants.”

Director of The Mulberry Project, Louise Noble, said programs like this made a real difference.

“Finding and holding a good job is an important step for migrants and refugees because it provides financial security, builds connections with their colleagues and the wider community, and builds self-confidence and motivation,” Ms Noble said.

“Coming out of Multicultural Queensland Month, which was held in August, it is great to see employers, industry, community groups and government creating new opportunities to follow this year’s theme: ‘inclusion in action’.”

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