For anyone looking for harvest work at the moment, the Harvest Trail Information Service has a tip for travellers – do your homework and be prepared.
More work available
In welcome news for anyone looking for harvest work, there is currently a good range of jobs to choose from, as growers have to replace workers who have left the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the peak harvest season in southern states will only commence from about October onwards, the number of job vacancies is only likely to increase.
While that’s good news for anyone looking for work, remember there are quite a few potential obstacles in the way before a job vacancy turns into an actual job.
Border and other travel restrictions
Before any job is accepted, make sure you can actually travel to where the work is located. There are currently restrictions on entering most Australian states and territories, although some exemptions exist for agricultural and horticultural workers. However, even if an exemption is granted, there will still likely be two weeks of mandatory quarantine required – at your expense.
Internal travel restrictions also exist in states such as Victoria, where travel to and from the Melbourne metropolitan area is highly restricted and requires permits.
Travel restrictions change frequently and at short notice, so it is essential to check the most up to date information which can be found on sites such as https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-restrictions/coronavirus-covid-19-domestic-travel-restrictions-and-remote-area-access
Check with growers
Once it is confirmed that travel restrictions will still allow movement to a farm for work, it is most important to check with the farm or business to ensure that all of the required paperwork has been completed – some for workers and some by the business. Some states require farms to have a registered COVID-19 health plan, registered with the state health department before travel passes can be issued.
It is also important to provide potential employers with accurate information on your current location and movements for the past couple of weeks. Farms and nearby towns are particularly cautious about letting workers travel into their communities from other areas of Australia where COVID-19 may be more widespread. Any potential issues can usually be sorted out fairly quickly, but the key is to have good communication with potential employers and provide honest information about recent travel.
Accepting a job offer is not the end of the issues – securing appropriate accommodation may be the most difficult issue of all.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 social distancing requirements, many accommodation providers (including backpackers and caravan parks) have reduced their capacity, or in some extreme cases, closed altogether. Some are reluctant to allow new guests into their accommodation, so once again, check before you travel. Border permits often require confirmed accommodation arrangements anyway so it is best to get this sorted before travelling.
Harvest Trail Information Service can help
As well as listing jobs, the new and enhanced Harvest Trail Information Service can provide advice on a wide range of issues facing horticulture workers at the moment – from travel to accommodation.
The best way to contact the Harvest Trail Information Service is by speaking to one of the experienced operators at the national contact and communications centre on 1800 062 332, which operates from 8am to 8pm Mon-Fri. There is no cost for jobseekers to use this service. The national harvest Facebook page is also a good source of real time information on vacancies and other relevant happenings within the horticulture industry.