Future Orchards springs back into orchards as states tackle labour issueNews
APAL’s spring Future Orchards® walks will return to orchards in South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania, with Victoria and New South Wales walks to be delivered online, from tomorrow.
The walks, delivered in partnership with AgFirst, will focus on planning for reduced labour availability this season, giving growers tools to inform decision making under a range of labour supply scenarios.
At each session AgFirst’s Ross Wilson and Craig Hornblow will identify what can be done in the orchard where there is a shortage of workers and how to make the most of workforce that is available.
Jeremy Griffith, Head of Government Relations at APAL, will be online to provide a quick update on the current situation in Australia, while there will also be a panel of Australian growers who will discuss how they are approaching the issue.
APAL CEO Phil Turnbull said labour issues were front and centre for growers across the nation.
“In a year where Australian apple and pear growers should be looking to capitalise on improved seasonal conditions and strong demand, we are instead contemplating strategies to limit production because we can’t be confident we will have enough labour to pick the crop,” said Mr Turnbull.
“Producers around the world are facing a similar challenge so there is a lot we can learn and share.
“In Australia we also have the challenges created by national and state border restrictions and these continue to evolve.”
State labour movements
All states are encouraging growers and job seekers alike to access the Harvest Trail website for accessing and advertising seasonal work.
Tasmania has kicked off a campaign to attract local workers to seasonal agricultural work.
The $1.9 million Agricultural Workforce Resilience Package was launched on the weekend and will run in the state’s newspapers and on social media over the next few weeks.
New South Wales is among five states to agree to the Agricultural Workers Code, as well as looking at options regarding reopening the Seasonal Workers Programme.
The Western Australian Government is investing $3 million to encourage locals to take up seasonal agricultural jobs.
The Primary Industries Workers Regional Travel and Accommodation Support Scheme will see eligible workers who move to regions struggling for labour able to claim up to $40 a night in accommodation rebates for up to 12 weeks – for a maximum total rebate of $3,360.
A travel allowance is available to those relocating more than 100 kilometres from their usual place of residence.
The scheme follows the launch of the Work and Wander out Yonder campaign – promoting local jobs in agriculture, tourism and hospitality throughout regional WA.
The rebate scheme will take effect from 21 September, 2020 – more info on how to submit a claim is available here.
Peak bodies such as Growcom are calling on Queenslanders to take up agricultural work where possible.
Work is ongoing in easing border restrictions with New South Wales.
All Victorian businesses with five or more employees are required to have a COVIDSafe Plan – these plans do not have to be registered with the State Government.
The Refugee Council of Australia has also floated a proposal to have refugees go bush to fill picking jobs.
South Australia has committed to the Agriculture Workers Movement Code.
Time and locations of orchard walks
Orchard walks online presentations (streaming independently over two timeslots)
Southern Victoria – Thursday 17 September from 11am – 1pm (AEST)
Orange – Friday 18 September from 9 – 11am (AEST)
Batlow – Friday 18 September from 9 – 11am (AEST)
Goulburn Valley – Friday 18 September from 9 – 11am (AEST)
In-orchard demonstrations (including online presentation)
Tasmania – Thursday 17 September from 9am – 1pm (local time)
Western Australia – Thursday 17 September from 9am – 1pm (local time)
South Australia – Thursday 17 September from 10.30am – 2pm (local time)
Stanthorpe – Friday 18 September from 9am – 1pm (local time)
Future Orchards® is an APAL project delivered in partnership with AgFirst and funded by Hort Innovation using the apple and pear levy with matched funds from the Australian Government.