Government Calls On Backpackers To Help Bushfire Affected Communities Rebuild
Backpackers are being invited to help Australian farmers and communities rebuild after devastating bushfires, with visa changes designed to encourage them to join the effort.
Under the changes, backpackers will be able to count volunteering as work when applying to extend their working holiday visas, and those in bushfire zones can stay with the same employer for a year rather than six months, The Australian reports.
Construction work in disaster zones will also count as work under the new rules designed to support farmers and regional businesses.
The changes are set to be announced by Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge in regional Victoria on Monday.
Tudge said the working holidaymakers would be able to help farmers and businesses with demolition and land clearing on properties, as well as repairing dams, roads and railways.
"These hardworking Australians have been hit by the recent bushfires, but from today they can employ backpackers for six months longer, helping them at a critical time in the recovery effort," he told the publication.
"This recovery will be driven locally, by local workers and communities. But this will be a massive recovery effort and we want businesses and charitable organisations to have as many boots on the ground as they need."
The visa rule changes follow recommendations from the National Bushfire Recovery Agency.