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Statement From The Department of Home Affairs

The below response can be attributed to a spokesperson from the Department of Home Affairs:

• The Australian Government is committed to supporting the skills needs of regional Australia – including the agriculture sector. Access to foreign workers through the visa system is possible where Australian workers are not available. • There are a range of visa options currently in place which are used to fill regional skills and labour shortages.

• The new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa, introduced in March 2018, provides regional concessions, enabling regional employers to fill essential vacancies faster.

o The Government has streamlined processing for the new TSS visa, particularly for positions located in regional areas. o Employers in regional areas are also able to access additional occupations compared to metropolitan employers.

• There are also a range of visa options for Agricultural work - including skilled migration, seasonal worker programs and the working holiday maker visa.

• Last year the Government announced a number of enhancements to the working holiday maker program to assist farmers. These changes included lifting the annual caps on visas, expanding the number of regional areas where work and holiday makers can work in specified farming work, and allowing 12 months of work with the same agricultural employer.

• In 2018-19, there was a 20 per cent increase in the number of young people granted a second year working holiday visa. This means more young people working in and supporting regional areas, particularly on farms, as only working holiday makers who complete three months of specified work in a regional area can access the second-year visa. • The Department of Home Affairs and Australian Border Force (ABF) work closely with partner agencies and the community to address illegal work activities, the exploitation of foreign workers and systematic visa fraud within the migration programme. • Before a business or employer engages a non-citizen for work it is their responsibility to confirm if the individual can lawfully work whilst in Australia. This includes foreign workers hired through a labour hire or referral company. Businesses can do this easily by using the Visa Entitlement Verification Online System (VEVO) to ensure their worker are permitted to work.