Australia provides new visa rule for seasonal workers
Samoans and other foreigners who are in Australia for seasonal work have been given permission to continue to work during the COVID19 pandemic border shutdowns.
In a joint statement issued by Marise Payne, Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Alex Hawke, Australia's Minister for International Development and the Pacific, new visa measures as a result of Australia's COVID19 response.
“Pacific workers who are in Australia under the Pacific Labour Scheme (P.L.S.) and Seasonal Worker Programme (S.W.P.) whose visas are due to expire will be able to remain in Australia for up to 12 months,” reads the release.
It also added that this will enable them to support themselves and continue to make a critical contribution to Australia’s agriculture sector and food security.
“The welfare of Pacific workers in Australia is a priority for the Australian Government.
“We are working with employers to ensure Pacific workers are supported through the COVID-19 crisis, particularly those workers who are currently unable to return home.”
The release added Pacific and Timorese workers are highly valued by Australia's agricultural employers who have made it clear they want the workers to be able to remain there and continue to work.
“Many of these workers have been coming to Australia for a number of years and have strong connections to Australian farming communities.
“Current travel restrictions and the cessation of commercial flights have left some workers unable to return home, while also stopping new cohorts of Pacific workers from travelling to Australia.
“The flow of remittances back to Pacific communities’ makes an important contribution to their ability to withstand the economic impacts of COVID-19.
The Australian Government is providing Pacific workers with the latest health advice and guidance on navigating COVID-19 restrictions and providing other forms of support including pastoral care and information in Pacific languages on issues such as social distancing.
“All Pacific Islander and Timorese workers have appropriate health insurance and will be cared for in the event they become unwell.
“We want to assure our Pacific neighbours that Australia stands with them during this crisis and we are doing all we can to support Pacific workers in Australia.”