Youth focus for farm funds

YOUNG people across the Limestone Coast and western Victoria are being encouraged to take a domestic gap year to work in the agriculutre sector this harvest season as part of national farmer support package.

The Federal Government will invest $16.3m in temporary Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY eligibility changes to incentivise people to take up seasonal farm work over summer.

Member for Barker Tony Pasin said the electorate’s agriculture sector faced unprecedented pressure on labour supply as a result of COVID-19” said Tony Pasin.

“Under changes to the Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY criteria, a person who earns $15,000 through employment in the agricultural sector in regional Australia between November 30, 2020 and December 31, 2021, whose parents have a combined income of less than $160,000 a year (plus $10,000 for each child), will be considered as independent for the purpose of Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY,” Mr Pasin said.

“This will significantly reduce the time needed for a young person to gain ‘independent’ status and claim Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY faster than under the existing criteria,” he said.

“These changes will support critical food production in Barker so that farm produce does not go to waste and will help ensure the agricultural sector continues to play a key role in our local community’s economic recovery.”

The government will also invest a further $9m in the Seasonal Worker Programme to ensure employers can meet critical seasonal labour needs.

The funding aims to ensure the program has the resources to accommodate significant growth and ensure appropriate oversight is in place to protect the welfare of workers.

These measures build on others already introduced to fill labour shortages in the agriculture sector since the onset of COVID-19, including providing visa extensions to allow temporary visa holders wishing to work in agriculture and for agriculture workers to stay with one employer for a longer period as well as providing Relocation Assistance to help cover the costs of relocation for employment for eligible Australians and visa holders.