Backpacker numbers continue to declineAugust 21st, 2018 | | employment
ABOUT 8000 would-be backpackers were knocked back from travelling and working in Australia last year, new figures show.
And the overall number of working holiday-makers has continued to decline, with just 210,456 visa applications granted in 2017-18, compared with 211,011 the previous year.
But that figure could have been a lot higher — Department of Home Affairs figures show 218,441 applications for 417 and 462 visas were lodged last financial year, up about 4000 from the previous year.
It has prompted farmers — who rely on backpackers for labour — to renew calls for a dedicated agriculture visa to address workforce shortages across the sector.
Backpacker numbers have dropped over the past five years, with fewer applications coming from the 417 visa class, which covers the UK, Taiwan, Hong Kong and many European countries.
There were 155,162 first-year 417 visa applications last year — down from 159,444 the year before — with 152,622 granted.
Second-year 417 visa applications — which backpackers can apply for if they complete three months’ regional work — increased to 38,076, but 5248 were rejected.
The department’s working holiday-maker report said the reduced grant numbers could be influenced by „changing economic conditions and seasonal variability in visa application numbers in partner countries”.
Applications are also often refused if the forms have not been filled in correctly, or if applicants don’t meet all required checks.
There were 25,203 applications for 462 visas, which cover holiday-makers from countries including the US and China — with 25,006 approved.
Victorian Farmers Federation horticulture president Emma Germano said the figures showed why a dedicated agriculture visa was needed.
“Even when (the number of working holiday-makers) is at its peak, it’s not enough to fill our work shortages,” Ms Germano said.
„The farming sector has consistently said it is not enough to help with our harvests.
„We still don’t see it as the most productive way to fill our needs.”
Voice of Horticulture chair Tania Chapman said the decrease hit all of regional Australia.
„These guys come into the regions, they then spend that money touring around Australia, so it’s actually a loss for the Australian economy,” she said.
An agriculture-specific visa is being considered as part of the Federal Government’s visa system reforms.
Do we need another new visa for agriculture?
Or is this just extra red tape for the government to manage?
Source: The Weekly Times
Sourced by Mike Barrow