Category Archives: news

Millett Group do it again in Byron Bay with The Surf House

The Surf House carves out a new style of affordable accommodation in Byron Bay. Offering a savvy design led accommodation option in the best location in town.

Boasting Byron Bay’s only rooftop bar – The Rooftop– serving up the finest local drops.

The third Byron Bay property from Millett Group who own boutique hotel Lord Byron and award winning hostel Wake Up! ByronBay.

Byron Bay’s hottest new address, The Surf House is set to open today offering a bold new accommodation experience right in the hub of the bustling beachside town.

A first of its kind for Byron, the boutique design led property will feature the quality service and facilities of a hotel, alongside the laid-back vibe and social aspect sof a hostel. Located in the heart of Byron Bay town centre, just two streets back from Main Beach in the heritage-listed Byron Council Chambers building, The Surf House effortlessly combines the buildings original architecture with modern design to bring guests a one-of-a-kind memorable accommodation experience.

The Surf House will be home to Byron’s only open-air rooftop bar. Drawing inspiration from Northern NSW old school surf culture, The Rooftop is decked out with beach chic bric-a-brac and vintage Aussie surf posters and photos, including one featuring a young Bob Hawke.

The bar is the perfect spot for guests to unwind with a cold beer from local brewery Stone & Wood after a day catching waves or to kick of their night with a Brookies G&T from Cape Byron Distillery.

The Surf House is the third Byron Bay property from family owned and operated Millett Group and is set to provide a completely new offering for sun seeking travellers heading to the Northern Rivers hotspot. The Group also run The Lord Byron, recognised by Tripadvisor with a 2019 Travellers Choice award and Wake Up! Byron Bay awarded best hostel in Byron Bay in the 2020 Hostelworld HOSCAR’s.

“The last few months have been tough and like so many businesses in the tourism and hospitality industry we’ve had to shift our goal posts and look to provide something that will be attractive to the domestic traveller” says Christian Millett, Owner Operator Millett Group.

“In a competitive market like Byron Bay, we’ve come up with something unique in The Surf House, offering a quality yet affordable accommodation alternative for guests looking to immerse themselves into the iconic Byron Bay lifestyle.”

“Our team have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to get the property ready to open and we can’t wait to host a range of Aussie travellers coming to explore Byron, whether it be for weddings, weekenders with friends and family, remote working, adventure or a romantic getaway!

“The Surf House offers a range of roomtypes to cater to every traveller’s needs. The private queen rooms with balconies, ensuite bathrooms and ocean views will be perfect for those looking for an affordable alternative to Airbnb’s and up market hotels in the area. Alongside the privates is a range of shared room options accommodating four, six or eight guests that are perfect for groups or solo travellers looking to connect with others.

Guests can enjoy complimentary use of surf boards and free high speed Wifi with multiple working spaces making it an attractive haven for digital nomads looking to set up base from Byron. Other features include secure underground parking, 24-hour reception and on-site cooking and laundry facilities. Launching during the current pandemic means that doors will open with the highest hygiene protocols and restrictions on numbers in shared dorms. As restrictions ease later this year guests will be able to enjoy of a range of complimentary social activities including yoga and personal training classes, guided lighthouse tours and regular social events at The Rooftop.

ED: Congrats on another Millett initiative. It’s sure to be a winner!

The Surf House

A: 23 Lawson Street, Byron Bay, NSW 2481


P: +61 2 66 858750


Legendmate, rebuilding tourism online, a new initiative

Tourism in Australia has experienced a uniquely terrible year. After an onslaught of natural disasters and pandemic lockdowns, it’s vital that we collaborate and innovate in order to optimise recovery efforts and pave the way forward.

Building on the great industry initiatives of Courtney Preo from YHA, I created a web-app to help aggregate operators reopening dates, COVID-safe restrictions and important information as it evolves.

From here Legendmate was born.

Legendmate is the simple platform bringing operators together to show our industry is once again open for business. It’s a directory that is accessible anywhere, anytime and for anyone interested. With over 130 products now listed across 40+ destinations, we deliver clear and up-to-date information on booking amazing Australian experiences throughout the reopening phases.

Our industry is working smarter and harder as we adapt with agility to unique market conditions and a customer base in limited supply.

Why use mobile apps? Why not?

Accessing information through a mobile web browser can be a real pain to navigate. We already use apps for 90% of the functionality on our smart devices. At the end of the day, these apps are simply digital assets to use as a functional tool. These can be simple or complex tools (you get what you pay for), but they all must solve a problem.

‘Touch-free’ is the world’s biggest need right now and it’s not all bad news. With mobile technology advancing exponentially, it’s now cheaper, easier to use and more accessible than ever before.

Besides, what industry is more suited to mobility than tourism? We need to leverage technology to suit our customers and products, not the other way around.

Digital transformation is already fundamentally changing the way we do business and interact with others. As we prepare for the inevitable reopening of Australia, we must also look for innovative ways to improve the travel ecosystem in a traditionally fragmented landscape.

The digital disruptors of tomorrow must find new solutions to capture, earn and retain user attention in the modern, mobile-first world.

Join the initiative

If you’re an operator looking to rise from the ashes of a uniquely shithouse 2020, please submit your products and relevant information via the Legendmate app.

When restrictions change or are lifted, simply submit the new conditions and we will remove the old listing.

Share this platform with other operators, travel agents, friends and family. It is a free grassroots initiative that is designed solely to help Australian tourism.

For all the Aussies looking to (finally) explore your own backyard, now is the time to go and support local business!

Legendmate app –

Save to your home screen: Open link in Safari, tap the Share button and ‘Add to Home Screen’.

If you have any questions or comments please reach out:

Looking forward to better days with you all.

ED: Another great initiative in the youth sector.

Source: Legendmate

Sourced by Mike Barrow

Working holiday inquiry must make backpacker program more attractive

An inquiry into the Working Holiday Maker program will ensure it is working effectively to support tourism, health care and agriculture during the COVID-19 economic recovery.

The Joint Standing Committee on Migration launched the inquiry, stating that working holidaymakers contribute about $3 billion a year to the Australian economy and support jobs in regional Australia.

Working holidaymakers are a major contributor to the labour force in the agriculture, tourism, health care and aged care sectors.

There are about 50,000 fewer backpackers in Australia because of the coronavirus.

But once borders re-open, they will be key to filling some roles where Australian workers are usually not available, particularly in regional areas.

The committee will look at how backpackers can complement, rather than compete with those Australian workers laid off because of the pandemic.

READ MORE: Why a skilled worker shortage could push up the price of fruit

Matt Heyes, founder of Backpacker Job Board – a site that helps connect working holidaymakers and employers throughout Australia – welcomed the inquiry.

“Even putting the COVID-19 crisis aside, take-up numbers for the Working Holiday Program have been slowly reducing year-on-year,” Mr Heyes said.

“The package is in need of review.”

“As part of the review, the program needs to be contrasted with similar schemes in other countries. We must make sure that the Australian WHM program competes favourably against other countries.

“Australia is home to some of the most remarkable natural landscapes in the world.

“Working holidaymakers will want to come and be part of a cultural exchange here – but the program itself needs to match (and better) peoples’ expectations.

“We hope the inquiry is not only thorough but is also able to promptly respond to the current crisis and make recommendations which can be expeditiously implemented to help a wider recovery effort.

“This is much-needed to help support the tourism sector and also those industries which rely so heavily on international backpackers.”

Mr Heyes said he’d like the review to revise the backpacker tax and bring back the tax-free threshold.

“Increased regulation and simplification of the current second-year visa extension scheme is also required.”

He would also like to see backpackers who have previously enjoyed a working holiday in Australia offered access to a second.

“This would be a separate scheme to the current second and third-year extensions,” he said.

“An offer of an additional working holiday, to those who may have visited many years ago, would result in a much-needed boost to overall numbers.”

The impact of COVID-19 was far and wide-reaching.

“One of the most difficult issues currently impacting employment is the closure of state borders,” Mr Heyes said.

“Usually, backpackers are more than happy to travel interstate and relocate for the right job opportunity.

“Currently, backpackers are restricted by where they can travel for work.

“What’s more, when following the harvest seasons around the country, backpackers currently have to quarantine on arrival for 14 days prior to commencing work on a farm.”

Mr Heyes said the hospitality and agriculture industries have been hit hard by COVID-19 – two sectors of the Australian economy which rely on the backpacker workforce.

Crops won’t wait for markets to recover or a replacement workforce to skill-up.– Matt Heyes, Backpacker Job Board founder

“It’s encouraging that we are now seeing green shoots in the hospitality sector.

“Seek announced recently that they have seen a 138 per cent increase in hospitality job ads.

“We’re are also seeing a very similar situation here on the Backpacker Job Board.”

However, Mr Heyes said agriculture is a more complex situation.

“Crops won’t wait for markets to recover or a replacement workforce to skill-up.

“The seasonal nature of agriculture has meant that there’s been a strong demand for work in this area throughout.

“We’ve seen more competition for recruitment, with farmers spending more than usual on recruitment advertising,” Mr Heyes said.

Warren, NSW, farmer Malcolm McKay knows all too well how reliant the agricultural industry is on holiday workers.

COVID-19 has made the already difficult task of attracting workers to regional areas even harder.

“We were lucky to find a local person to help with sowing but we are very concerned about finding holiday workers to assist with grain harvest later in the year,” Mr McKay said.

“With good rain so far and crops looking extremely healthy, there is great potential for excellent yields.”

The possibility of good yields means that securing an adequate number of experienced workers, with the required skills, is vital.

“We usually source seasonal workers from overseas for harvest – we are worried about finding workers due to COVID-19,” Mr McKay said.

“Usually, there are plenty of backpackers looking to get their visa extended and this year we expect it hard to find workers.

“If yields are high, more workers are required.

“Trying to find workers with farm experience will be extremely difficult and we believe it will be almost impossible to find backpackers that know how to use the machinery and technology involved.

“Almost all farms in our area employ at least one to two backpackers for harvest.

“We are looking at employing three so far if we have good yields.”

Source: farmonline

Sourced by Mike Barrow

Migrant workers call for coronavirus support amid fears of ‘crisis situation’

They pay tax and help prop up the economy, but many of the 2 million international students and migrant workers in Australia are now without financial support, and facing a dire situation.

Because of coronavirus many have no way to earn an income to pay rent, buy food or support their families, and they are often ineligible for the Government’s JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments.

Anna Boucher, global migration expert and associate professor at Sydney University, tells ABC RN’s Life Matters that people on temporary visas make up “about 10 to 12 per cent of the workforce”.

The Government has advised them to return home, arguing we’ve got enough to worry about with our own citizens, but experts say we need to support migrant workers both for moral and economic reasons.

So who deserves what support? And how does Australia measure its ethical obligation to these workers?

‘So much more in tune’ with Australia

Temporary visa holders represent many different kinds of migrants with varying working permissions. Some see the process as a pathway to permanent residency in Australia.

Camille was born in France and came to Australia in 2009 to study her master’s. She is a university lecturer and tutor, moving from casual contract to casual contract.

A smiling woman stands on a deck in front of a lush, green garden
For Camille, going home to France isn’t an option, personally or professionally.

“I moved here when I was 21. And I’m going to be 33. Most of my adult life has been in Australia,” she says.

“My professional life, my personal life, I’m so much more in tune with what’s happening in Australia.”

Eva Su is on a working holiday visa from Taiwan. She lost her hospitality job after coronavirus forced restaurants and cafes to close and has been relying on help and food from the local community.

A woman in a red jumper stands in front of a natural vista featuring a river and mountains.
Eva had been employed in hospitality on a working holiday visa until coronavirus restrictions took place.

“I have been contacting different charities, and I’m glad that one of the charities called St Vincent de Paul. Once I contacted them they showed up in front of my door the next day,” Eva says.

“I was quite surprised. They offered me some vouchers to Woolworths and were really kind.”

She says many temporary visa holders are trying to get out to “explore the world”, and that the Government’s response to people in her situation could discourage young people like her from taking this chance in the future.

People facing ‘a crisis situation’

Dr Boucher says because of this attitude, Australia’s reputation as a study destination could be in danger.

“There is a risk that we will be seen as a country that is not ideal,” she explains.

“We know from a recent study that Canada is now a more popular destination for international students. That may in part reflect a perceived greater humanitarian outlook towards temporary migrants in that country.”

Camille says Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s message to “go home” was an unreasonable request that made her feel like “a bit of a second class citizen”.

“I think I could take a flight back home. But that would mean being separated from my partner, [and] I don’t have any work prospects there,” she explains.

“In France my parents would be happy to see me, but that’s about it.”

Although as an academic, her hours are uncertain into the future, Camille is confident her work ethic and connections will hold her in good stead in Australia.

Who deserves what?

So far, temporary visa holders have been excluded from accessing the same level of support as Australian students and workers. But if temporary workers are employees who pay tax, should they be entitled to help from the Government?

While it’s fair to recognise that citizens’ rights come first, that doesn’t have to be the Government’s only responsibility, says Joo-Cheong Tham, deputy chair of the Migrant Worker Centre in Melbourne and professor at the Melbourne University Law School.

Professor Joo-Cheong Tham says Australia should help both citizens and migrant workers. Professor Tham says this level of help should be “a floor, rather than a ceiling”.

“Our moral principles are not just restricted to citizens,” he says.

“We have temporary visa holders, some of whom would have lived here for a significant period of time, who have contributed to our society … they should be accorded the same rights and entitlements as other members of Australian society.

“This week the New South Wales state government joined Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT in announcing relief packages for temporary visa holders.

After federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg revised the JobKeeper cost down from $130 billion to $70 billion, he made it clear that the Government didn’t plan on making major changes to who was included under the scheme.

Professor Tham says it’s not enough for various states and territories to manage migrants’ welfare on their own.

“We have a crisis that’s so broad and deep that really it’s only the Commonwealth Government that has adequate resources to actually effectively address the dire situation that many temporary visa holders are in,” he says.

And when it comes to framing the discussion around help for temporary visa holders, Professor Tham says politicians from both sides using the rhetoric of “putting Australians first” is “terribly unhelpful”.

“It casts these two groups [Australian citizens and migrants] as hostile groups. I think it is wrong to treat temporary visa holders, or any human being for that matter, as simply a means to a policy goal,” he explains.

“We need to have … principles that recognise the status of these temporary visa holders as human beings, as workers, and importantly as members of the community.”

While Camille recognises that Government has a limit on how much money it can spend to support people during the crisis, even a token amount — “something just as small as $1,000” — wouldn’t go astray.

In fact, she says it would be like the Government sending a message about how it values their work: “We were there for you when you came into the country helping your industry. Whenever there’s a problem, we’re there as well.”

Source: ABC

Sourced by Mike Barrow

COVID-19 pandemic leads to 50,000 fewer backpackers in Australia, prompting parliamentary inquiry

Backpackers will be the focus of a new federal parliamentary inquiry designed to help tourism, health and farm sectors recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Key points:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has meant there are 50,000 fewer working backpackers in Australia
  • A parliamentary inquiry will look at how to help the tourism, health and farming sectors recover economically
  • The inquiry will also look at the possibility of out-of-work Australians taking up jobs typically filled by backpackers

With unemployment in Australia expected to reach 10 per cent, the inquiry will look at the possibility of out-of-work Australians taking up jobs typically filled by working holiday-markers. 

New South Wales Liberal MP Julian Leeser, who will chair the inquiry, said there were about 50,000 fewer backpackers in Australia because of the pandemic.

“Once borders reopen they will be key to filling some roles where Australian workers are usually not available, particularly in regional areas,” Mr Leeser said.

He said the inquiry would also look “to what extent, with the prospect of so many unemployed Australians around, can those unemployed Australians fill the gap that would otherwise be filled by working holiday-makers”. 

Regional migration inquiry suspended

A separate parliamentary inquiry into migration in regional Australia, by the committee chaired by Mr Leeser, recently reported back without any recommendations, despite receiving more than 130 submissions and holding 11 public hearings.

“We suspended that inquiry because of the COVID-19 situation changing, and the fact we cut the migration program substantially and the situation in regional Australia had changed,” Mr Leeser said.

“We didn’t come up with recommendations because, truth be told, we hadn’t seen enough and had the chance to properly debate and test some of the assumptions.

“This is why we’ve been given this new inquiry … some of these issues were raised in the previous inquiry, but it is particularly important to people in rural and regional Australia who rely on the working holiday-maker workforce to help them keep their businesses running,” he said. 

Mr Leeser said he did not expect the inquiry would consider an agriculture-specific visa, something farm groups and some senior Nationals had previously championed.

‘Yet another inquiry’, says farmers federation

Victorian Farmers Federation spokeswoman Emma Germano said there was no point having another inquiry if governments continued to ignore the recommendations.

“I’d love to know why they are embarking on yet another inquiry,” Ms Germano said. 

“We hope it leads to meaningful recommendations that are actually adopted by the Government — unlike many of the inquiries into the ag workforce that have gone before.”

Ms Germano said her industry had become overly reliant on backpacker labour because there was a lack of suitable options to assist the sector. 

“Industry has long made recommendations to improve the worker holiday program to make it fit for purpose, and put protections in place for the worker and the employer,” she said. 

Working holiday-makers contribute around $3 billion to the Australian economy each year.

The inquiry into the working holiday-maker program, by the Joint Standing Committee on Migration, will receive submissions until July 24.

Source: ABC News

Sourced by Mike Barrow