Category Archives: WHV

Backpackers, bushfires and Blazeaid

Backpackers will be granted ­special visa benefits to help rebuild homes, fences and farms in bushfire-ravaged communities under an overhaul of the working holidaymaker program aimed at fast-tracking reconstruction and boosting tourism.

Working holidaymakers will be able to claim volunteering as “specific work” towards securing second and third-year visas in a bid to encourage backpackers to move into 45 declared disaster zones across seven states and territories.

With more than 209,000 working holiday visas lodged in 2018-19, the government has acted on the visa changes following recommendations from the National Bushfire Recovery Agency to help stimulate struggling regional economies impacted by fires.

The new visa policy will allow backpackers working in bushfire zones to remain with the same ­employer for one year, up from six months. The definition of ‘specific work’ has also been revised to ­ensure construction work in disaster areas is covered.

“This recovery will be driven ­locally, by local workers and communities. But this will be a massive recovery effort and we want businesses and charitable organisations to have as many boots on the ground as they need.”

BlazeAid president Kevin Butler, who has been pushing the government to change the visa rules, said he had been inundated with requests from backpackers to volunteer and support farmers. “We need young people with young muscles to do the hard yards. The bushfires hit hardest in some very rugged areas and these backpackers have the energy to do it,” he said.

“A lot of the backpackers are going up and down the coast and being turned away from jobs ­because of the drought and bushfires. This is an opportunity for them, and the farmers.

“We have 2500 farmers signed up to BlazeAid for the help these volunteers are providing. It’s just common sense and we should have done this a long time ago.

“It’s a great move by the Morrison government.”

Britain, France, Germany, South Korea and Taiwan feature prominently in the list of working holiday visas granted last year.

Bristol couple Grace Bishop and Finlay Roy, both 22, are on their first-year working holiday visa and want to volunteer in bushfire-hit regions. Ms Bishop, who has completed bushfire volunteer work, said they would take advantage of the new visa rules.

“We were a bit naive about bushfires when we started in Brisbane and we got caught up in the Tenterfield fires. We got caught again in NSW. So recently we ­volunteered in the Adelaide Hills,” she said.

“The people there were a bit surprised to see backpackers turn up and help, but I think they liked having outsiders. They could chat to us and rely on us, without any of the negativity there has been in some of the communities.

“We would definitely like to stay in Australia. And it would be amazing to go back and work on fence-building and things like that. These areas have been desolated and we want to help.”

In The Weekend Australian, bushfire recovery chief Andrew Colvin said critical infrastructure would need to be future-proofed against bushfire catastrophes following the destruction of power transmission lines, telecommunications and agricultural fences.

National Bushfire Recovery Agency data shows more than 2100 power poles in southeast NSW had been damaged or destroyed, as well as more than one million cubic tonnes of agricultural fencing lost across Australia.

Farming groups are concerned there are not enough fence posts produced in Australia each year to replace the 50 million destroyed.

German backpacker Lukas Weihrauch has moved to a Blaze­Aid camp in East Gippsland, where he is helping farmers ­rebuild fences and sheds.

“I saw a lot of the fires on TV and heard from people and thought: ‘This country has let me stay here, I want to contribute back’,” he said.

“Most of the time in Bruthen we are putting fences back up and helping farmers tie up their sheds. It’s very tough, very physical.”

Source. The Australian

Sourced by Mike Barrow

Governess jobs hard to fill, as outback parents fear their children not prepared enough for high school

A profession that laid the foundations for Australia’s first saint, Mary McKillop, is as important today as it was more than a century ago.

Key points:

  • Governesses are employed to help children, who attend School of the Air, with their schoolwork
  • Parents of remote children want a policy change so that people on 417 visas can stay longer or incentives for young graduates to go bush for a year
  • One governess, from New Zealand, says it’s one of the best things she’s ever done

Governesses continue to play an integral role in educating more than 3,200 Australian isolated children.

When people think of the role of a governess, they conjure up images of Mary Poppins, but the reality of the role is a very different one.

Millie Bell lives on Bono Station in Menindee, in far-west NSW. She attends Broken Hill School of the Air, but also relies on the support of a governess to assist with her schoolwork.

“We have school at home because we’re too far away to go to school with any other kids,” she said.

“We have a different governess every year. It’s really good because then we get to learn from different governesses.”

Girl in a striped top sits at a table

PHOTO: Millie Bell likes having different governesses each year. (ABC Mildura-Swan Hill: Jennifer Douglas)

Rebel Bell’s three children — Millie, Poppy, and Ollie — attend Broken Hill School of the Air. However between lessons the supervision of the children’s learning is the responsibility of the governess.

But finding a governess to spend a year on a remote outback station has become extremely difficult for many remote farming families who need a governess with teaching experience to educate their school-aged children.

“It’s integral that our kids have a quality education, so that they’re ready to take that next step to their higher education … so that they’re not disadvantaged due to our isolation,” Ms Bell said.

Child sitting at table with mum

PHOTO: Rebel and Ollie Bell in the classroom at Bono Station. (ABC Mildura-Swan Hill: Jennifer Douglas)

Policy change needed

Nerida Healy, former president of the Broken Hill Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association, said there needed to be a policy change to provide more qualified educators to fill governess positions.

“Attracting experienced educators or governesses to work on these remote properties is already challenging,” she said.

“But government regulations and visa restrictions that specifically exclude the care of children on remote properties means that qualified teachers can’t get a second-year visa working as a governess, but can if they work as an unqualified farmhand.”

These restrictions placed on 417 Visa holders and a lack of government incentives for teachers to come and work in the bush prompted Rebel Bell to write to Education Minister Dan Tehan.

“I wrote to the Minister … about maybe offering incentives to try and get some teachers or newly graduated teachers into our home school rooms,” she said.

“High government agency fees deducted from governesses’ wages leaves no incentive to attract someone with a teaching background to come out and educate our children.

“The wage that we can offer is not anywhere near as much as they’re going to get from our city counterparts.”

Ms Healy said governesses should be paid more because it’s a “really important job”.

“They’re educating our future and it would be so fantastic if we could come up with a system where we could offer incentives for teachers who want a change for a year or graduates to experience what it’s like in a remote school,” she said.

A woman stands in front of rural artwork

PHOTO: Nerida Healy from Naveen Station in NSW is worried children aren’t adequately prepared for high school. (ABC Mildura-Swan Hill: Jennifer Douglas)

Ideas to fill the gap

The Education Department has addressed the need for qualified in-home carers and educators for these isolated children by setting the minimum qualification of a Certificate III in early childhood education for all in-home educators by January 2021.

Rebel Bell said this didn’t go far enough.

“There should be qualifications in having someone in the home school room. I just don’t feel that the childcare qualification is suitable for students who are school aged … it’s more relevant to preschool-aged kids,” she said.

“Parents of school-aged isolated children want qualified teachers, so their children are prepared for higher education, where many of these children must face the daunting prospect of going to boarding school.

“Unfortunately, money also plays a big part in being able to secure someone competent in the school room,” Ms Bell said.

“With many farming families doing it tough, they can’t compete with farmers not in drought, who can pay better rates.”

Ms Bell said, in a competitive market, it depended on what each family could offer, and that left many families in a difficult position.

“I would love to see the government offering university leavers, studying teaching, offered governess positions teaching students doing distance education,” she said.

“There needs to be incentives to these people to come out to the far west. Maybe they could have a merit selection when applying for their next job.”

Child sitting at computer

PHOTO: Governess Emily Smith has enjoyed her time working with Poppy (pictured), Millie and Ollie Bell at Bono Station, and recommends to other young people to “give it a go”. (ABC Mildura-Swan Hill: Jennifer Douglas)

Emily Smith is governess to the three Bell children in remote Menindee, NSW, having taken a gap year from study and travelling from her home in New Zealand to spend a year in the bush.

“I’ve come over here knowing it would be a challenge for me and I’ve really enjoyed it and embraced this lifestyle, which has been awesome,” Ms Smith said.

“As a 23-year-old, I think it’s a pretty important impact I’ve had on these children’s lives and for that I’m really proud.

“If you’re thinking about becoming a governess, I definitely recommend giving it a go.

“It’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I will be forever grateful for having had this job.”

Source: ABC

Sourced by Mike Barrow

Lure of cities too strong for regional Australia to keep migrants, despite government efforts

The Government will come face-to-face with history when it launches its new regional migration visas in November.

Key points:

  • ANU researchers find newer migrant groups are even more likely to abandon regions
  • Regional visas are set to be launched next month to draw migrants away from cities
  • Proposed laws would give temporary regional migrants the same access to welfare as permanent migrants, but they would still need to work in order to stay permanently

Over four decades, country towns have mostly failed to retain migrants, according to the most comprehensive snapshot of Australian migration ever collated.

And this trend of migrants moving to the cities appears to be increasing, despite repeated government efforts to make life in the regions more appealing.

Professor James Raymer, who led a team of Australian National University (ANU) researchers to collect and refine almost 40 years of data, said migrants in a regional or remote area have a “very low chance” of staying in that area, and this pattern has been “very consistent over time”.

“Most will leave within a five-year period, over half, if not 70 per cent, will leave, and if they’re going to stay in Australia they’re going to go to one of the big cities, probably Sydney or Melbourne,” he said.

“What we actually see in the data, the chances of them leaving remote and regional areas has been increasing for a lot of the newer migrant groups.”

Same access to services

Immigration Minister David Coleman is confident the new visas will attract migrants to regional communities and keep them there.

“We want skilled migrants to settle in regional areas long-term and want to ensure they are not disadvantaged compared to permanent migrants in our major cities,” he said.

The visas require migrants to work in regions on temporary visas for three years before they are eligible for permanent residency.

Proposed laws will give these temporary visa holders the same access to welfare and government services as permanent visa holders.

“This Government will continue to back those migrants who commit to living and working in regional areas, to support local economies and contribute to regional communities,” Mr Coleman said.

Details of the visas are still emerging, as the Department of Home Affairs holds briefings with migration agents and lawyers around the country.

However, the Migration Institute of Australia has criticised the decision to require regional-based migrants to earn $53,900 a year in order to qualify for permanent residency.

“While the Government is telling regional Australia it is listening to concerns about skills shortages, they are going to make it as hard as possible to fill them,” institute president John Hourigan said.

The requirement to earn this level of income for three years is not reasonable given the already suppressed nature of rural economies struggling with drought and diminishing investment.

New glimpse of internal migration

The ANU data is the most comprehensive picture of regional migration ever collected in Australia.

Across 47 regions and 19 nationality groups, the project tracks who has moved where every year back to 1981.

It finds that regions in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory have the lowest rates of retention of migrants.

Professor Raymer said his study also found that, for the most part, people were becoming increasingly settled.

“The likelihood of us moving in Australia has been decreasing, so we’re less likely to make moves across Australia these days as we were in the 1980s.”

ED: Surely this is why the only visa that can work is the one given to backpackers going from one end of the country to the other.

Comments please……

Source: ABC

Sourced by Mike Barrow

Federal Government should repeal its failed Backpacker Tax

AUSVEG, Australia’s peak industry body for the vegetable industry, has called on the Federal Government to repeal the controversial Backpacker Tax in full, following the Federal Court’s decision that it cannot be applied to citizens of eight countries with whom Australia has an international treaty obligation not to tax citizens of these countries at rates higher than those paid by Australians.

AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside said the Backpacker Tax was flawed from the beginning and should be repealed in full to avoid any confusion among backpackers and employers.

“It is disappointing that the decision to implement the Backpacker Tax, which industry campaigned hard against for a long period of time, highlighting the issues it would cause, actually made it this far and had to be challenged in the Federal Court,” Mr Whiteside said.

“You would think that Government would have done its proper due diligence before implementing such a divisive tax in the first place. The only sensible thing to do now is to repeal the entire tax.”

The decision applies to Working Holiday Makers from the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Finland, Chile, Japan, Norway, and Turkey who are Australian residents for taxation purposes due to an international treaty signed between the countries.

At the time, industry argued that introducing a Backpacker Tax would deter Working Holiday Makers from coming to the country and have a severe impact on the horticulture industry. The tax was originally set to be at 32.5 per cent but settled at 15 per cent when it was implemented in 2016.

The number of backpackers coming to Australia has dropped since 2012-13 when more than 258,000 travellers came down under on 417 and 462 visas. Now that figure is down to just over 209,000.

“The horticulture industry has a significant labour shortage and has been working closely with the Government to amend visa rules to increase access to foreign workers. This shortage has been exacerbated by the confusion surrounding the Backpacker Tax,” Mr Whiteside said.

“Repealing the tax in full might at least go some way in bringing some confidence back to backpackers who wish to travel to Australia and a basic incentive that if they come here they are free to experience what Australia has to offer without the burden of being taxed.

“Government must have a common-sense approach to this issue and amend what was an incredibly bad policy from the beginning.”

Source: Mirage News

Sourced by Mike Barrow

House crammed with 30 workers amid crackdown on labour hire abuses

More than 30 workers have been found crammed into a three-bedroom house, each paying $100 a week, in a shocking abuse of workers in Victoria‘s labour hire businesses.

In other cases, workers were found to be sleeping on thin mattresses in garages, without access to bathrooms or kitchens, while other employers were caught charging workers to watch television or for the use of work tools and underpaying workers thousands of dollars.

The shocking abuse of workers has been revealed amid the launch of a new licensing regime for the industry.

Hundreds of labour hire operators have walked away from the business, rather than comply with the new licensing system that is designed to drive out of the business any dodgy operators who exploit, abuse or mistreat workers, the state government revealed on Wednesday.

Only labour hire providers who have been granted a licence or who have made an application are now allowed to operate in Victoria, with more than 4300 companies and individuals applying for official accreditation.

Anyone caught hiring out workers without a licence, or without an application working through the system, will now be subject to prosecution and fines worth $500,000.

But Labour Hire licence commissioner Steve Darvegal said last week that hundreds more had abandoned the process and would walk away from the business, unable or unwilling to prove their compliance with workplace, immigration and other laws and regulations.

State Treasurer and Workplace Relations Minister Tim Pallas said he was confident the new licensing system would stop dodgy operators exploiting workers, flouting the law, and undercutting law-abiding rivals.

“The days of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ when it comes to labour hire, are over,” the minister said.

“We need people to understand that a complete failure to comply with these rules will ultimately mean that you’re subject to fines in excess of half-a-million dollars for each and every offence.”

ED: Are you aware of any other similar incidents? Let us know or comment here

Source: Nine MSN

Sourced by Mike Barrow