International fruit pickers return to work in Victoria

After a year of suffering through the pandemic, Victorian farmers are now able to welcome back overseas workers.

More than 200 Pacific employees have already arrived at the farms, and today kicked off their first day on the job picking apples in the Yarra Valley.

The workers were among the first Pacific Islanders to fly in last month and undertake 14 days of quarantine in Tasmania before arriving in Victoria at the weekend.

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© Getty images
Pacific Island workers are returning to fruit picking jobs across Victoria.

Additional workers will land in the state over the coming weeks as part of a planned, rolling flight schedule that will see up to 1500 workers take part in Victoria’s agricultural workforce.


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They will bolster seasonal work across the state, including the Yarra Valley, Gippsland and Sunraysia regions.

The first cohort of workers will today start their roles at Vernview Orchards at Launching Place – an apple orchard run by third and sixth-generation farmers Sue and David Finger.

Pacific workers have been part of the team at Vernview Orchards for more than eight years.

The Victorian government has co-contributed $7.8 million to quarantine costs for Pacific Island workers, with industry contributing $2000 per worker.

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Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas announced a $150,000 grant to the Approved Employers of Australia (AEA), which connects permitted employers to the Pacific Mobility Schemes.

The grant is part of the government’s $1 million Seasonal Workforce Industry Support Program, which gives organisations dedicated resources to support local worker recruitment and retention in priority harvest regions.

The coronavirus pandemic had a devastating affect on farmers, with scores of crops and produce going to waste as trade shut down and overseas workers were unable to travel for regional employment.

Source: Thanks