Council welcomes seasonal workers

Article image - Council welcomes seasonal workers
Seventy-seven seasonal workers from Vanuatu and Timor Leste are helping local farmers harvest their asparagus in Cardinia Shire.

Melbourne business The Connect Group has employed and sponsored the workers as part of the Federal Government’s Seasonal Worker program, which is delivered by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

With not enough Australian jobseekers available at this time of year to meet seasonal demand, the program allows agricultural employers in Cardinia Shire to get the workers they need to harvest the Shire’s plentiful asparagus crops.

Participants are working on local farms in Koo Wee Rup and Catani including Vizzarri Farms, Cafresco Organics, Dalmore Golden Mile and Deep Creek Organics. They will stay until around January, depending on crop yields.

It is the third year that Cardinia Shire has hosted Seasonal Worker program participants.

Mayor Brett Owen said the fantastic initiative had benefits for everyone involved.

“It boosts the productivity of our local asparagus producers and helps the home economies of the workers. They receive a good income and great life and employment experience.

“They also give back to our local economy, which is great for Cardinia Shire businesses.

“And as a Shire which embraces cultural diversity, it’s wonderful for us to host the participants and learn more about their lives and cultures.

“The fact that 37 participants have returned to Cardinia Shire for the second or third time as part of the program shows how hospitable our residents are, and how successful the initiative is for all parties.”

The Connect Group’s Managing Director Michael Fryszer said participants were staying in accommodation on the farms at which they
are working.

“It’s a win-win arrangement for everyone involved. It’s a great economic exchange, and a really innovative and mutually beneficial way to give foreign aid.”
Mr Fryszer said the jobs were advertised in Australia first before the workers were recruited from Pacific Island countries and Timor Leste.

“Insufficient applications are received locally to fill demand, given the work is so labour-intensive and harvesting often takes place at night.

“So there’s absolutely no issue of jobs being taken away from local jobseekers.”

For more information on the Federal Government’s Seasonal Worker program visit www.deewr.gov.au/seasonal-worker-program