Following the bushfires that ravaged Australia in 2019–2020, the Australian government implemented temporary changes to the current laws in order to allow backpackers to help rebuild fire-damaged communities and renew their Working Holiday Visa. As of 2022, flood recovery work in declared flood recovery areas is also eligible for WHV renewal. In addition, there have been changes to eligible types of construction work and the qualifying regions. You will find everything you need to know in this article.
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Changes to the renewal of the WHV
The federal government announced temporary changes to Working Holiday Visas on February 17, 2020, to encourage backpackers to help rebuild communities ravaged by bush fires. Bushfire recovery work in specified fire-affected areas is still eligible for Working Holiday Visa renewal.
Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said at back in 2020 that the measures would be a boost for communities affected by the fires. “Each additional person we can bring into these communities is one more visitor to help protect local jobs and keep local businesses alive,” he said.
As of January 2022, flood recovery work carried out in specified flood-affected areas is eligible for Working Holiday Visa renewal.
Volunteer work in fire and flood affected areas is also eligible.
To renew your Working Holiday Visa for a second year, you must carry out 88 days or 3 months of specified work. To renew your Working Holiday Visa for a third year, you must carry out 6 months of specified work.
Before January 2022, anyone on a Working Holiday Visa was not allowed to work for any one employer for more than 6 months. This rule has been relaxed until June 30, 2023. This change allows current Working Holiday Makers to work with any one employer for the duration of their visa without requesting permission, and any work that is done before 1 July 2023 will not be counted towards the 6-month limitation period.
Changes for construction jobs
Added eligible jobs
Construction work in disaster areas, including clearing land, rebuilding fences and houses and demolishing, repairing dams, roads and railways now falls under the government definition of jobs eligible for a renewal of your WHV. The list of added jobs can be found on the Immigration website.
“These hardworking Australians have been hit by the recent bushfires, but from today they can employ backpackers for six months longer, helping them at a critical time in the recovery effort.”Immigration Minister Alan Tudge
Changes to volunteer work
Volunteer work helping to rebuild properties and businesses ravaged by fire or flood is eligible for the renewal of Working Holiday Visas.
Many organisations are looking for volunteers. This would motivate young people to get involved while having the opportunity to renew their Working Holiday Visa. BlazeAid is one of them if you are keen to volunteer. BlazeAid volunteers receive four meals a day and a place to sleep when they volunteer through this association.
Eligible postcodes and jobs
Eligible postcodes for bushfire work
For the purpose of a second or third Working Holiday visa (417 & 462) in bushfire affected areas, regional Australia includes the following postcodes:
For the purpose of a second or third Working Holiday visa (417 & 462) in flood affected areas, regional Australia includes the following postcodes:
Approved specified work
Specified work in assisting bush recovery efforts or flood recovery work is any type of work described in the list below:
- Construction, farming, or any other work in association with recovery or restitution of land, property, farm animals or wildlife
- Providing support services or assistance to people living, working or volunteering in the affected areas
Examples of construction work that qualify as specified work include:
- demolition of buildings, trench digging, land clearing and earth moving
- residential and non-residential construction or renovation/repair, including of roads, footpaths, bridges, parking lots, fencing, railways, dams, irrigation systems, sewage and storm water drainage systems