Following the tragic events that recently struck the country, the Australian government has implemented temporary changes to the current laws in order to allow backpackers to help rebuild fire-ravaged communities and renew their Working Holiday Visa. In fact, the new visa policy will allow people on a Working Holiday Visa to work for the same employer longer. In addition, construction work in disaster affected areas will be added to the government’s list of specified work. Everything you need to know, you will find in this article.
Temporary Changes to the renewal of the WHV
The federal government has announced temporary changes to working holiday visas. This is to encourage backpackers to help rebuild communities ravaged by the fire while being able to renew their working holiday visas.
Indeed, currently, to be eligible for a second-year visa, backpackers must complete 88 days of work in designated areas of the country. Likewise, for a third year, they must prove an additional six months of regional work.
As part of these changes, Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said employers will be able to hire WHV workers for up to a year in the fire-affected areas. The changes will allow young people on a WHV in disaster areas to stay with the same employer for one year instead of six months currently. The list of eligible construction tasks was also extended.
Finally, volunteer work in disaster affected areas will also count for the days required to renew your WHV. It will count for a second and third year).
Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said these measures would be a boost for communities affected by the fires. “Each additional person we can integrate into these communities is an additional visitor to help protect local jobs and keep local businesses alive,” he said.
Changes for construction jobs
The new eligible tasks
Construction work in disaster areas, including clearing land, rebuilding fences and houses and demolishing, repairing dams, roads and railways will now fall under the government definition of jobs eligible for a renewal of your WHV.
The list of added tasks can be found on the immigration website.
Stay with the same employer for a year
These changes will allow people working on a Working Holiday Visa (417 and 462) in disaster areas to stay with the same employer for one year instead of six months. The goal here is to support local farmers and businesses while allowing young people to renew their visas. You won’t have to request permission to work more than 6 months with the same employer.
“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,”Said the Immigration Minister, Alan Tudge.
Changes to volunteer work
Volunteer work helping to rebuild properties and businesses ravaged by fire will also be considered for the renewal of Working Holiday Visas.
Tudge said that 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 Association President Kevin Butler told ABC24 that he was delighted with this “win-win” arrangement for everyone.
The president of BlazeAid believes the changes will help accommodate an additional stream of young volunteers they need.
“We are going to have many, many young people around the world who are committed to helping Australia”Said Mr. Butler, the president of the organization
He also said that paid work on farms is currently limited. However many volunteers are needed to rebuild rural fences.
BlazeAid volunteers receive four meals a day and a place to sleep when they volunteer through this association.
Eligible postcodes and tasks
On 6 march 2020 the Australian government has given more information about the eligible postcodes and eligible jobs in the Bushfire affected areas. Here is the list provided :
For the purpose of a second or third Working Holiday visa (417 & 462) in bushfire affected areas, regional Australia includes the following postcodes:
Approved specified work
Specified work in assisting bush recovery efforts or disaster 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; and
- 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.
Article updated on 09/03/20 – Initially published on 17/02/20