26 September 2023

Visa change backs bushfire backpackers

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Foreign backpackers are to be able to help bushfire-affected communities get back on their feet now following new working holiday visa rules.

Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Minister Alan Tudge said a six-month extension for working holiday visas would be of help to farmers and regional businesses.

“These hard-working 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,” Mr Tudge said

“It means working holiday makers can help rebuild homes, fences and farms, they can get onto properties and help with demolition, land clearing, and repairing dams, roads and railways.”

He said the changes would mean the time a working holiday maker (WHM) could work for the same employer would extend from six months to 12 months for those assisting with bushfire recovery efforts.

“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,” Mr Tudge said.

He said the definition of “specified work” would be revised for the Work and Holiday Maker (subclass 462) Visa, to ensure construction work in a disaster-declared area would be captured.

“Paid and volunteer disaster recovery work in declared areas impacted in the recent bushfires will count towards the “specified work” needed to apply for a second or third year 417 or 462 visa,” the Acting Minister said.

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