Australian officials have stated that the government will allow backpackers and others staying in the country under a working holiday visa program to extend their visas if they assist with rebuilding and recovery efforts following the summer's devastating bushfires.
Those seeking the extensions need to be involved in volunteer or paid construction work in bushfire-hit communities, including land clearing and the rebuilding of homes and fences, according to acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge.
Under the current working holiday arrangements, those involved in the program must undertake such specified work as fruit picking, mining and construction in a regional area to be eligible for second- or third-year working holiday visas.
The latest, temporary changes to the visa program mean that "working holiday makers can help rebuild homes, fences and farms," Tudge said in a statement. "They can get onto properties and help with demolition, land clearing, and repairing dams, roads and railways."
According to an article on mainichi.jp, the changes will also allow working holiday visa holders in bushfire-affected areas to stay with the same employer for up to one year. Previously visa-holders could only stay with the same employer for six months.