With growers unable to fill the vacant positions left by foreign workers on international working holiday visas, the Victorian government has launched a new scheme to lure in local pickers.
With most of the work located in Victoria’s Shepparton and Goulburn Valley regions, potential workers are invited to apply for Government Relocation Assistance, which is worth up to $6000 for Australian job seekers and up to $2000 for international job seekers. Those who relocate to take up the short-term agricultural positions – for a minimum of six weeks – are eligible.
Fruit Growers Victoria is urging people to get a fruit harvesting job this summer amid fears crops may go to waste if not enough workers come forward.
The average, competent picker will earn at least 15 per cent more on a piecework rate – the method which is most common within the industry – than on the hourly award rate. An average, competent worker could expect to pick four to five bins’ worth of fruit over the course of an eight-hour day.
By those calculations, a worker could make a minimum of $200 a day, or $6000 over a six-week stint.