Farm Work in Australia
When you come to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa you have several options for work:
If you want to extend your stay with a 2nd year WH Visa you’ll have to do 88 days of qualifying Farm Work or similar accredited work
If you’re not staying on, you can take whatever work you want
Or you can choose not to work at all, but travel for up to 12 months, where the standard Visitors Visa only allows for 3 months.
Farm Work covers a waste diversity of jobs, but amongst the most popular jobs are the fruit/vegetable picking, packing and planting jobs.
These jobs are seasonal and weather dependent, so in order for you to fulfil your 88 days farm work commitment you should plan for your work as early in your travels as possible. If you’re not working enough weekly hours, earning the industry standard wage or working for an employer who can sign off your work as qualifying farm work, you won’t meet the requirements for your 2nd year WH Visa.
To many, Farm Work sounds exotic and easily done, but the truth is that it’s often hard work and definitely not for everyone. It’s seasonal and your employer depends on your ability to deliver to your promise of being ‘An honest, hard working person who’s not afraid of getting his/hers hands dirty’. I think this phrase is one of the most commonly copied phrases, and is not well thought of before posted in an application.
Before you go to Australia on your WH you should investigate thoroughly the type of qualifying jobs available at the different times of year. There’s been made several Harvest Calendars available online, so it shouldn’t come as surprise to you where jobs are at what time of year.
There are also several job descriptions available, or information/comments from people who’s been doing similar jobs, to find out whether a particular job is suitable for you or not. Know your own limitations and only apply for jobs within your limits. There’s no reason to waste your own, an employer or another backpackers time by applying to jobs that will break you physically within the first week, and quite often within the first day. We’re not all build for hard labour or physically challenging jobs.
Another thing is accommodation. Often accommodation is included as part of the job, but don’t expect Hilton style provided. It’s a benefit for both the employers and the employees, but often knocked on by backpackers in various forums. In theory the standard has to do with the people living there rather than the place itself. If you’re not satisfied with the conditions find somewhere else to stay/work. If the place is really disgusting, the rumour will spread and people will avoid the place.
Every year more than 160.000 young people travel to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa hoping/expecting to do their 88 days of qualifying Farm Work, and the reason why this program has been made available is because there’s a constant need for Labour in the agricultural Industry. Standards been set for Taxes, wages and weekly hours to avoid exploitation in this industry. Sadly, since there’s a great focus on the backpacker labour, there’s still businesses taking advantage of the backpackers coming to work in Australia. Thankfully the industry in general benefits from this arrangement and earns a good reputation among the workers. Backpackers are a billion Dollar industry, but also contributes to the agricultural industry in Australia./