Proposed changes to working holiday
THE Australian Tourism Export Council has proposed changes to working holiday visa guidelines which could bring much-needed labour supply to areas such as the Douglas region where the pressure to attract workers to tourism businesses is threatening their viability.
ATEC is urging the Federal Government to look at adjustments to the eligibility settings for the WHV that would mean increasing the qualifying age range from 18-30, to 18 - 35, and allowing multiple visa applications.
This alone could possibly mark an 11 per cent return in working holidaymakers equating to $275 million over 10 years, with inclusion of all ATEC proposals leading to an additional $700 million over a 10-year period.
Under current rules, working holidaymakers are able to extend their visas by 12 months if they spend 88 days in a regional industry - such as agriculture, mining, construction or fishing.
ATEC proposals seek to include tourism and hospitality as eligibility for a second WHV.
“The backpacker and youth market is valuable in terms of the amount of money these visitors spend in-country as well as from a labour and skills perspective.” ATEC managing director Felicia Mariani said.
Research by ATEC and the Australian Immigration department has found working holiday backpackers spend more, travel further and stay longer than other travellers, signifying a 60 per cent higher than spend than the average international visitor.
The most significant change proposed to current WHV regulations is doubling the period for which a working holidaymaker can stay with one employer, from six months to 12 months.
Bucci restaurant apprentice chef Hardy Ross said the proposed changes benefit everyone.
“My girlfriend Marie has had to keep changing jobs every six months, this means it can be difficult to find work if you want to stay in the area, especially in the quiet season,” he said.
“It can also mean that employers are then stuck without staff.
“The visa process is really lengthy and really expensive.
“It would also be better if the visa application fees were reduced to make it more affordable for working holiday backpackers.”
Court House Hotel supervisor Dale Sparrey agreed that if employment time allowance restrictions were extended it would encourage young people to stay longer in the local area.
“The only way around the six months restriction is sponsorship, but it is not always an option for employers, as it’s too big a commitment for most businesses,”dale said.
“If staff can stay longer than six months in one job it would be beneficial to both employers and employees - it would definitely encourage people to stay longer and fill important jobs.”