Pacific worker numbers boom
SEASONAL workers are coming from the Pacific Islands to Australia in droves, with a 30 per cent jump in the past year, new figures show.
The increasing popularity of the program, which grants Pacific Islanders a special agriculture work visa, has prompted calls for resources to stamp out potential exploitation.
Last week a parliamentary enquiry into modern slavery heard claims of exploitation by a group of Tongan workers under the program.
Federal Department of Employment figures show numbers in the program jumped to 6166 in 2016-2017 – up from 4772 in 2015-2016 and 3177 in 2014-2015.
The figures show the number of companies involved, either farms hiring directly or labour-hire firms, increased to 82 in 2016-2017, compared with 69 the previous year.
The National Farmers Federation said more farmers were accessing the program with costs and paperwork reduced.