Camp plan to ease har­vest squeeze

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS -

A PI­LOT project to be rolled out at the Grove Re­search Sta­tion could help ad­dress sea­sonal worker ac­com­mo­da­tion for the state’s hor­ti­cul­tural in­dus­try.

The State Govern­ment is work­ing with the Huon Val­ley Coun­cil and pri­vate op­er­a­tor Oak Pos­si­bil­ity to get the project started.

A de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion has been lodged with the coun­cil and if ap­proved, the project will pro­vide ad­di­tional camp­ing spaces for sea­sonal work­ers in the Huon Val­ley dur­ing peak har­vest sea­son from De­cem­ber to Fe­bru­ary.

The site is lo­cated near two ma­jor pack­ing sheds and in the heart of the Val­ley’s fruit­grow­ing re­gion.

Fruit Grow­ers Tas­ma­nia chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Stu­art Burgess said if suc­cess­ful the govern­ment and pri­vate part­ner­ship ap­proach could be used across the state.

“It’s not a one size fits all and I think that’s the key to it.

“There are a num­ber of ways grow­ers around the state have gone about find­ing suit­able ac­com­mo­da­tion for their work­ers and some of those in­clude camp­ing sites with some fa­cil­i­ties.”

The Govern­ment has been work­ing with Oak Pos­si­bil­ity, which leases the site from the Govern­ment, the coun­cil and fruit grow­ers.

Sea­sonal work­ers play a big role dur­ing peak fruit har­vest sea­son, with ap­prox­i­mately 3500 to 4000 sea­sonal and itin­er­ant work­ers re­quired in the state’s South alone.

Mr Burgess said with the state's berry in­dus­try ex­pand­ing find­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion for work­ers was an on­go­ing chal­lenge.

Some berry op­er­a­tions pro­vide on-site ac­com­mo­da­tion, while oth­ers use fa­cil­i­ties nearby or back­packer ac­com­mo­da­tion. Mr Burgess said re­pur­pos­ing unused build­ings in some ar­eas may also be an­other op­tion.

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