Addressing regional worker shortages

Page last updated: Tuesday, 3 November 2020 - 1:56pm

Strict border controls remain in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 into Western Australia (WA). The enforcement and management of these restrictions are the responsibility of the WA Police Force (WAPOL).

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) is working hard to assist WA primary industry businesses to secure essential workers to fill labour shortages for time-critical jobs such as this season’s harvest.

Current Initiatives

The WA Government’s employment priority remains focused on securing employment for WA residents first. However, it is acknowledged that even with an increased intake of local workers, the likelihood of worker shortages being experienced across primary industry remains high.  

To help navigate the immediate shortfall, the WA Government has created a team dedicated to support WA primary industries specifically on workforce matters during these challenging times.

Led by DPIRD’s Industry Capacity and Workforce Manager, Jackie Jarvis, the role of this team is to:

  • provide advice and assistance to primary industry G2G PASS applicants;
  • review primary industries applications and provide industry based advice to WAPOL assessment officers;
  • administer the Primary Industries Workers Regional Travel and Accommodation Support Scheme;
  • collaborate with DPC and Tourism WA on an updated Work and Wander out Yonder (WWoY) Campaign;
  • work with industry on the potential progression of a pilot restart of the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS);
  • work collaboratively with industries on innovative approaches to build a more resilient local workforce into the future.

The workforce development response team can be contacted via email at

Please note: while DPIRD is assisting WAPOL with part of the G2G PASS application assessment process, the enforcement and management of these restrictions are the responsibility of WAPOL. As such, the final decision to approve entry into WA remains with WAPOL.

For the latest health and travel advice, please visit

Further information on the current initiatives is below.

$3M Regional Travel and Accommodation Scheme

The WA Government has committed $3 million to the ‘Primary Industries Workers Regional Travel and Accommodation Support Scheme’. This has been established to provide financial support for WA job seekers who relocate more than 100km to undertake eligible primary industries work. DPIRD is responsible for administering the scheme.

Implemented in September, the scheme aims to attract people to work in the regions to help satisfy demand for short-term agricultural, fisheries or food processing jobs, created by the loss of the backpacker's workforce due to the impact of COVID-19 and the State’s low regional population.

The State Government is providing up to $3,360 for accommodation costs rebates, and up to $500 in travel support.  Under the scheme, agricultural workers who move more than 100kms to work in the regions will be able to claim a $40 per night accommodation rebate for up to 12 weeks.

In order to qualify for the rebate, employers must confirm the employees’ have worked full time, for a minimum of two weeks.

For more information or to apply for the scheme please visit the Primary Industries Workers Regional Travel and Accommodation Support Scheme page on  DPIRD’s website.

The Work and Wander out Yonder campaign

The Work and Wander out Yonder campaign (the campaign) commenced in August 2020 to encourage WA locals to consider seasonal regional work.

The campaign has drawn strong interest from local jobseekers with over 50,000 visitors to the site, and is expected to channel students, school leavers and other Western Australians into agricultural work.

As part of the campaign, regional employers in WA are encouraged to register their details and available positions through various recruitment sites including Studium, Seek and Harvest Trail.

Using these recruitment sites will enable targeted recruitment on a region by region basis. These are available at no cost to the employers, labour hire businesses and regional recruiter companies until December 2020.

The campaign, led by Department of Premier and Cabinet, represents a collaboration from across WA State Government agencies. Phase 2 will begin shortly and will include promotion of real examples of work in the regions as well as regional work and travel opportunities for WA job seekers and students. 

More information on how to register your jobs and find employees can be found on the website.

Pilot restart of the Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme

The WA Government has committed to work with industry to progress with a pilot restart of the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS).

DPIRD has been working with industry to assess grower demand for seasonal workers. Industry consultation has identified the need and industry support to pilot a seasonal worker arrangement from our Pacific Island neighbours.

The pilot program will allow the recruitment of a limited number of SWP and PLS workers into WA via an appropriate quarantine process.


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