Under the Dairy Industry Template Labour Agreement, finalised with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on 17 July 2015, dairy farmers are
now able to recruit senior farmhands from overseas on 457 Visas as well as farm managers.
Eligibility for the 457 visa was previously restricted to farm managers which the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO)
recognises as skill level 1. Feedback indicated however that many farm employers were seeking workers with qualifications one level under management
– capable of organising day-to-day operations but not necessarily making major decisions.
The Australian dairy industry is in a position to grow substantially over the next decade to meet the burgeoning demand across Asia for high quality, safe
dairy products. Yet the industry’s capacity to increase production is fundamentally constrained by a chronic shortage of skilled labour in the Australian
Recognising this, in 2014 Dairy Australia, in collaboration with Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) approached the Department of Immigration with the Dairy
Industry Labour Agreement Template. The agreement is designed to give farmers more options when seeking labour by expanding the eligibility criteria
for 457 visas and reducing paperwork.
Chair of ADF Policy Advisory Group in the People and Human Capacity space, John Versteden said the agreement provides another option for farmers to fill
the short term skills gap for farmhands in Australian dairy.
“The dairy industry’s most valuable asset is the people who work in it, which is why it is important to commit to attracting, retaining and developing
the most skilled labour,” Mr Versteden said.
“While our preference is always to hire Australian workers, there are not enough experienced, available farmhands to meet the demand in a growing industry.”
The industry has invested heavily in training and upskilling its workforce, including via certificate and diploma courses offered through the National
Dairy Education Centre (NCDE) since 2006. Although student numbers are steadily growing, it is still not enough to meet dairy’s growing demand for
skilled workers as production scales up to meet growing export demand.
Senior farmhands recruited under the labour agreement must have Certificate III or equivalent qualifications in addition to at least three years of recent
and relevant experience, or alternatively five years of recent and relevant experience.
You can find further information on the Dairy Industry Labour Agreement Template via http://www.thepeopleindairy.org.au/engagement-reward/contracts-and-agreements.htm