The Department of Primary Industries and Regions – in conjunction with SA Health and SA Police – have been hard at work to identify and set up a suitable quarantine facility in South Australia to host much needed seasonal workers.

This important facility has been established at Paringa in the Riverland, and I am pleased to advise you that if businesses in your sector are seeking access to a workforce in the coming months, there is potentially some capacity to access workers through the Pacific Labour Mobility Programs in June.

In order to access this opportunity, businesses will need to take urgent action.

With strong demand for workers across the agricultural sector, the South Australian Government is assisting employers gain access to workers through the Commonwealth Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme.

As with all international arrivals, these employees will require 14 days quarantine in an approved facility. With medi-hotel capacity in SA limited and prioritised for returning Australians, the establishment of quarantine capacity at Paringa has overcome a key challenge to accessing Pacific workers.

The SA Government is supporting the establishment of this dedicated seasonal worker quarantine facility at Paringa, which has capacity for six fortnightly flights of up to 216 workers. Employers are contributing $2,500 per worker towards the total cost of the operation of this quarantine facility.

The first four flights are in the advanced stages of planning, and are at capacity, with the first of these flights due to arrive on 9 April. Flights are then expected to arrive fortnightly on following Fridays.

At the moment, there is capacity for workers to potentially arrive on flights on 4 June 2021 and 18 June 2021 – subject to demand and availability.

Workers arriving under the schemes must be employed by Approved Employers. The process of becoming an Approved Employer takes months and for new businesses this will not be possible before June. However businesses can engage workers through an existing Approved Employer Labour Hire Company. The following Approved Employers are already assisting businesses to recruit Pacific workers to SA and may be able to assist for the potential 4 and 18 June flights (other Approved Employers may also be able to assist).

MADEC – lburt@madec.edu.au

FIP Group – dmcmahon@fipgroup.com.au

Jobs Australia – greg.kaynes@jobsaustralia.com.au

Planning, approvals, charter flights, identification and approval of ongoing accommodation, recruitment, visas and other arrangements take a minimum of six weeks.

Therefore any businesses that are seeking workers under the program need to contact one of the Approved Employers or Stephen Poskett (PIRSA, Stephen.Poskett@sa.gov.au) as soon as possible. The final deadline for businesses to avail themselves of this opportunity will be Friday 16 April.

The Paringa quarantine facility is planned to close after these flights and return to its regular use at this time of year housing seasonal citrus workers. The SA Government is continuing to explore additional quarantine options to facilitate access to Pacific Workers in the future.

I encourage any businesses seeking workers through the program to please make contact as soon as possible.