Vila Times

Pacific Islanders pushed European backpackers out of Australian farm labour market

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Australian agriculture industry is experiencing a shift in labour from European backpackers to Pacific Islanders.

Growers need pickers, packers and overall production workers for lychees and mangoes.

Mareeba District Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association president Joe Moro said there was a shift from European backpackers to South Pacific Islanders thanks to the Department of Employment’s Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP), reports The Cairns Post.

The SWP lets the agriculture industry hire workers from participating Pacific Islands countries who are able to return year after year.

“One thing we have been advised is that as the economy gets strong in Europe, numbers of backpackers will start to drop from those countries,” Moro said. “We are starting to see a switch from backpackers to the guest worker program — South Pacific Islander workers.”