14 April 2005

Enhancements to Working Holiday Maker visa program

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The Working Holiday Maker (WHM) Program will be enhanced to encourage more of these young people to undertake seasonal harvest work, Senator Amanda Vanstone, Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs announced today

From November 2005, WHMs will be able to apply for another WHM visa if they have done at least 3 months seasonal harvest work in regional Australia. At present, WHMs can only get one such visa in a lifetime.

‘During my consultations, many farmers said that WHMs are amongst their most valuable workers because of their enthusiasm and mobility,’ Senator Vanstone said.

This change will mean even more WHMs will become available to Australian farmers. It will also benefit other industries, as WHMs who do harvest work and stay on in Australia for another year will be available to work in industries such as tourism.

Over recent years, the WHM Program has grown significantly from less than 50,000 per annum in the mid-1990s to over 100,000 expected in 2004-05. This is expected to grow further in 2005-06.

WHMs regularly approach my Department for a second WHM visa. This change will now mean that they can get that second WHM visa.

To assist the smaller states and regions access more skilled migrants, WHMs and Occupational Trainee visa holders will also be allowed to apply for and obtain a Skilled Independent Regional visa while still onshore which then provides a pathway to permanent residence.

The Minister said that WHMs are often highly skilled and can make a positive long-term contribution to regional communities.

These two changes will make Australia’s WHM Program even more attractive thus providing an important boost to our tourism industry. Both the United Kingdom and Australia have benefited from the reciprocal arrangement. The program provides young Australians with a chance to gain valuable skills overseas, thereby increasing Australia’s competitiveness in the global market, while enabling young people from the United Kingdom to come to Australia on working holidays.

More than 95,750 visas were issued under the program last year, of which 35,061 were to UK nationals.

Under the arrangement, young Britons aged between 18 and 30 can apply for working holiday visas for up to 12 months. Work undertaken must be incidental to the main purpose of holidaying and, employment for more than three months with any one employer is not allowed.

The program boosts tourism to Australia and benefits industries that rely heavily on casual labour at peak times, especially the hospitality, horticultural and rural industries.

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