Friday, 02 February 2024
Media release

Backpackers to lend a hand in natural disaster recovery

Joint media release with the Hon Murray Watt and Nita Green

The Albanese Labor Government is providing greater incentives for backpackers to help with natural disaster recovery through changes to the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) program as part of its continued effort to resource and support communities recovering from natural disasters.

Under previous arrangements, people who held a Working Holiday Makers who worked or volunteered in areas affected by floods and bushfires were eligible to apply for a second or third WHM visa.

From today, this work will extend beyond flood and bushfire recovery to other forms of natural disasters such as cyclones or storm surges as part of the Government’s response to recent weather events in Queensland.

These changes recognise the important role of working holiday makers in helping regions in the aftermath of natural disasters, and their valuable support to businesses and communities to recover as quickly as possible.

The Albanese Government is committed to using our migration system to help meet the needs of regional Australia. Further changes to skilled and regional migration, including the WHM program, are being considered as part of the Migration Strategy

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Emergency Management, Senator the Hon Murray Watt:

"When it comes to recovering from natural disasters, it's always all hands on deck to assist in the cleanup and rebuild.

"So, making it easier for working holiday makers to help out in the aftermath of these events is going to be a great help for local communities, particularly those who have recently experienced cyclones or floods.”

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Giles MP:

“From supporting the recovery work in the immediate aftermath of natural disasters, to their ongoing participation in the local workforce and economy, backpackers are vital to regional Australia.

“The new arrangements will help regional communities retain backpackers who are already making a contribution to local recovery efforts, and attract community-minded working holiday makers to areas where they will make a real difference in the lives of those impacted by natural disasters.”

Quotes attributable to Senator Nita Green:

“Far North Queensland is no stranger to backpackers, they make up a huge part of our communities and support our tourism industry.

“This new arrangement will mean so much for tourism towns like Cairns, who when faced with natural disasters, can often lose that pull for backpackers to come and work here.

“Now, they will be incentivised to come to assist in local recovery, and then hopefully stay in our beautiful regions.”