Backpacker information

Work in Queensland – information for seasonal workers, including temporary visa holders

Everyone has a general obligation to help keep themselves, their neighbours and their community as safe as possible from coronavirus (COVID-19). You must follow Queensland’s public health directions for COVID-19 when working in Queensland.

If you want to work in agribusiness or commercial fishing in Queensland during COVID-19, you must:

On this page:


Harvest work opportunities

A range of seasonal work opportunities are available in Queensland’s agribusiness and commercial fishing industries for temporary visa holders and seasonal workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of these opportunities will be located in regional areas across Queensland.

Roles available will be for skilled and unskilled workers. Harvest work is seasonal and includes many different jobs like picking fruit and vegetables, working in packing sheds, canneries and other processing plants or factories, pruning and planting. It can be physically hard work in outdoor conditions.

Applying for harvest work

  1. Prepare your resume. Ensure you have proof of all of your qualifications ready to go. At this time, employers are going to be inundated with applicants. You should do everything possible to make it easy to assess your application.
  2. Register with Harvest Trail , or Harvest Labour Services (HLS) to look for job vacancies that match your skills. It will also give you more information on how to look for and apply for vacant positions.
  3. Do your research and ensure you have the right paperwork and visa in place to start work.
  4. Continue to observe current government health advice .

You may also consider participating in an occupational health and safety training course to prepare for work in a manual environment.

If you are a Queensland resident, authorised to work in Australia and not currently working, or are seeking additional hours, you could consider registering with Jobs Finder Queensland .

More jobs in agriculture can also be found on the Australian Government’s Job Search site – tip: download the jobactive Job Seeker app, use the advanced search and make sure you include ‘external jobs’ and search ‘agriculture’ by location.

It is advised that you do not turn up to farms looking for work.

Worker entitlements

The Fair Work Ombudsman offers guidance regarding sending workers home, leave entitlements and reduction of hours for employers paying under the federal system.

You will be entitled to be paid under the relevant state or federal award. There is no change in this legislation due to the COVID-19 situation. ‚Äč

Indicative salaries are available at the Australian Government job outlook .

If you have a complaint relating to a business employing seasonal workers (agribusiness, commercial fisheries, transport or accommodation) you should contact the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries at DAFCOVID19Enquiries@daf.qld.gov.au.

Back to top ↑


Where to stay

You can search for a range of accommodation options in Queensland on the following sites:

Talk to your employer to see if there is anything they can do to assist you to find accommodation.

Find out what accommodation providers must do to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 among their guests and the community.

Back to top ↑


Travelling into Queensland

If you have been in a COVID-19 hotspot within the last 14 days, you will not be permitted entry to Queensland.

The Chief Health Officer has issued a class exemption under the Border Restriction Direction (No.12) for farmers and agribusiness workers needing to move between Queensland and New South Wales to perform essential agribusiness services or farming activities, such as tending to livestock or crops for one month commencing 22 August 2020). This exemption does not apply to seasonal workers.

To enter Queensland from a non-COVID-19 hotspot you must do all of the following:

If you provide false, misleading or incorrect information on a border declaration it is an offence punishable by a fine of $4,004 or a court-imposed penalty of up to $13,345.

There are currently no entry requirements, quarantine requirements and travel restrictions for remote communities in Queensland.

View the latest information about border restrictions.

Back to top ↑


Health advice and requirements

Quarantine

You must quarantine at a government nominated premise for 14 days at your own cost on entry to Queensland if, in the 14 days prior, you:

  • have been overseas
  • have been in a declared COVID-19 hotspot
  • have had contact with a person who is a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • have COVID-19 or have had COVID-19
  • have had symptoms consistent with COVID-19
  • are making Queensland your new place of residence.

Quarantine means staying in your hotel room and not going to public places or accepting visitors even if you do not feel sick.

If you are suspected to have breached your quarantine it may result in your visa being cancelled, receiving fines of up to $13,345 and other penalties.

If you develop a fever, a cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, you should contact a doctor or call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84). COVID-19 testing and treatment is free for all people in all states and territories without access to Medicare or health insurance, including temporary visa holders and unlawful non-citizens.

Find more information about quarantine requirements.

At work and in the community

Social distancing is one way to help slow the spread of disease. When at work and in the community you should keep 1.5 metres away from others as much as possible.

You should also:

  • stay home if you are sick
  • wash hands regularly.

Visit Queensland Health for the latest health information and instructions. 

Join the Australian Government WhatsApp group for the latest news and advice.

Back to top ↑


Your employer's responsibilities

Employers must have a health management plan to manage the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and also:

  • maintain good hygiene and cleanliness of the workplace
  • implement physical distancing – keeping everyone at the workplace at least 1.5 metres physically apart
  • use personal protective equipment (PPE) appropriately – where necessary.

Back to top ↑


How to apply for visa extension

If you are in Australia on a visa, you must apply for a new visa before your current visa expires. You may be eligible to be granted a bridging visa that will keep you lawful until a decision is made on your visa application. See what you need to do to stay longer.

The majority of temporary visa holders, who are eligible to seek employment with an agribusiness or commercial fishing operator, include:

  • Temporary Work (International Relations) visa (subclass 403) Pacific Labour scheme stream.
  • Temporary Work (International Relations) visa (subclass 403) Seasonal Worker Program stream.
  • Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa
  • Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa
  • Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa in the Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream.

Some services relating to the visa application process may be impacted by COVID-19.

International students

If you hold a student visa, you must follow the same guidelines as other non-permanent residents for accommodation, transport and work.

If you are a student at a higher education institution or boarding school entering Queensland for study, you are allowed to enter Queensland if you have been in a declared hotspot in the 14 days prior to entry. However, you must quarantine in government nominated accommodation at your own expense for 14 days.

Back to top ↑


Compliance for temporary visa holders

The continued breaching of COVID-19 public health directions may result in your visa being cancelled.

Referrals for visa non-compliance are to be reported to the Queensland Police Service (QPS). The QPS can issue on-the-spot fines of $1334 for individuals for failing to abide by the public health directions. If a person does not comply with quarantine directions, penalties of up to $13,345 for individuals may apply.

Report suspicious activity to the QPS.

Any community member can make an online report of suspected illegal or criminal immigration, visa, customs and trade activity to the Department of Home Affairs through Border Watch.

Back to top ↑


Support for temporary visa holders

Small one-off emergency relief payments are available to people on temporary visas who have no way to support themselves and who have urgent needs. The funding will help people meet their basic needs like food, medicine or shelter. The funding will not be available to people who are eligible for state or territory support.

More information is available on the Red Cross website.

State and territory governments are also providing practical and financial assistance for international students and other temporary visa holders, including asylum seekers and temporary protection visa holders.

Many student visa holders will also be able to access support from their education provider – universities have announced $145 million in assistance for this group.

More information is available on the Study in Australia website.

Back to top ↑


More information

This flowchart will assist you to understand the process to follow when looking for work in Queensland agriculture or commercial fishing industry.

Agribusiness or commercial fishing employees flowchart

Back to top ↑

Last updated:
25 August 2020