Fruit Growers Victoria (FGV) has today welcomed the continuing rollout of the PALM scheme to alleviate workforce pressures for Victorian fruit growers.
FGV Chairman Mitchell McNab said that the program formally known as Seasonal Worker Program had assisted several growers across the Goulburn Valley and Southern Victoria.
“About eight growers have utilised the program in the Goulburn Valley so far. Overall, 400 workers have been brought out on this year’s program intake, an increase from around 100 last year. We’re hopeful that this rate of expansion can continue.”
He called on the government to ensure changes to the program proposed for next month bring greater access and flexibility for growers.
“We want PALM to be accessible to all our grower members, not just the large operators. The workforce need is great across the whole industry, and the program should be designed with the flexibility to ensure it’s useable by smaller family farming operators.”
“We’re keen to work with government on any program design issues that need fixing as it rolls out.”
Mr. McNab also emphasised the need for robust oversight and compliance systems to ensure workers brought in under the program are well treated.
“As an industry, we’re concerned that this option won’t continue to be available if there are found to be cases of worker mistreatment under the seasonal worker program.”
“FGV is doing all we can to educate our growers about the proper use of these options, so they are legally compliant and meeting the ethical standards of the community. However, there needs to be a strong system in place so the responsible department can make sure rogue operators aren’t misusing the program.”
For more information:
Fruit Growers Victoria
Tel.: +61 0427 239 871