More than 100 Ni-Vanuatu workers landed in Hobart yesterday (Wednesday).
Fruit Growers Tasmania CEO Peter Cornish said the new arrivals will be helping a number of leading berry producers in northern Tasmania to harvest strawberries, blueberry, blackberry and raspberry harvesting work.
The workers will undergo 14 days isolation in a Government-run quarantine facility before being released into the community.
During the quarantine period, workers are tested for COVID-19 throughout this period to make sure they do not pose a health risk to the Tasmanian population.
Mr Cornish said at this stage this flight of 156 workers is the only flight of incoming seasonal workers from Vanuatu destined for Tasmania this month.
“Due to limited quarantine spaces in government quarantine facilities, we have strict limits on when flights can arrive and how many persons they can accommodate, so we aren’t expecting any other arrivals at this time.”
The workers are part of the Australian Federal Government’s Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme.
In a statement, Fruit Growers Tasmania President Scott Price said that the arrival of this core group of experienced workers into Tasmania would make a huge difference to the growers and businesses that have organised for them to come to Tasmania.
“Fruit picking is not an unskilled job, and the productivity and income difference between experienced and inexperienced workers can be significant.
“Having a core group of experienced workers on site that newer Tasmanian workers can learn from can really improve the experience and outcomes for everyone.”
Mr Cornish said there is still plenty of work available for Tasmanians despite the recent arrivals of more harvest workers from the Pacific.
“The practical reality is we need more than 8,000 seasonal workers in this state during the peak summer period just to make sure the fruit is able to be picked, packed and sent to market.”
“160 workers may sound like a lot of people, but it is a small part of the larger workforce needed to bring in Tasmania’s summer fruit harvest. January and February are always a very busy time for us, where we have cherries and summerfruit to harvest, berries in full swing, and thinning work being done for apples, pears and other autumn fruits.”
“We’re hearing from a number of growers that they’ve had increased interest from Tasmanians to help work the summer harvest and get autumn crops ready.
“As an industry we are really appreciative of all the Tasmanians to date who have stepped forward and shown commitment to helping us bring in the summer harvest.”
Photo Air Vanuatu/Facebook Caption: Air Vanuatu aircraft carrying seasonal workers touches down in Hobart, Tasmania