Push to fill backpacker jobs in bush

Catherine Massey and Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
Busselton Jetty
Camera IconBusselton Jetty Credit: Visarge/Tourism Western Australia, Visarge

A new campaign by the McGowan Government has highlighted labour shortages in regional WA in the hospitality industry, jobs usually filled by international backpackers.

The ‘Work and Wander out Yonder’ campaign encourages young Western Australians to plan working holidays in popular tourism destinations, with hospitality business is desperate need for waiters, run staff and dishwashers.

The $3 million package which comes into effect on Monday will include $40 a night for accommodation and up to $500 for travel for each worker relocating to the regions for work.

Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association co-chief executive Sharna Kearney said members from across the board has informed the association it was difficult to secure staff.

“The inability to secure appropriately qualified staff has the potential to impact on business operations and what they can offer visitors,” she said.

Cheeky Monkey managing director Brent Burton told the Times their popular tourist destination brewery and restaurant in Wilyabrup was desperate for dishwashers and wait-staff.

“Locals seem to be happy to not work because they are receiving JobSeeker payments and their is just not enough people in the region willing to take on casual work,” he said.

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said she was contacted by local operators and had raised the issue with premier Mark McGowan.

“The shortage of a variety of skilled staff in the hospitality and agricultural industries is very concerning.”

“Many operators are looking at either reducing their hours of business or the scope of their production, which has the potential to then have an impact on prices for the consumer.”

The Australian Hotels Association WA chief executive Bradley Woods welcomed the “Work and Wonder out Yonder” campaign and said the initiative would help fill critical workforce shortages.

“International backpackers have traditionally played a pivotal role in Australia’s hospitality industry, however with approximately 50,000 working holiday makers having left Australia because of COVID-19 it is imperative that we investigate ways to get jobseekers to fill the many positions that are available outside of Perth.”

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