'Come on down' - Australia offers backpackers visa fee refund to improve labour shortage

'Come on down' - Australia offers backpackers visa fee refund to improve labour shortage

THE PRIME Minister of Australia has announced changes to rules surrounding student and backpacker visas in an effort to improve the current shortage of labour that the country is facing.

For twelve weeks from today, all backpackers who currently have visas for entry into the country will have their application fee ($495/€313) rebated.

In a press conference announcing the change, PM Scott Morrison said there are 23,500 backpackers who have visas to come to Australia right now.

"And my message to them is - come on down," he said.

"We want you to come to Australia and enjoy a holiday here in Australia, move all the way, all the way around the country, and at the same time join our workforce and help us in our agricultural sector, in our hospitality sector, and so many of the other parts the economy that rely on that labour, that workforce right now."

Similarly, the Prime Minister announced a change to student visas which will allow students to work more than 20 hours a week.

Students' visa fees ($630/€398) will also be rebated for those arriving within the next eight weeks.

"And there are around 150,000 students who have visas who we are encouraging to come back to be there for the start of their university or college year, and that is a thank you to them for coming back and continuing to choose Australia," Morrison said.

"But we also want them to come here and be able to be filling some of these critical workforce shortages, particularly those who are working and being trained in health care, aged care, those types of sectors.

The cost of the rebate of both visas is to come to an estimated cost of $55 million (€35 million).

A marketing programme to the cost of $3 million will also be implemented to target students and backpackers to encourage them to avail of the visa fee rebate.

When backpackers and students arrive at the border they will "have to be double vaccinated like anybody else", and they will face the same quarantine arrangements that are enforced and required by the states.