The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) and the Produce Marketing Association Australia-New Zealand (PMA A-NZ) have jointly hosted an industry forum to discuss the importance of overseas workers to Australian agriculture.
The forum, held in Canberra on August 11, was attended by key stakeholders across the fresh food supply chain, including farmer representative groups, retailers, unions, overseas workers, academics, recruitment services providers, social welfare organisations, government and political representatives.
NFF General Manager of Workplace Relations and Legal Affairs Sarah McKinnon said the forum represented the beginning of a national conversation on workforce sustainability in the fresh food industry.
“The strong level of participation reflects the level of interest, both among industry and the wider community,” she said. “We now have an opportunity to develop greater consistency of approach to employment and contractor engagement across the supply chain.”
Ms McKinnon said a consistent and coordinated approach to workforce engagement also offered the potential to lift productivity and increase farm gate returns.
“[The forum] reinforced the need to deliver meaningful measures to better protect overseas workers, while ensuring agriculture has a sustainable workforce for the future,” she said.
“We can always do more to tell the great stories of Australian agriculture and to adopt strategies to help insulate us from the damage caused when rogue contractors hit the spotlight.
“We’re grateful to all of those who came to the forum and shared their views, and we look forward to an ongoing conversation in the long-term interests of Australian agriculture.”