For backpackers looking for farm work, the stress of trying to find a job that is suitable for your 88 days compulsory work days can almost make you question if the second year in this beautiful country is even worth it. We’ve been there, almost every other backpacker we’ve met along the way has too, so you’re definitely not alone. To make life a little easier and a lot less scary for you, here are our top tips on what to look out for when searching for the perfect placement!
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Jump to what you’re looking for;
Know the working holiday visa requirements
If there’s something Australian Immigration love, it’s making its visitors jump through hoops to get here and/or stay longer. Gaining your second-year visa will feel just like that but it’s definitely easier when you know what it is they’re asking from you. This will help you weed through the dodgy work offers you’re bound to get from farmers who just want cheap labour. Here’s the current list of what’s required beyond the 88 days farm work:
A valid ABN:
All businesses have one but in order to be valid, the company needs to be registered as commercial, not just a hobby farm running from their back garden. You can check a companies ABN by asking them directly for it, or by searching the company name online; legally the ABN should be readily available to the public. If a farm/company is hesitant to give you it, be cautious. To us, this is a red flag.
The right postcode:
The farm postcode needs to be outside city limits. You can check all valid postal codes on the immigration website. Ask for this, or check the address before you agree to work, we’d hate to see you get 4 weeks into your days and the address to be invalid.
It is SO important that you collect EVERY.SINGLE.ONE of your payslips. This is the 1st item of proof immigration will ask for, and without the full record of your days on paper, you risk having your second-year visa denied. For your payslip to be legal it needs to show the companies ABN, the company name, your name, tax details, superannuation details as well as all your wage details and any deductions (more on this next!)
This currently (Feb 2018) stands at $18.69. This is the wage you are entitled to, and that must be showing on your payslip BEFORE tax, and AFTER deductions (anything over is a bonus). If in your work agreement you’ll receive food/board/lodgings for a small cut of your weekly wages, these deductions have to be listed on your payslip, especially if after deductions it works out you are on less than the industry minimum.
Piece rate agreement:
Some jobs aren’t paid hourly, they’re paid ‘per piece’. This is usually either by bin, by weight or by each piece of fruit packed/picked. If you work for piece rate, you’ll need what is called a ‘piece rate agreement’. This is to ensure you get paid what you agreed to, and so immigration can make sure the farm is doing things by the book. Without a piece rate agreement, your days worked will unlikely be counted should you get investigated.
The website states you must work ‘industry standards’ for a day to be counted towards your seconds year visa, this is where things get a bit hazy as industry standard varies from place to place. E.g milkers on a dairy farm will work different hours to packers in an orange factory. As a general rule of thumb 7-8 hours, a day is a safe amount to count. If you work 38 hours throughout 5 days of the week, this means you are entitled to count your 2 days off (so 5 full days worked, counts as 7) IF you’re with the same company for the entirety of your compulsory farm work.
I very nearly missed this one off, and its the most important one. It should be the most obvious too, but it’s not. Although it’s commonly known as 88day farm work, you don’t actually HAVE to do it on a farm. Your rural work can come in many forms (a full up to date list on the immigration website) so if you don’t fancy picking fruit, planting trees or milking cows you could try your hand at traffic control in the Northern Territory, or get stuck in on a commercial construction site…. just remember to check those postcodes!!
Jobs that count!
Commercial Construction (outside the city)
Farming and Agriculture
Jobs that DON’T count!
Office work on a farm
Know where to look for farm work
Now you know what you’re looking for, you’ll want to figure out where is best to look. There are endless possibilities for this, as with all jobs. So here are our favourites that got us those most leads!
The easiest source for finding farm work for your second-year visa (and actually hearing back from those we contacted!) was gumtree. Now, we know this is a notorious hunting ground for dodgy dealings, perverts and all round weirdos, especially when you post your own advert seeking work! Don’t let these scare you off: if you have the patience (and you know what to look out for) gold can be found here. Filter your search down to a few keywords such as “88 days” “rural work” “farm work” “2nd year visa”, or even by job role “farm hand” “farm assistant” “fruit pickers” “fruit packers” “harvest assistants”, this will make sifting through it all a smaller job. The more unique your keywords are, the more likely you’ll be to find a job that hasn’t been snapped up yet.
Our three-pointers when looking at adverts to decide if they’re legit are:
- Job specifics (any vagueness about what the job entails, has us scrolling past)
- Well written (as with spam emailsEnglish and grammatical errors are usually signs of a spam advert. AVOID)
- Easy to contact (Most legit people will be happy to speak to you on the phone, or will provide an email address
Facebook groups have become a leading way for people to do, or find anything these days, so it should be no surprise you can find your second-year visa farm work here too! There are a good handful of amazing groups dedicated to helping you find safe and legit farm work placements all over Australia.
Word of mouth:
Word of mouth and hearing good reviews about a farm is so important when it comes to completing your 88 days. It reduces the fear of the unknown and if someone else has had a great experience from there (and had their visa granted!) the likely hood is that you will too!!
We’re on our second placement now, due to Dec being a lot luckier than me on our first, but both of these were actually recommended to us by a friend. So far, so good! Get asking people who have done it already! Failing that, if you find a placement through other means don’t be afraid to call up a few local places and ask if they know the farmer and if they’d let their daughter/son/grandkids work for them… a lot of second-year visa jobs are in small remote area’s where everyone will know everyone.
These can be a lifesaver when you’re looking for your farm work, as it’s accommodation and job hunt all rolled into one. When you move into a working hostel, it is the hostel managers duty to find your farm work for your visa. If you know what you’re looking for and ask the right questions, the right working hostel will see you through all your days without a glitch. Remember they’re doing you a service, and if you aren’t getting what you’re paying for (you pay in rent) LEAVE. A good hostel will have reasonable rent and have you in a job within a reasonable time (we allowed ours a week). Make sure you get EVERYTHING you need for your proof should your visa be investigated, and you’ll be fine. The right working hostel will also provide you with the opportunity to meet like-minded people, and you’ll almost certainly gain friends for life from it so don’t be afraid to try!
If you’ve exhausted all other methods, another one we’ve heard people try (although we personally haven’t) is googling farms in the accepted areas and checking their website or calling them to see if they accept backpackers and if they are viable to sign off the 88 days. With this source, it is crucial that you know what it is exactly what you need to avoid being ripped off.
Are you road tripping Australia too? Here’s some road trip guides to take your mind off the stress of farm work:
Now that you know what you are looking for, and where to look, we hope that finding your 88 days farm work will be a little easier. Your second-year visa is definitely worth the ‘hassle’ and so far, it has actually been some of our favourite time spent in Australia! Have fun with it, don’t view it as work and your days will fly by! Enjoy!!!
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