Frequently asked questions

This information is provided to help workers participating in Pacific labour mobility programs, including the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS), with answers to frequently asked questions.

 

Latest health.gov.au updates

On 4 April 2020, the Australian Government announced that Pacific workers in Australia under the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) or Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) whose visas are expiring and are unable to return home will be able to apply for an additional (subclass 408) visa.

The new visa will enable workers to remain legally in Australia and continue working for up to 12 months. There is no cost for this visa.

Workers will be able to remain with their current employer and continue earning an income, where the current employer has sufficient work.

If the current employer does not have sufficient work, the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (SWP workers) or Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (PLS workers) will work with Approved Employers to seek alternative work placements where possible.

You can find more information on the Department of Home Affairs website.

If workers do not want to be redeployed and would like to return to their home country, they need to be aware that there are currently limited flight options available for returning home.

Where a worker rejects an offer of redeployment, the worker will need to cover any outstanding costs of their return flight (when available) and any accommodation and living expenses until they are able to leave Australia.

Workers who choose this option will be transferred to another visa once their current visa expires allowing them to remain legally in Australia but they will not be able to continue working.

These situations are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Exemptions to movement restrictions are available for workers in critical sectors, particularly agriculture and health (including aged care). Workers will be supported by Approved Employers or the Pacific Labour Facility to apply for exemptions where they are required to relocate for work.

In instances where a worker is seeking to return home (when flights become available), they should first consult their Approved Employer to determine what movement restrictions may apply and how to obtain any necessary exemptions.

Approved Employers, in turn, should consult the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (SWP) or Pacific Labour Facility (PLS) for the latest advice or follow the relevant State or Territory guidelines.

Approved employers have been asked to support workers who are required to self-isolate while in Australia. The exact support provided will vary depending on the specific circumstances.

Workers’ health insurance must remain valid. If a worker contracts COVID-19 and require hospitalisation they will have access to the same standard of health care as Australians.

Should you be unable to meet immediate living expenses due to COVID-19, the Australian Government has announced that you will be able to apply for the early release of your superannuation up to the value of $10,000 per financial year.

More information can be found on the Australian Taxation Office webpage or you can contact the Pacific Labour Facility hotline on 1800 51 51 31.

Currently there is no advice from Western Union or other money transfer operators that they have stopped operations, however, there may be some slight disruptions or delays to remittance services during the COVID-19 outbreak. We will continue to communicate changes as we become aware of them.

There is a range of useful guides and contacts on the Pacific labour mobility webpage and Facebook. We encourage workers to follow the Facebook page to stay up to date.

Workers should also speak with their employers who may be able to assist or can direct the worker to alternative sources of information including the hotlines below.

Useful phone numbers and websites

There are hotlines available for residents of each Australian state and territory, plus other online sources of information.

 

National coronavirus helpline (24 hours a day, seven days a week) 1800 020 080
Local state and territory health department contacts https://www.health.gov.au/about-us/contact-us/local-state-and-territory-health-departments
Victoria coronavirus hotline 1800 675 398
New South Wales hotline 1800 020 080
Queensland community recovery hotline 1800 173 349
Northern Territory hotline 1800 020 080
Western Australia hotline 1800 020 080
South Australian hotline 1800 253 787
Tasmania hotline 1800 671 738
Australian Capital Territory information line 02 6207 7244
Pacific Labour Facility 24-hour hotline 1800 51 51 31
Pacific Labour Facility email welfare@pacificlabourfacility.com.au
Seasonal Worker Programme information line 02 6240 6234
Seasonal Worker Programme email seasonalworker@dese.gov.au

Need more help?

Beyond Blue and Lifeline Australia are available if you are feeling anxious or depressed and want to speak to someone.

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 46 36 | beyondblue.org.au

Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14 | lifeline.org.au