THE government is using every social lever it can to encourage young Australians to take up seasonal work, as it attempts to tackle the ag industry's labour shortfall.
Peak harvest season is just around the corner and many sectors are desperate for workers with a lack of the traditionally relied upon backpackers and international workers due to border closures.
The government announced $17.4 million to help Aussies relocate to take up seasonal work, with individuals able to apply for $6000 grants.
That will be paired with tweaks to youth social benefits, which will allow young people who choose to work on farms faster access to Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the suite of measures dealt with the reality of the situation - that many people on unemployment benefits have family commitments thousands of kilometres away from short-term ag jobs.
"They're less likely to travel the country than those about to leave school," Mr Littleproud said.
"It's a free society and I can't force people to work a job they don't want to do, so I'm pulling every lever I can to encourage people to take them up."
From November 1, young people who earn over $15,000 working on a farm will be eligible for the independence certificate they need to qualify for Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY.
Normally a young person would need to work full time for at least 18 months or part time for two years to prove financial independence.
"That accelerated pathway is a big incentive - and we're going to help them travel the country, with a $6000 relocation package," Mr Littleproud said.
"We understand it's a big country, these jobs are often far away and we want to help them get to there."
Mr Littleproud said there was no one single solution for the labour shortage, with the government also announcing $9m for the Seasonal Worker Program. He said further announcements around visa conditions would come "in the near future".
"But I've got to be honest, unless we get some people to have a crack at this, we are going to start to see prices rise in supermarkets," Mr Littleproud said.
AUSVEG national public affairs manager Tyson Cattle said the incentives announced were "more than what we expected".
"At the moment we're waiting to see the finer detail, but it looks good on paper," Mr Cattle said.
"Whether it solves the 26,000 roles we need, it's probably unlikely but it's a step in the right direction."
Previous attempts to entice domestic workers in to seasonal jobs have "failed miserable", but Mr Cattle said the industry and the government were very hopeful this time would be different.
The story Young people doing seasonal work will get Youth Allowance quicker first appeared on Farm Online.