More than 1,000 seasonal workers will be able to safely arrive in South Australia over the coming months with a speciality regional quarantine facility to be set up in the Riverland.
The facility at Paringa will cater specifically for workers arriving under the Commonwealth Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme, with new arrivals expected every 14 days over the next three months.
The $7 million program will help fill critical worker shortages in agriculture and will be jointly funded by the Marshall Liberal Government and industry.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham said the State Government has worked closely with SA Health and SAPOL to ensure the facility meets strict safety standards.
“South Australia’s primary industries are worth $14.1 billion a year to the state economy and with citrus season fast approaching it is critical we deliver a safe solution to fill our seasonal worker shortages to ensure our state’s crops are harvested,” Minster Basham said.
“We know that many Pacific nations have seen low case numbers of COVID-19 but protecting the wider community from any risk has been at the forefront of our planning.
“We have been working closely with SA Health, SA Police, industry and a number of key businesses to ensure the safety of the Paringa facility.
“We are expecting around 200 workers to arrive in South Australia shortly with our program able to cater for up to 1,000 more over the coming months.
“I know the stress that industry has been facing as the citrus harvest draws closer, and I am pleased that through dedication and hard work we have been able to map out a safe pathway forward to bring in seasonal workers.
“The State Government has made a significant push to encourage unemployed locals to take up fruit picking this year, but unfortunately not enough people have rallied to the call and foreign workers are now a critical need.”
The seasonal workers will arrive under the Commonwealth Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme and will be transported directly to the Paringa Resort near Renmark, where they will complete 14 days quarantine before being able to undertake vital work.
Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said careful planning had occurred across a range of agencies in order to ensure this program was safely managed, with the workers to undergo COVID-19 testing on arrival, as well as on day five and 12.
“The Department of Primary Industries and Regions, supported by SA Health and SA Police will oversee the program, which will involve creating a secure, regional hub to cohort seasonal workers in COVID-safe accommodation,” Minister Wade said.
“This is a different process to the Medi-Hotel programme and focuses on seasonal workers who can quarantine together within secure units, with access to outdoor space and self-catering facilities to ensure minimum contact with dedicated quarantine workers.
“Reassuringly although more than 2600 Pacific Island workers have come into Australia since the outbreak of COVID-19, none of those individuals has tested positive for the virus.”
The workers will be over and above the repatriation of returning Australians.
If any individual tests positive for COVID-19 they will be transferred to the dedicated quarantine facility in Adelaide and managed according to the appropriate guidelines set out by SA Health.