COVID-19 support for our primary industries

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is continuing to work with industry, government and regional stakeholders to provide support and information during the COVID-19 response.

To support the COVID-19 response, we are liaising with and gathering intelligence from key stakeholders involved in Western Australia’s primary production and food supply chain, including Regional Development Commissions, state government agencies, peak industry bodies and the food processing sector to:

  • support business continuity measures
  • reduce potential impacts of COVID-19
  • plan for a return to business as usual once the crisis has passed.

Sector leads and key contacts

If you have a query in relation to a specific area, please contact:

To protect the health and wellbeing of our staff, we are adopting state and federal government health recommendations with respect to social distancing and good hygiene. We are also putting plans in place to ensure our business continuity.

More information

For more information and support during COVID-19, please visit the:

Securing labour supply

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New measures to help fill critical labour gaps.

Based on health advice, the WA Government is introducing new measures to help WA’s agricultural and horticultural industry fill critical labour gaps.

To help WA primary industries navigate the immediate shortfall, the WA Government has formed a team dedicated to supporting these industries on workforce matters during these challenging times. 

The team can:

•    provide advice and assistance to primary industry G2G PASS applicants through our case management services.  Primary industries businesses and employees are encouraged to contact workforce@dpird.wa.gov.au for support in developing applications to seek approval for entry into WA;

•    administer the Regional Agriculture, Tourism and Hospitality Workers Travel and Accommodation Support Scheme;

•    work collaboratively with industries on innovative approaches to build a more resilient local workforce into the future.

For more information, email Brad Armstrong at workforce@dpird.wa.gov.au

The new measures build on the Paid Escape campaign and regional worker incentives on offer, with local workers still required for WA growers. 

The Regional Agriculture, Tourism and Hospitality Workers Travel and Accommodation Support Scheme is available to assist with relocation to the regions. The scheme can provide $280 a week in accommodation support for up to 12 weeks for eligible workers who move more than 100km for employment. Find out more about the travel and accommodation support scheme.

In addition, the WA Government is committed to working with industry in progressing the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Scheme. Find out more about becoming an approved employer under this Commonwealth coordinated programme via https://www.palmscheme.gov.au/

COVID-19 safeguards for WHMs

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Working Holiday Makers and employers must adhere to COVID-19 risk mitigation measures and rules.

Working Holiday Makers must follow the same guidelines to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 in Western Australia that apply to all other people in the state. If you don't, you may receive a penalty. You can also find information about the rules in languages other than English.

Working Holiday Makers will be expected to:

  • learn about safety measures in place in the workplace to minimise the risk of spread of the COVID-19 virus
  • secure accommodation of a standard to allow for appropriate physical distancing and hygiene practices
  • give employers the address of their accommodation
  • (if employed in agriculture), sign an employee-employer declaration form acknowledging they understand their obligations.

If a WHM accepts an offer of employment in the agriculture sector with onsite accommodation provided by the employer, it is the WHM's responsibility to practice physical distancing at the accommodation and in the workplace.

Safeguards for employers

If a WHM is offered agricultural employment that includes onsite accommodation provided by the employer, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the on-farm accommodation is of a standard to allow for appropriate physical distancing and hygiene practices.

COVID-19 health management plans

The state government expects agricultural and food businesses to implement COVID-19 health management plans as part of their Occupational Health and Safety responsibility. These plans should clarify the obligations of both employer and employee in mitigating risk and outline what to do should a COVID-19 outbreak occur.

In developing a plan, consider:

  • physical distancing
  • health checks and quarantine
  • how to clean your premises
  • personal hygiene
  • use of personal protective equipment
  • interactions with the public
  • consultation and communication with workers.

For guidance in developing your plan, see:

Declaration of understanding

The state government expects WHM employees and their employers to sign an employee-employer declaration form confirming they understand and will follow the protocols in place in the COVID-19 Health Management Plan.

COVID-19 and your business

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Resources and information for WA agricultural and food production businesses.

COVID-19 and the grains industry

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Information and resources for farmers and others in the WA grains industry.

We are committed to ensuring that the WA grains industry can navigate the COVID-19 situation with as little disruption to businesses as possible. 

We established the COVID-19 Grains Industry Forum to provide for two-way communication between government and key industry stakeholders to facilitate industry continuity.

The grains group has approximately 55 members covering the grains industry supply chain, from grains research and development, inputs (chemical, fertiliser and seed), transport, storage and handling, processing, machinery, through to export and trade, and includes other stakeholders such as consultants, industry groups and government.

The group is supported by the Grain Industry Association of Western Australia (GIWA).

COVID-19 resources and references 

Contact 

For further information, please contact:

Kerry Regan
Director, Grains, Primary Industries Development
kerry.regan@dpird.wa.gov.au

Alex Edward
Policy Officer, Grains, Primary Industries Development 
alex.edward@dpird.wa.gov.au

Information for the fishing industry

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Mandatory vaccination policy information for the fishing industry

In line with the WA Government’s Safe Transition Plan, a number of industries and occupations are required to be vaccinated to attend work in the event of a lockdown or similar restrictions.

The WA Government’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy is based on health advice, which is determined on the likelihood of the worker being exposed to COVID-19 and the risk of spreading the virus, particularly to vulnerable groups. The broader public health impacts of an outbreak in a particular cohort of people has also been considered.

The vaccination policy is a phased approach encompassing a wide range of occupations and workforces in Western Australia, which reflects the public health risk in this State at the time of the imposing of requirements. The advice will be reviewed if the situation evolves and requires adjustments to the mandate. WA has consistently followed the public health advice and further inclusions to the industries mandated could be considered to better protect the community.

The mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy is enforced through Public Health Directions (Directions) implemented for public health reasons, based on emergency powers under the Public Health Act 2016.

Information and FAQs

The WA Government has published extensive information to support the mandatory vaccination policy including the Mandatory Vaccination Frequently Asked Questions document, which contains relevant information for both employees and employers.

The document also links to the:

Chief Health Officer’s advice and
Mandatory vaccination directions which have been issued.

While there is no specific Direction that applies to the fishing or fish processing sector, it is important that industry participants review the Directions for applicability to the premises they operate.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) has obtained specific advice that the Meat Industry Worker Restriction Access Direction does not apply to fish processing.

The Critical Business Worker Restrictions Access Directions has impacts on industry-related activity and it would be expected that any business in the fishing industry has made an assessment of whether this Direction applies to their operation.

Mandatory vaccination where no direction applies

If there is not a Direction in place for a particular workplace, then whether an employer can require an employee to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to access that Page 2 of 2 workplace is likely to depend on the specific situation. An employer can give an employee a lawful and reasonable direction. Whether an employer’s direction requiring an employee to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is considered lawful and reasonable will depend on the circumstances. Employers are encouraged to seek independent legal advice on their specific situations.

There are a range of factors that may be considered in determining whether a direction to an employee is reasonable, including:

 

  • any public health orders or Directions of the State or Federal Government which are in place at a particular time
  • whether a law, a WA award or registered agreement or an employment contract allows an employer to require an employee to be vaccinated against COVID-19
  • an employer’s duties under workplace health and safety laws
  • the type of work being performed by an employee
  • the nature of the workplace and
  • an employee’s specific circumstances, including whether an employee has a legitimate reason for not being vaccinated (for example, a medical reason).

Where an employer decides to introduce changes that are likely to have significant effects on employees, it is important that the employer consults their employees.

Further information on COVID-19 vaccinations within the private sector can be found on the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety website.

COVID-19 impact on fishing operations

In the event that significant cases occur in Western Australia it is possible that fishers may be unable to meet some statutory obligations.

Should a commercial fisher contract COVID-19 or visit an exposure site, advice from the Department of Health should be followed. If you are required to isolate and unable to retrieve or check gear in the water within mandatory timeframes, please contact your local compliance office, as soon as possible.

Compliance officers will discuss alternative arrangements for the gear to be retrieved (e.g. another operator), or left in the water until you have recovered and can safely retrieve the gear.

Page reviewed 29 March 2022