Thursday, May 23, 2024

Border win for citrus workers

Victorian seasonal workers will be able to cross the NSW border to work in citrus and other key industries under concessions negotiated between the Victorian and NSW governments.

Minister for Regional Development, Jaclyn Symes said workers from agricultural hubs like Mildura would be permitted access under the current COVID border arrangements.

“We know this is a tough time for border communities and we’re doing everything we can to support them,” said Ms Symes.

“Thanks to our collaborative approach, many Victorian communities and businesses can get access to the services they need – but we will continue to advocate on behalf of Victorians who’ve built their lives across the border.”

She said Victorian border communities would also continue to have access to critical medical treatment and essential supplies across the border following collaborative talks between the states.

New changes to NSW border rules include:

  • lifting the ban on seasonal workers crossing into NSW and lifting the ban for some seasonal visa workers;
  • enabling Victorians who cannot access medical care locally to enter NSW to access health services;
  • ensuring health care workers no longer have to self-isolate when returning to NSW if they have been working outside the border zone in Victoria;
  • including thousands of students and teachers who reside outside of the border zone in the zone, so they can access work and education;
  • remapping the border zone to include the Sturt Highway – enabling faster, safer travel routes between Robinvale and Mildura;
  • introducing a permit for certain smaller and remote communities to access essential goods and supplies, including food, fuel, hygiene products and disability services. This has enabled far east Gippsland communities to access shops across the border.

Mr Symes said while there had been significant improvement in border conditions, there were still ongoing issues facing border communities across Victoria. 

Under new rules imposed by the South Australian Government, Victorians living within 40 kilometres of the South Australian border can cross for work or education, to provide or receive care, and to obtain essential supplies.

However, the rules also stipulate that Victorians aged over 16 who are permitted to cross the border must be able to prove to South Australian authorities, upon request at any given time, that they have had a coronavirus test within the previous seven days. 

“This will have an impact on regional testing sites, where the priority is slowing the spread of symptomatic cases,” the Minister said.

She said the Victorian Government would continue to advocate on behalf of border communities to manage impacts associated with the border closures put in place by the NSW and South Australian governments.

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