Include volunteer work activities, such as Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF), in the eligibility framework for the second Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa.
This petition had 5,544 supporters
WWOOF Australia is launching this petition to enable WWOOF Hosts and WWOOF volunteers to ask the Immigration Minister to allow volunteering to continue as an eligible activity for the 2nd year Working Holiday Visa.
This is essential for the viability of hundreds of small organic farms throughout rural Australia. The impending change will negatively impact thousands of overseas visitors wishing to volunteer on these farms.
Most WWOOF Hosts own small Organic Farms which host travellers (WWOOFers) from all over the world who wish to volunteer on their farms and learn about organic growing and production methods. WWOOF is a cultural exchange of mutual respect and learning. Most WWOOFers live with their Host family and are treated as part of the family, being taken to local attractions and events in local communities. See WWOOF Testimonials for feedback about WWOOF.
No money changes hands. WWOOFers are provided with all of their meals and accommodation in exchange for their voluntary work regardless of their level of skill, unlike a paid position where they must achieve a level of productivity in order to be paid. Most WWOOFers are unskilled and many find that they cannot find paid work so WWOOFing enables them to complete their 88 days while they gain skills to make them more employable.
We do not think that WWOOF Hosts should be treated in the same way as large agribusinesses that exploit overseas visitors. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection Press Release states – “the majority of operators are doing the right thing”. The actions of a small minority could lead to devastating consequences for the vast majority of people who are doing the right thing.
Volunteer farm work cannot be exploitative as the volunteers can leave at any time, negating the possibility of the type of abuse found with Labour Hire Contractors. WWOOF Australia has a Complaints Procedure in place so we can mediate if problems arise and remove Hosts from the WWOOF Program if they are found to be doing anything inappropriate.
We implore you to consider other measures to “Strengthen the Integrity of the Working Holiday visa Program” to allow volunteer work to continue to count towards the 88 days needed to apply for the visa extension. As all applicants will need to provide pay slips in future, a Department approved volunteer log could be signed off each week by Hosts and their WWOOFers, either on-line or on paper, to replace pay slips for volunteers.
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WWOOF Pty Ltd needs your help with “Peter Dutton, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash : Include volunteer work activities, such as WWOOF, in the eligibility for 2nd Working Holiday Visas”. Join WWOOF Pty Ltd and 5,543 supporters today.