Did you know that, in NSW, female backpackers are filling labour shortages in the sheep shearing industry caused by the exodus of young regional men, many off to work in the mining sector?
SMH reports that foreign girls – from Germany, Sweden, Denmark – are making a good living – $1,000 a week, with free room, board and five square meals a day.
They are working as rouseabouts, penning or catching the sheep and cleaning the wool for the wool classer.
24 year old German backpacker, Vanessa Heep had been travelling around Australia for two years on a working holiday visa when she ‘fell into working on sheep shearing stations’ and now does many of the jobs once done by young, Australian men. She says:
“There’s something about the freedom, the friendships and working together that make it kind of unique..There’s also the 48-degree heat..”
Vanessa likes the life so much she has applied for a 457 visa to stay on.
Julia Gillard says she wants to ‘stop foreign workers being put at the front of the queue with Australian workers at the back’ but:
“Most young people in rural Australia are going to the mines. It’s big money and the old farming industries can’t match it.”
Mick Taylor, a shearing contractor from Nyngan in central west NSW says:
“If we didn’t have backpackers, it would be even harder to work farms.”