Regional Businesses Desperate For Employees

Many businesses like pubs and hotels in regional WA are struggling to stay open without backpackers to fill casual positions. Small country towns rely on backpackers to staff hotels, pick fruit or help with harvest during the busy months. However, WA’s hard border shut down for the foreseeable future has meant there are not enough international workers to fill the positions. Before travel restrictions were introduced there were 140,000 backpackers in Australia, now there are only 85,000.

Regional businesses such as The Carnarvon Hotel have reported recent growth with WA residents travelling intrastate for their holidays. This has led to more positions opening to keep up with demand.  Hotel owner Helen Newby says the situation is “worrying because I can’t find enough staff to help run my bustling business”. “I’m advertising for chefs, I’m advertising for bar staff, housekeepers — you can’t get them,” she said.

Other country hotels are having similar problems, The Perenjori Hotel owner concedes they may “have to drop accommodation [side of the business] if we’re not able to have staff to help service the rooms ”. Closing the accommodation side of the business would be a blow to the Perenjori Hotel with the usually busy wildflower season approaching.

Regional business owners remark it would be helpful if overseas workers could qualify for a second-year visa to work at regional businesses and in agricultural jobs. Another change that would help regional business owners is bringing unemployed people from the Perth metro area to work in regional WA. “JobKeeper and JobSeeker offered no incentive for West Australians to look for work in the regions,” says Perenjori Hotel owner Mr Kohl.

The Department of Home Affairs said travellers working in critical sectors like health, aged care, agriculture, and food processing were exempt from six-month limitations on working with one employer. The State Government says it is working with industry bodies to ensure labour and skill needs are met in agriculture and horticulture while supporting Western Australians looking for work.

Having the correct HR documentation for new staff members is important. If your business requires assistance determining pay rates, writing employment contracts, or interpreting awards for new staff contact ProcessWorx on (08) 9316 9896 or

To keep up to date with the latest farm HR and safety updates follow @ProcessWorx on LinkedInFacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Written by Danielle McNamee


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Marisa Ross

HR Advisor

Marisa is an experienced and motivated HR professional with a strong HR generalist and business operations background with a focus on employee relations, performance management, leadership training & development, workers compensation & injury management, and employee retention. Marisa holds a Bachelor of Human Resource Management and a Bachelor of Behavioural Science with a minor in Counselling. Having worked in a variety of industries from SMEs to large blue-chip organisations, Marisa is passionate about enriching employee experience, employee retention, and building leadership capability in people management.

Aimee Grigson

Aimee Grigson

WHS Advisor

Aimee has a strong understanding of Workplace Health and Safety Legislation and standards and has extensive HSEQ experience in a number of industries. Aimee has a great ability to engage across all levels of organisation, including field teams, leadership and external stakeholders. Aimee ensures Health and Safety Management Systems are compliant to legislation, effectively implemented and understood by all. Aimee has a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety and qualifications in auditing and incident investigations. Aimee is passionate about coaching and developing small businesses towards a positive safety culture.