WA workers sent out yonder, but where will they live?

Housing crisis: The State government wants workers to head south... but where will they live? Photo: Labour Solutions Margaret River

Housing crisis: The State government wants workers to head south... but where will they live? Photo: Labour Solutions Margaret River

A new campaign has been launched to encourage young Western Australians to embark on employment in the State's regions, but there are concerns over whether some regions are equipped to accept an influx of residents.

The McGowan Government launched the 'Work and Wander out Yonder' campaign on Thursday, promoting local jobs in agriculture, tourism and hospitality throughout regional WA.

"There are literally thousands of different jobs available right now in the regions, and this campaign will help those positions be filled with local workers or anyone currently in WA," Premier Mark McGowan said in support of the program.

"Whether it is school leavers, people finishing university or TAFE, or those just looking for work - embrace this opportunity to explore WA while having a remarkable experience.

"This year, young Western Australians have a unique opportunity to be backpackers in their home State. We can't travel overseas, but there is the chance to have a once-in-a-lifetime working holiday here in WA."

But with housing shortages at their worst and countless requests for both locals and incoming residents seeking housing, Vasse MLA Libby Mettam says the plan has not been properly considered.

"I have written to the Premier on behalf of industry given they are facing significant shortages across the agricultural and tourism industries," Ms Mettam told the Mail.

Housing crisis: The State government wants workers to head south... but where will they live? Photo: Labour Solutions Margaret River

Housing crisis: The State government wants workers to head south... but where will they live? Photo: Labour Solutions Margaret River

"This proposed advertising campaign falls well short of supporting skilled workers in our $10bill agricultural sector and our tourism industry.

"We are hearing from farmers who can't shear their sheep, crops that are being drastically reduced, which has the potential to impact food prices.

"The south west area is experiencing an increase in demand for housing which is putting pressure on rental availability. This initiative has not been properly thought through and it is up to State government to offer a solution in order for this to be effective."

At the time of publication, there was just one property advertised online for rent in the Margaret River region, at a weekly rate of $465. Just one rental was available in Dunsborough, with six advertised in the greater Busselton region.

A previous effort by Margaret River's Labour Solutions to bring workers to the region from Tasmania to assist with crucial vine management saw the business book out a local tourist park to house their employees.

Regional Development and Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said details of a regional worker incentive scheme would soon be released, but did not respond to requests for more information on how the accommodation shortage would be addressed.

As part of the scheme, the McGowan government said accommodation and travel support would be provided for people moving to the regions for agricultural work.

"The scheme acknowledges the difficulties faced in recruiting and retaining seasonal agricultural workers as part of an immediate response, while the State Government advocates for the Commonwealth to do more to support the sector and incentivise the uptake of horticulture and agriculture opportunities."

TheAustralian Hotels Association WA welcomed the announcement.

"The significant challenges COVID-19 has presented WA's hospitality industry have been compounded by an alarming shortage of skilled workers in regional areas," chief executive Bradley Woods said.

"This campaign is a welcome step in the right direction and aims to highlight the appealing career paths and short term work opportunities that exist in WA's most sought after holiday destinations."

"Intrastate tourism is currently booming as a result of the successful Wander out Yonder campaign but in order to maximise this success it is essential that businesses are able to source the workers they require," he said.