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If you’re reading this, the chances are that you’ve arrived in Australia on your first working holiday visa, fallen in love with the place and wondering how you can spend more time in this amazing country. If the idea of heading home after a year in Oz scares you, luckily there is a way to stay for another year: the Second working holiday visa. To obtain your 2nd year visa, you’ll need to complete 3  calendar months (or 88 days on and off) working in a designated regional area doing what the department of immigration class as ‘Specified work.’

Most backpackers work on farms, fruit picking and packing, carrying out general farm work or mustering cattle. You can also carry out construction or mining work or volunteer with programs such as WWOOF (Willing workers on organic farms), where you work approximately 4-6 hours per day in exchange for food and accommodation. Volunteering has been a popular way for backpackers to gain their 2nd year visa: it’s a great way to learn the skills necessary to work on a farm and with lots of casual short term jobs with host families available, it’s a great way to travel around while you work.

Second Year Visa Changes

Despite the popularity in backpackers volunteering to gain their 2nd year visa, on the 1st May 2015 the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, announced that soon, volunteer work will no longer count towards 2nd working holiday visa extensions. This means that any work done through the WWOOFing association or any unpaid regional work will no longer be counted towards the 3 months or 88 days work needed to apply for your visa.

Minister Cash said the changes address a concern that some employers are exploiting the second Working Holiday visa initiative by encouraging Working Holiday visa holders to work for less than the minimum wage. He said, “The current arrangements can provide a perverse incentive for visa holders to agree to less than acceptable conditions in order to secure another visa.”

The department of immigration are now in the process of implementing the changes to the 2nd year visa that are said to be ‘phased in’ over the next few months however no official date has been set for the changes. To keep up to date with these changes, we would suggest keeping an eye on information posted on the WWOOF site.

How will the changes affect you?

Those seeking to apply for a second Working Holiday visa will be asked to produce an official payslip from their employer, demonstrating they have completed their regional work component. If you’re currently doing volunteer work to gain your visa extension, our advice is to bear in mind that you may need to complete paid regional work to make up the 88 days needed before applying for your 2nd year visa. These changes won’t impact on current visa applications.

If you wish to apply for a second working holiday visa and you’re looking for your farm work, take a look at our Guide to Farm Work in Australia. It has everything you need to know about the when, where and why!

For more information regarding 2nd year visas check out our website, Travellers at Work. Completed your regional work and need to claim your tax back? We recommend registering with Taxback.com now to avoid the rush at the end of the tax year in June!

Now that we’ve answered all of your questions concerning your regional work, it is time to help you try and find some work!

There are many options for your regional work but by far the most popular is the farming route.

If you are a skilled construction worker, that could definitely be an option for you but you will need a white card before you can get on a building site. Building work can also be a little bit sporadic so remember it is only the days you work that count if you aren’t working full-time hours.

Firstly, take a look at the Ultimate Outback Ranch package which gives you training as well as access to a host of job contacts across Australia!

The Outback Ranch course is an amazing experience that allows you to learn the ropes of farm work so that you become more attractive to employers looking for station hands.

You learn how to herd livestock, there are riding classes, lassoing and sheep shearing plus much more!

Next, you have a membership for TAW. If you arrive in Australia on one of our Ultimate adventures then you are likely to have a TAW membership included in your costs (check specific packages for more details).

TAW (or Travellers at Work) is an online job agency specifically designed for backpackers. They share an office with us at UltimateOz and are experts at finding work for backpackers in Australia!

Everything with TAW is online so head to the website to check out the jobs list before you become a member – you’ll see that there are lots of jobs all over the country and they are updated each day so make sure you keep checking the site!

Our awesome TAW representative can help you build a successful CV and cover letter and can help guide you on all things regional work (or any kind of work) related. As our site is built for backpackers, many farmers and regional employers use the site regularly to find workers so keep your eyes peeled and get in touch with TAW if you have any, more specific questions!

There is also the Harvest Guide which you can pick up from or UltimateOz shop or download here. The Harvest Guide is a government run job seeking platform which can be of use when finding farm work.

It is a nationwide organisation but can also be used by Australian’s looking for work so you may find it more difficult to find work via the Harvest Guide than the backpacker-driven TAW. Worth a shot though!

Then there are other sites such as Gumtree which can also be used to source work. If you’ve spent time in Australia, you’re probably aware of the negative reviews surrounding Gumtree and these are true to an extent.

Be careful, don’t believe everything you read and try not to be an idiot and you should be fine with Gumtree! I’ve found work using the site and nobody tried to kidnap me while I was doing it so that’s got to be a bonus! Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!!

Word of mouth is probably the best way to find regional work in Australia! Stay in touch with people that are over here, strike up conversations in hostels and see what others have done. The best thing about this is that you’re talking to someone who’s actually worked where you are going and can give you the skinny on the area and the boss!

If you’ve got family or friends (even Facebook friends that you never talk to and are probably on the way out in the next friend cull) get in touch with them and see where they did the regional work! Chances are, if they spent a lot of time there then they either loved the work, the place or the people and the feelings are probably mutual!

If you fancy a more holistic approach to the whole farm work idea and don’t want to be chasing wages WWOOFing is for you.

As a Willing Worker On an Organic Farm, you are not paid for your work but are given room and board in return for your graft. It sounds a bit rubbish but it can be really fun and the people you work with are probably going to be nicer than the average farmer because they know you aren’t getting paid.

To become a WWOOFer, you first need to buy a WWOOF book so come to the UltimateOz office and we can sort you out! The WWOOF book is full of contact details for farmers across Australia and also covers your insurance while you are working on each and every farm mentioned in the book.

Working hostels are probably the most common option for completing regional work and there are good and bad things to consider with these.

Firstly, if you’ve got the name of a working hostel do a quick Google search before you decide anything. If people are going online it is more than likely that they want to moan (no-one is bothered about writing good reviews) so bear that in mind but if there are hundreds of negative comments maybe think twice about going!

Working hostels are a great way to meet backpackers in the same situation as you, looking to get their regional work sorted and get on with their time in Australia and can be fun places to stay whilst completing some pretty boring work.

These hostels organise the work for you with farmers in the area and organise transport and accommodation and take a cut of your weekly wage.

One thing to remember with all aspects of regional work – seasons change. If you are looking at the farm side of regional work then bear in mind that crops come and go and the harvest moves right the way across and around Australia. The Harvest Guide has a great seasonal calendar which gives you an idea on what if going on in each area at what time which can help you stay ahead of the curve when it comes to seasonality.

If you are looking for construction work (the second most popular option) take a look here to book onto a white card course. A white card course gives you the health and safety training that you need to work on any building site in Australia. IF you want to come to the UltimateOZ shop or get in touch with us, we can chat through all the options available.

There are many ways to find farm work for your second year visa. The important thing to remember is that you’ve got to find the work! Don’t sit back and wait for it to come to you, use as many options as you can and get ready for your time in the Outback!

If you are in Australia on a 417 working holiday visa (the majority of European nations) then it is highly likely that you are able to complete 3 months of regional, specified work to gain another 12 month visa to stay in Australia!

Awesome!

We get a lot of questions about all things regional work and wanted to lay out some of the most common ones so that people everywhere could brush up on their knowledge!

If you want to extend your stay in Australia, this is the way to do it as you can apply for the 417 visa again after you’ve completed the work. Who wouldn’t want an extra 12 months in this amazing country!?

So, without further ado, we’ll get down to brass tacks and answer some questions on regional work in Australia!

Where is Regional Australia?

Basically, imagine a bubble around Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. As long as you aren’t working within that bubble, you are in regional Australia.

The Department of Immigration gives you a handy list of all the areas that fall under regional Australia here. Make sure you check back to see if the list has been updated before you head out to your post-code of choice to complete your work.

If you complete any work in an unspecified area, even if it is specified work, it does not count as part of your regional work for a second year visa. The work has to be done in an area outlined by the Department of Immigration and in an industry specified by the Department too.

What is Specified Work?

There are five main areas of specified work, outlined by the Department of Immigration – Agriculture, Construction, Forestry and Tree Felling, Fishing and Pearling, and Mining.

If your job falls under any of these sections then you may be completing specified work. Bear in mind that all roles within these industries do not count as specified work. If you are a cook on a mine or a child-minder on a cattle station, for example, you are not completing specified work.

Do I have to do three months straight or can I break it up?

You can do either – if you want to hammer out three months straight then go for it but if you want to break up the work, travel around a little bit then that’s fine too.

Just make sure that each stop along the way is in one of the regional postcodes and counts as specified work. If you aren’t sure, get in touch with the Department of Immigration directly and they should be able to help you out.

If you do decide to break up your three months then it becomes a countdown of 88 days worked. If you opt to go for three months straight and start tomorrow, you finish in three months from that first date worked.

What Does Getting Signed Off Mean?

If you’ve spent any time in an Australian hostel, anywhere in the country, chances are you’ve heard the phrase signed off when talking about regional work. Well, what does it mean?

Put simply, when you are completing your regional work, you can download and print a government form to prove you are actually doing the work which your farmer or employer then signs for you.

The form is really straight forward and gives you a lot of handy information that can help you when you decide to do your regional work so it is definitely worth a look over and make sure that you print one off before you head to your first regional destination.

If you are already at the farm and haven’t got a form printed – don’t fret! You need to be able to prove your time living and working in regional areas so any kind of evidence helps. Whether it is a receipt from the local pub, travel tickets, bank statements that show ‘Bob’s Bananas’ has been paying you once a week for the last six weeks – everything counts as evidence.

The government form is the best kind of evidence as the farmer signs an official document. If you can’t get this document, try and get your boss to write you a bit of a reference with the dates you started and finished your regional work, the actual number of days you worked and make sure you get their Australian Business Number (ABN) as you will need this when applying for your next visa!

Actual Number of Days? What’s that? Do Weekends Count?

Actual number of days is just a posh way of asking how long you were at each regional stop you took. If you work full-time hours for the industry you are in (more than likely 40 hours a week plus, spread over five or six days) then, yes weekends do count against your total.

If you do spread out your regional work, completing a couple of weeks here and there throughout your first year in Australia then the actual number of days will become important to you. Then you are on the quest for 88 days! If you work full-time hours, Monday to Friday on a pecan farm in a regional postcode then Saturday and Sunday are included off your 88 days.

If you work Monday, Wednesday and Friday for a construction firm in Darwin then you only tick off three days from your 88.

If you work a double shift on the same day, that still only counts as one day worked so don’t be fooled into thinking if you smash out loads of hours in three days then take the next five off that they are covered in your 88!

Is There Any Way Around the Regional Work?

Legally, no there isn’t. Unless you can get sponsored by a company or the state to keep you in Australia for an extended period – the farm work is your only hope.

Don’t worry too much about it, you may hear some horror stories but it isn’t that bad. You may even enjoy the work or seeing a new side to Australia!

What Happens When I’ve Finished My Three Months Work?

If you’re anything like me, you get absolutely hammered and head for the nearest city as soon as possible!

In all seriousness, once you have finished your regional work it is time to get your second year visa!

You’ve got two options really, if you want to stay in Australia for another twelve months right after your first twelve months end you apply for your visa while you are still in Australia. You apply for your visa online so make sure you have all the documents and evidence you need before proceeding with your application.

You’re going to need an ABN number for each company you worked for, the postcode you worked in, how long you were at each place and the actual number of days you worked on each place. Once you fill out the online form, you send it to the Department of Immigration who check over it and will get back to you in the next couple of days with more information.

More often than not, the government will ok your application and your visa will start as soon as your old one ends. If the government require more evidence of your regional work then they’ll give you an address to send everything too (make sure you get photocopies before you send anything) and you will go from there.

As long as you did your farm work, you’ll have nothing to worry about. If you try and get around the system, you’re probably going to get caught and deported and you won’t be allowed back in Australia for the foreseeable future.

If you want to go home first, go and travel somewhere else or just want a break from Australia, you can apply for your visa outside of the country but you have to be outside of the country when your visa is issued. If you do this option, it is more likely that you’ll face a little bit more scrutiny than carrying over your visa so make sure you have all your evidence with you when you submit your application but also when you arrive back in Australia to start your second year.

Remember, you have to be back in Australia before you turn 31 or your visa is no longer valid. The same rules apply to your second visa as did with your first.

During my Second Year, Can I do More Farm Work for Another Visa?

No. You can do more farm work if you loved it and want to get paid to do it but you won’t be able to apply for another visa if you’ve already done it once.

Tell me your horror stories!!

Having completed my regional work, I can tell you that it wasn’t for me. I’ve met people who absolutely loved their time in regional Australia but I’m a city boy at heart and always will be!

That isn’t to say I didn’t have fun, it just wasn’t my idea of the best time in Australia! I spread my regional work over a six month period and stayed in New South Wales to complete the lot even though it is more common to head to Queensland to get the work done.

I started on a vineyard, moved onto a horse racing stud and then finished on a cattle farm – and I’d probably rank them in reverse order. The work, the people and the places got better as they went along and I ended up really enjoying my time on the cattle farm!

The vineyard was awful but that had more to do with the people than anything else (honestly, the worst people I’ve ever met so I reckon that was more unlucky than a state of things to come).

The stud was really interesting as I know nothing about horses but can now tell you a fair bit about the process of breeding race horses and the cattle farm taught me everything I’ll ever need to know about Angus beef!

You’ll see spiders, probably snakes and more weird Australian’s than you’ll know what to do with but it is definitely an experience! It isn’t something I’d rush back to but it gets you another visa and that’s all that really mattered to me.

I did some WWOOFing and it was great if you can find the right host family but I’d keep it as a last resort if you are running out of time to complete your farm work or already have enough money saved up from working in the city or from home. If you love the idea of organic farming and organic produce then it is definitely something to check out though.

A lot of people have the misguided idea that by doing their farm work they will earn a fortune. This isn’t always the case and farm work can be quite difficult to find. If you don’t put the work in and just sit around waiting for something to happen, there are another million backpackers out there that will do your job instead.

The regional work is a good way to save because there is nothing you can spend your money on but don’t turn your nose up because you are expecting $700 a week with your accommodation and food included because some guy from Birmingham told you about it at Side Bar.

At the end of it all, you are doing this for the visa so keep that in mind. It is another 12 months in a country that you obviously love (or more importantly, away from a country that you don’t) and as long as you can keep the end goal in sight you’ll be fine!