COVID-19 Pandemic information
Toolkit for WWOOF Hosts and WWOOFers to ensure safety whilst WWOOFing.
Each State in Australia has different levels of restriction at different times, many state borders are closed.
For up to date information on Border closures and permits required, see: interstatequarantine.org.au/state-and-territory-border-closures/
Farms are essential businesses and farmers are essential workers
WWOOF Australia requested definitive information for Hosts and WWOOFers regarding the legality of WWOOFers traveling to and staying with Hosts. This letter is the response from the Minister for Agriculture.
Non-essential travel is not allowed in areas under lockdown restrictions, so it is important to keep up with the latest information on which areas are under lockdown, the specific level of restrictions in the area you are in or plan to go to and which state borders are closed. There are large fines for crossing closed borders without a permit, or for breaching lockdown conditions. Please do not leave a lockdown area to travel to a WWOOF Host without first self- isolating for 14 days and taking all necessary precautions on route.
In states where there are few or no cases of COVID-19, social distancing and hand sanitizing practices continue to be strongly recommended.
If you are in a State or area that is under strict lockdown restrictions, you will need to follow the current rules for the lockdown in your area.
WWOOF Australia understands that WWOOF hosts in lockdown areas may currently have WWOOFers or be actively welcoming WWOOFers. We are asking hosts to allow WWOOFers to shelter in place on arrival, practice physical distancing and self-quarantine, as necessary.
WWOOFers are seeking ways to participate in a meaningful way on organic farms, learn to grow their own food, and live more sustainable lives, now more than ever. If you are not a member yet and want to take a look at the kinds of WWOOFing opportunities available, or want to learn more about farm availability, please see the List Search to see the basic profiles of WWOOF Hosts. WWOOF Members can also use the Map search and WWOOF Noticeboard for Hosts urgently looking for WWOOFers.
Join WWOOF and set up your own WWOOFer Volunteer Profile if you wish to contact host farmers. Please discuss any concerns you have with hosts or WWOOFers before arrival.
With travel restrictions changing daily, it is advisable to keep updated regarding the situation in Australia by referring to the https://www.australia.gov.au/ page and we ask that you stay in compliance with all local, state and federal rules.
We thank you for all you are doing to help support farmers and travellers safely, build strong communities and help grow a more sustainable future.
Please contact WWOOF Australia with any questions, or call us on 0455 023 173 during office hours.
19th of August Update
NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said new exemptions would allow critical agricultural employees to pass across the border for work — regardless of whether they lived in the border bubble or not — although it is limited to a distance of 100 kilometres north of the border. Bushfire Recovery workers are included in the list of critical workers.
Please use WWOOF Australia’s Bushfire Recovery Certification documentation which is required to cross the Victorian border into NSW. Bushfire Relief Workers will need to also apply for a ‘Highly Specialised Critical Services (Agriculture) Permit‘ through Service NSW. This WWOOF Certificate and the Permit must be presented at the border with photo ID.
10th of September Update
Melbourne is under Stage 4 Restrictions & Regional Victoria is under Stage 3 Restrictions and Permits must be issued to allow WWOOFers to travel to Commercial WWOOF Hosts, with an ABN.
For information about permitted workplaces in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector operating under Victoria’s stage 4 restrictions see: Agriculture forestry & fishing restrictions COVID-19
Employers who require staff to attend a permitted workplace must issue an individual worker permit to their employees. Visit the Permitted Worker Scheme and worker permits page to find out more information and for the Permit form to fill in for WWOOFers. The Permit must be signed by both the WWOOFer and Host and be presented on request when travelling to a Host Property. There are large fines for travelling without a permit, see below.
Employers can issue a worker permit to their employee if:
- the organisation is on the list of permitted activities see: Agriculture forestry & fishing restrictions COVID-19
- the employee is working in an approved category for on-site work, and
- the employee cannot work from home.
An employee must not use a worker permit, even if they have been issued one, if:
- they test positive to coronavirus (COVID-19) and are required to self-isolate
- they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive.
To issue a worker permit, employers will need:
- name, ABN, company address and trading name
- the name and date of birth of the employee
- the employee’s regular hours and place of work
- to meet all eligibility criteria, including that the business is a permitted activity
- to meet all relevant legal obligations
- to have a COVIDSafe Plan in place
- to authorise a person or people to issue the worker permit.
Please make sure you read all of this information before completing and using the Permit as large fines will be issued if you travel to a WWOOF Host without a Permit.
Penalties of up to $19,826 (for individuals) and $99,132 (for businesses) will apply to employers who issue worker permits to employees who do not meet the requirements of the worker permit scheme or who otherwise breach the scheme requirements.
There are on-the-spot fines of up to $1,652 (for individuals) and up to $9,913 (for businesses) for anyone who breaches the scheme requirements. This includes employers and employees who do not carry their worker permit when travelling to and from work.
WWOOFers COVID-19 Toolkit
Each farm is unique and WWOOFers should assess the best way to stay safe given those circumstances. Below are some examples of the recommended health and safety precautions to safely visit WWOOF hosts at this time.:
- WWOOFers should not travel if feeling symptomatic or ill.
- WWOOFers should bring their own hand sanitiser, gloves and masks.
- Practice recommended hygiene practices and social distancing.
- WWOOFers should practice physical distancing/self-isolation for two weeks prior to their departure for the farm and while on route to the host property,
- Upon arrival at the farm, WWOOFers should stay in separate accommodation and make their own meals for two weeks in order to practice physical distancing/self-isolation.
- Only engage with Hosts outdoors on the farm while practicing physical distancing for the first two weeks of their stay.
- After the first 2 weeks WWOOFing can resume as normal, while continuing to exercise good hygiene and social distancing practices.
- Make this time fun! Send us a video or photos of your creative ideas to make social distancing work for you and we will share the best ones here and on Facebook!
- WWOOF recommends that WWOOFers stay on the farm if possible, to avoid any non-essential travel.
- We encourage WWOOFers opt for long term stays to limit WWOOFer turnover & travel.
The following information is from the Department of Agriculture website:
Working Holiday Makers (WHMs) who work in agriculture or food processing will be:
- exempt from the 6-month limit on work with the 1 employer
- eligible for a further visa to keep working in these critical sectors if their current visa is due to expire in the next 6 months.
Meeting workforce principles
- All visa holders must meet all current state and territory requirements. These cover self-isolation, social distancing, hygiene and appropriate accommodation.
WWOOF Host COVID-19 Toolkit
- Hosts should not invite WWOOFers to stay if feeling symptomatic or ill, or if they have vulnerable family members who may be put at serious risk.
- Provide separate accommodation and meal preparation area and food for WWOOFers for two weeks in order to practice physical distancing.
- Try to create a pleasant area where WWOOFers can spend their free time while isolating, offer some suggestions for walks on the property,
- Provide magazines, organic farming/gardening books or magazines,DVDs, board games, cards etc.
- Ensure hand sanitiser, gloves and masks are available for WWOOFers.
- Make sure your WWOOFers understand how they can contact you if they have any concerns or questions.
- Prepare a folder with information for your WWOOFers to welcome them on arrival, be sure to include emergency contact information and any local information you feel would assist them to feel at home. This can be an incredibly stressful time for travellers, so making them feel safe and welcome on arrival can set the tone for a wonderful, if challenging, experience.
- Only engage with WWOOFers outdoors on the farm while practicing physical distancing for the first two weeks of their stay.
- Be creative and make this time fun, play charades and use other methods of communication, such as facetime, messaging etc. Be connected, but distant!
- Make a video or take photos of any great ideas and share them with us, we will share the best ideas here and on Facebook.
- Set up a list of tasks for WWOOFers that you can email or message to your WWOOFers, be creative! Use a whiteboard or blackboard.
- After the first 2 weeks WWOOFing can resume as normal, however it remains important to exercise good hygiene and social distancing practices.
- We encourage both Hosts to opt for long term stays to limit WWOOFer turnover & travel.
The following information is from the Department of Agriculture website:
Work safety for farmers and agricultural workers
- Agricultural workers often work and eat, and sometimes live, close to each other. This can increase their risk of exposure to COVID-19.
- Employers must take care of the health and safety of their workers and others at the workplace. This includes putting in place control measures to minimise the spread of COVID-19.
- You must put in place these control measures, even if they result in delays to your production.
See how farmers and agricultural workers can minimise the risk from COVID-19 (Safe Work Australia
Useful COVID-19 Links
The Department of Home Affairs provides the following information for visa holders:
- Staying in Australia during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
COVID-19 Pandemic information
- World Health Organization(WHO)
- Which Australian state borders are closed now & individual state restricions information
- Tourism Australia Information for Travellers and Australians com/en/travel-alerts/coronavirus
- Australian Government Department of Health. has a Series of Coronavirus Resources including the following:
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Resources
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Social Distancing
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Information for Travellers
- Coronavirus COVID-19 – Information for International Travellers
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Isolation guidance
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Information about returning to your community
If you are concerned you can call the National Coronavirus Helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week.1800 020 080 for information and advice about COVID-19. If you require translating or interpreting services, call 131 450.
Travel restrictions affecting WWOOFers who are not yet in Australia
Australia’s international borders are currently closed to international travellers and visas are not being issued. There may be phased international travel allowed in 2021, with all arriving travellers being taken directly to Government mandated hotels for 14 days quarantine at the traveller’s expense, approximately AUD $3000 per person. This situation is changing constantly depending on the situation with the pandemic.
WWOOF Australia honours the ongoing cultural and spiritual connections, heritage, customs and beliefs of Aboriginal people, and pays respect to Elders past and present.