On the 17th of February the Federal Government announced an initiative allowing volunteers in Bushfire Disaster areas to qualify for second and third Working Holiday visas.
WWOOF Australia has developed a Volunteer Bushfire Relief Form in consultation with Border Force, for registered WWOOFers to use for their visa extension application, as confirmation of the volunteer work they have done. Border Force have approved regular WWOOFing hours of 4 to 6 hours a day, maximum of 38 hours in any 7 days for this purpose. Registered WWOOF Australia Hosts need to fill this form in to confirm the TYPE of help they have had and the DATES the WWOOFer has stayed with them. Hosts must keep a copy of this form with their completed Guestbook page for each of these WWOOFers.
Please ensure both parties have read and completely understand what is required, this is an arrangement/agreement between the WWOOFers and Hosts NOT the WWOOF Office.
USERNAMES: This is the Username you created when you joined WWOOF Australia, if you are uncertain of these details please email the office firstname.lastname@example.org with the email address you used to create your account and we can confirm this for you.
The Guest Book Form should be filled in upon arrival by the WWOOFer and prior to any activity being started. The 88 days paperwork should be filled in with both parties present, both parties must agree to the activities and days completed, communication is a must, so please discuss everything together before you start. Once completed both parties must keep a copy.
The main criteria for this volunteer work is that it has something to do with bushfire recovery, this can include all aspects of getting your farm back on track. There are links at the bottom of the WWOOF volunteer form to Border force website and more information
Border force have also added extra types of construction work that will qualify as specified work:
Specified work in disaster affected areas
Construction work can be vital in helping regional disaster zones, such as those affected by flood or bushfire, to rebuild and recover from disaster. Working Holiday visa holders who conduct construction work in eligible regional areas of Australia following disasters can count the work as specified work.
Examples of construction work that qualify as specified work include:
- demolition of buildings, trench digging, land clearing and earth moving
- residential and non-residential construction or renovation/repair, including of roads, footpaths, bridges, parking lots, fencing, railways, dams, irrigation systems, sewage and storm water drainage systems.
HOW TO CALCULATE THE DAYS?
Great news for all backpackers! Immigration has finally updated their website and written the section “calculating the days” in a more understandable manner. This is what it says now in homeaffairs.gov.au about calculating the days:
” ‘Three months‘ of specified work means a period equivalent to three ‘calendar’ months, which is taken to be a minimum period of 88 calendar days, including weekends or equivalent rest days during your period of employment.
To meet the three months specified work requirement you must actually work for the same number of days that a full-time employee would normally work in a three month (88 calendar day) period. You can do this in a variety of ways, for example:
- working five days a week for a continuous period of three calendar months,
- working less than five days a week over a period longer than three calendar months,
- working multiple short periods of work in any combination of full time, which add up to the equivalent of five days a week over three calendar months.
You do not need to do your three months’ specified work all in one go, or all with one Host. You are free to spread the work over the period of your stay in Australia. You can also work for longer than the required minimum of three months.
You cannot complete your specified work requirement in a total period less than three calendar months.
HOURS OF WORK PER DAY
You should agree with your employer the number of working hours, before you start work.
One single day of work is considered to be the normal number of hours per day (or per shift) that is considered standard practice in the industry and role in which you are employed.
Note: If you are working on a piecework rate the number of hours can depend on the weather and ripening of crops.”
Source: homeaffairs.gov.au , retrieved 10 Sep 2018
So, long story short: If your work time is considered as a full time in the field you are working you can count the weekends towards the 88 days work. For example, working 8 hours a day for 5 days a week can be counted as 7 visa days.