Backpackers call for visa extension

Backpackers in the hospitality industry want the same visa rights as regional workers

Working in Australia is as popular as ever and it's one of the things to do on a gap year. Backpackers and travellers often work in rural areas of Australia to further fund their travels and to qualify for a second working holiday visa. However, certain jobs are exempt, such as bar work, and there have been cries for changes to be made to the rules and regulations of working holiday visas in Australia for a number of years now.

Gemma Richardson, from the UK, is one such backpacker who would like to see changes made to working holiday visas. She is currently working at Coonamble's Bucking Bull Hotel, an area of Australia rarely seen by backpackers and tourists.

She is among thousands of backpackers each year who cannot lengthen their stay in Australia due to the fact that the hospitality industry is excluded from the working holiday scheme.

The Australian government is under pressure to allow foreign workers in regional restaurants, pubs and motels the same one-year visa extension as those in other industries. The call for changes comes after a paper was published that found the move would inject at least AU$225 million into the economy over the next 10 years.

Gemma said: "If you could get a visa extension by working in a pub, everyone would come for jobs like that."

According to statistics, in 2010-11, about 22,500 young backpackers and travellers converted to a second year of their working holiday visa after spending three months working in regional farming, mining or construction jobs.

What do you think gappers - would you prefer to work in a pub or bar instead of other regional work like fruit picking? Do you think these visa changes would attract more backpackers on a gap year to work in Australia?

If you're travelling to Australia on a gap year then head to our Australia country section for more advice and information. Also, make sure you check out our guide to working in Australia and Louise Denton's guide to Australia.

Photo by Jan Smith via (Creative Commons)