Australia’s Seasonal Worker Program (SWP)

The Seasonal Workers Program or SWP is known as the Australian program that provides short term employment under the Labour Mobility Program. The term of employment under this program is 9 months maximum around the sector of Horticulture and Viticulture, Hospitality and Poultry farm.

The Seasonal Workers program started in 2009 with a pilot and in August 2012 the signing of the MOU to fully engage in the program and September 2015 another signing for the expansion for SWP including removing the annual limit on the number of seasonal workers who can participate, and expanding the program to the agriculture industry and the Hospitality industry in selected locations. 

There are two types of recruitment provided under the Seasonal Employment Act of 2007 (SEA no of 2007) and that is through (1) local Agents and (2) Direct Recruitment – where employer come to Vanuatu and directly involve in recruitment.


The Department of Labour (DoL) through its Employment Services Unit (ESU) has developed a sound and vibrant partnership with other stakeholders in order to effectively carried out its duty.

DoL ties solid partnership with the following stakeholders who are directly involved with SWP program:

  1. DFAT: The Government of Australia has successfully fund the new Department of Labour and Employment Services in the amount of 64 million Vatu. The new DOL office is due to be completed in May/June 2021. The new DOL building will accommodate a new training facility to enable the pre-departure briefings of seasonal workers.
  2. Ministry of Agriculture: DOL and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (“DARD”) have been working together to develop the Agriculture reintegration framework for return Seasonal Workers. The framework will look into how the DARD better supports our workers when they return back to Vanuatu. The Launching of this Framework is scheduled to happen on the 30th of April 2021 and it will be celebrated on the eve of Labour Day, an opportunity to commemorate the International Labour Day.
  3. V-Lab: We also collaborate with V-Lab on the Seasonal Workers Reintegration program. This program is to find workers with good business and innovative ideas and how to support them with their ideas. The support required will be around mentoring, coaching and financial support. This program was launched on 7 April 2021 and is targeting return seasonal workers to be able to invest their income in Businesses that can support and sustain their families in the long run. DFAT and MFAT have funded the program and is piloted in the province of Shefa. We are anticipating that the program will be decentralized to other provinces in the future once VLAB established their branches in those respective provinces.
  4. World Vision: We have collaboration with world vision for Cash for work program. This program seeks to help at least 20 workers from Santo and Port Vila who have not been able to travel to New Zealand and Australia due to Covid 19 and the lock down in Vanuatu. The goal of this program is to provide temporary employment to seasonal workers and support their families while stranded in Vanuatu.

We have also engaged stakeholders and partners in the Pre-Departure Briefing to better prepare our workers prior to departure. There are the following:

  1. Department of Customs and inland Revenue
  2. Department of Biosecurity
  3. Department of Foreign Affairs
  4. ANZ Bank
  5. Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD)

Eligibility requirements

Anyone wishes to apply for the Seasonal Workers Program can apply directly to the local approved agents and the requirements are as follow;

  • Must be 21 years or more
  • No medical condition – Fit and healthy and must pass medical check
  • Must have a valid Police Clearance

The contact details for the SWP agents can be downloaded here.