Growcom column: Fair farms goes national

WORKSHOPS: Growcom will host workshops in the NT to help growers understand their legal obligations in the horticulture sector.
WORKSHOPS: Growcom will host workshops in the NT to help growers understand their legal obligations in the horticulture sector.

THIS week Growcom kicks off the first in its series of free workshops under the Fair Farms Initiative in the Northern Territory and in Western Australia.

The farm visits and workshops are designed to help growers understand their legal obligations and ensure their workers are treated fairly on fruit, vegetable and nut farms.

The workshops in Katherine, Darwin and Kununurra have been facilitated in partnership with the NT Farmers Association and the Australian Mango Industry Association.

This program is a significant first step in the initiative's goal to provide production horticulture growers with tools to comply with workplace legislation to protect their workers and avoid fines throughout Australia.

The horticulture industry is characterised by having a high dependence on seasonal workers, many of them on migrant visas.

Managing the seasonal workforce and ensuring workers are paid and treated appropriately can be complicated.

Growcom has worked for many years delivering workshops to Queensland growers and is pleased to have the opportunity to take our expertise to other states and work with local industry organisations.

In the most recent round of Workplace Essentials workshops, we worked with more than 200 growers throughout Queensland, many of whom said it was the best workshop they had attended all year.

The reputation of our workplace relations staff has been recognised and we are pleased that the Kununurra growers proactively contacted us requesting a workshop in their region when they saw we were coming to the Northern Territory.

The Fair Farms Initiative, funded through the Fair Work Ombudsman's Community Engagement Grants program, is designed to not only ensure growers understand their legal obligations but is designed to lift standards across the sector and develop a beyond-compliance mentality.

As an industry, the actions of the few are continuing to tarnish the reputation of the many, and we need to ensure the good growers are rewarded and the bad employers are weeded out.

To achieve this, Growcom is working with Freshcare to develop a voluntary third-party audited certification scheme so growers can demonstrate to their customers that they are doing the right thing.

Topics:  farming growcom horticulture rural

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