The Margaret River Region’s key tourism, hospitality and wine industries are seasonal, with its workforce requirements increasing significantly during summer (peak tourism) and autumn (wine vintage).
Traditionally, industry has been able to supplement its permanent workforce with a seasonal workforce drawn from other parts of the State and across the country, as well as backpackers travelling through Australia, and workers sourced from overseas on temporary visas.
The pandemic and the associated restrictions on the movement of people challenged this tried-and-tested model of sourcing seasonal workers. Issues have been compounded by ongoing shortages of adequate and affordable accommodation.
It is expected that staff shortages will be exacerbated over the coming years as a number of new regional developments become operational, requiring an even larger seasonal workforce.
Industry continues to call for increased supply of affordable accommodation for seasonal workers, which is becoming a barrier for some businesses to securing enough transient workers.
Worker Accommodation Study
In 2022, MRBTA and MRWA, supported by Tourism WA and the SWDC commissioned ACIL Allen to undertake a preliminary assessment of the worker accommodation requirements in the region.
The study included an in-depth analysis of available economic and social data and was complemented by consultation with industry and government stakeholders.
The key findings of the study recognised:
- That one third of the 2000+ employing businesses in the region require access to a seasonal workforce. While these businesses are small in size they are large in numbers, which helps to demonstrate the extent to which difficulties in sourcing seasonal workers can impact on the region’s economy and the community more broadly.
- The region has continued to grow as an economic centre, backed by its diversified industry base. This has seen labour market conditions in the region outpace the broader labour market conditions across the state and tighten even further during peak tourism and harvesting seasons.
- The most recent data on rental vacancy rates highlight the broader challenges confronting the region in ensuring an adequate supply of housing for its growing economy. With vacancy rates effectively zero in the region, this has seen rents spike to be amongst the highest in the state.
- The accommodation shortages facing the region represents a long-term challenge that will be exacerbated in the coming years as a number of new developments progress to construction and then become operational.
- That there are significant financial, economic and social consequences that will materialise if acute shortages in workers accommodation in the region persist.
The study also presented domestic and international case studies to provide examples of how different jurisdictions have addressed the need to fill a shortage in seasonal worker accommodation facilities, to help inform the potential development options available as part of a more comprehensive policy response to the challenge of accommodation shortages in the region.
Additional Camping Facilities Developed
From March 2023, new camping facilities will be made available at Southern Stars Holiday Park in Dunsborough for the specific purpose of providing much-needed seasonal worker accommodation in 2023-24. The powered campsites are suitable for tents, vans and campers and include access to shared ablution and cooking facilities.
The development has resulted from the tireless efforts of the Southern Stars Holiday Park team, as well as support from MRBTA, Margaret River Wine Association (MRWA), the South West Development Commission (SWDC) and the City of Busselton.
Businesses or seasonal workers wishing to secure sites on a short- or long-term basis are encouraged to contact Southern Stars Holiday Park directly to discuss requirements, via (08) 9755 1331 or email@example.com.
– Updated February 2023