A new initiative aimed at giving growers in the horticulture sector the tools they need to ensure workers are treated fairly was launched today to restore consumer and public confidence in the sector as an ethical employer.
Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Anne Ruston said development of the Fair Farms Initiative was led by Growcom, with support from the Queensland Horticulture Council, and funded by the Australian Government through the Fair Work Ombudsman's Community Engagement Grants Program.
"It is always great to see industries show leadership and a proactive approach to tackling challenges in their sector—so I congratulate all those involved in this important new initiative," Minister Ruston said.
"I deal first-hand with many growers across the nation, and I know that the vast majority of growers work hard to do the right thing, treating their workers fairly and complying with workplace laws.
"It is extremely unfortunate that the reputation of this fantastic industry that has been built by hardworking Aussies has been negatively affected by the actions of a few.
"The Fair Farms Initiative will help ensure growers have the tools and knowledge to treat their workers fairly and ethically, including through education, benchmarking and certification.
"It will also help to restore the reputation of the horticulture sector, so that consumers and the wider public can be confident that the sector takes an ethical approach to workplace relations."
Minister Ruston said the initiative would comprise five main components:
A series of information articles on key workplace relations issues for publication in an array of industry magazines including Fruit and Vegetable News, Vegetables Australia and other regional and industry publications.
The roll out of the Hort360 Workplace Relations best management practice (BMP) module nationally, over the next four years, to enable growers to do a confidential risk assessment of their current practice and identify areas for improvement.
Targeted regional seminars throughout Australia focusing on key areas of non-compliance.
The development, through Freshcare, of a voluntary third-party Audited Certification for growers to enable them to demonstrate compliance.
Development of a pathway to qualifications in Human Resources for interested growers.
For more information, please visit the Growcom website: http://bit.ly/FairFarmsInitiative.