DREAMS of working on outback cattle stations in Western Australia have been crushed for many after WA's hard border was extended indefinitely last month.
The announcement comes at a time primary producers have been struggling to fill severe labour shortages for time-critical jobs.
Bush Recruitment director Dugald Storie, Toowoomba, Queensland, runs a specialist employment agency, which sources staff for livestock stations and cropping properties across Australia.
Among his client list are WA-based agricultural businesses and Eastern States' recruits wanting to experience rural working life in regions including the Kimberley and Pilbara.
Mr Storie said some of his recruits, who were mainly school leavers, had employment lined up in WA since August last year.
"They were focusing on their final year exams knowing they were all set-up to go in the new year," Mr Storie said.
"These kids had ambitions to follow their dream of working in the agricultural industry and were keen to head to the Kimberley or Pilbara to find out how it all works before studying.
"Now, under the current restrictions/latest State government advice, all of a sudden they can't."
Among Mr Storie's recruits was a graduate with an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) of 98.5 wanting to work in agribusiness.
She had planned to work in agribusiness and arrive in WA on February 15 to commence employment.
"It is an absolute mockery - we need to be investing in Australian citizens wanting to embark on a career in the rural industry," Mr Storie said.
"It is very frustrating.
"In the first financial quarter of this financial year I had many positions to fill and I had about 15 people lined up to go to Western Australia.
"I couldn't place one person, we are looking at some serious issues here."
Mr Storie said there was a flow-on effect in not securing a workforce from potentially impacting animal welfare to farmers not being able to take full advantage of the current buoyant prices.
He said in recent years, the number of jobseekers wanting to make the move to WA had decreased.
This could be down to COVID-19, the hard border and quarantine measures in place.
"I have found less people are prepared to go to the Kimberley, whereas the Gulf of Carpentaria, positioned in Queensland and the Northern Territory, has proven very popular.
"Numbers change every year, you just don't know what's around the corner."
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