The program was not started by the ADF and is not an official ADF program.
It was started and is run by volunteers who are very experienced former ADF members.
The idea started as a result of an ABC Landline program which advised of the bumper grain crops from West to East coast but also a corresponding serious shortage of skilled labour to harvest this bumper crop. The initial thinking was that a trained tank driver could, with a modicum of training, effectively operate a grain harvester or header.
"Hence the motto 'From Tanks to Tractors'! "
'Be assured that the Program applies to ALL former ADF members. There are jobs on farms and in the harvest cycle to suit the skills and capabilities of former ADF people from ALL Corps, Services and backgrounds.'
As the program provides well-paid seasonal employment for former members of the ADF, we expect that the ADF would be keen to support it. We have yet to formally address this contention.
The need for harvest machine operators on the West Coast has been estimated by the Grains Industry at 1,000; similar numbers apply on the East Coast.
Across the nation, many additional thousands of supporting staff are needed to bring in the harvest, despite the heavy use of machinery and bulk handling, such is the massive size of the Australian harvest.
So there are no shortage of opportunities for people of all skill levels, though our primary and initial focus is on machine operators.
The response from the community has been strong as has the response from the media.
The response from former ADF people has been very encouraging.
To mid September 2021, over 1,500 farmers and ADF people have joined the two Facebook pages and are working towards matching up with one another, to get the job done.
The harvest starts in early October in the north of WA and mid October in the south. Similar dates apply on the east coast, with a general tendency to be a week or two behind WA. In some cases, harvest work continues until well into January though most of the grain is off by the end of November/mid December.
Both grain producers/grain harvest contractors put their needs onto the Facebook page for their region of the nation. The former ADF people do the same. They then match up with one another, discussing and agreeing what effectively becomes a Letter of Offer; once this is agreed, an Employment Contract is issued. Former ADF people are employed under the same commercial conditions as apply to their normal staff.
All States except NT and Tas.
There are a large number of roles; we are initially focused on machine operators though farms also need a wide range of different people in the ‘harvest chain’.
Other roles include: mechanics, engineers, MC and HR truck drivers, spray rig operators, from and harvest hands (various).
For machine operators, the Award rate if $25/hour; many farmers pay well above that rate. Our State/Regional Coordinators are available to provide some advice to former ADF people on such matters. For farmers, the former ADF people are not an opportunity for ‘cheap labour’!
Farms often provide meals and accommodation for their harvest workers; some farmers may allow former ADF people to bring their caravans/camper vans, their wife and or their dog – subject to the advance agreement of the farmer.
The list of State Coordinators is shown on the website under its own heading; but first register on the website.
The Federal Governments AgMove program provides reimbursement for travel to/from the farm (fuel, food, accommodation) and for outfitting oneself with work clothes/safety items. There is a time-on-farm qualifying period and up to $6,000 of reimbursement, supported by receipts, is available. This program is administered by DESE Harvest Trail Administrators located around Australia. We strongly suggest that former ADF people review the documents associated with Agmove and register with a Harvest Trail Administrator before they leave home.
There are a number of volunteer former-ADF State and Regional Coordinators appointed and their contact details are contained on the website; any issues on the farm that cannot be resolved locally can be referred to the Coordinators who will assist with resolution. The Coordinators are also a good source of advice on a range of matters, especially for former ADF members.
Online training before going to the farm is available on the Operation Grain Harvest Assist website; more training will be arranged and provided for future years including training on machine operation. There is no cost for the online training.
We rely heavily on others to assist with getting the word out to both farmers and the former ADF people about this program.
The Grains industry have been close and vital partners from the beginning; the media have also played a strong role.
For which we are very appreciative.
See the separate registration boxes on the bottom of the homepage on the website.