A Port Fairy business owner is frustrated the town has been excluded from a program that allows backpackers on working holidays to be employed.
The Wharf's Sean Malady is desperate to find staff, unable to open seven days a week, and hoped hiring backpackers under a working holidaymaker program could help solve the issue.
But he said the immigration department had advised him the program, open to hospitality businesses in far north Queensland, the Northern Territory, regional and remote regional Australia, excluded Port Fairy.
"I was told Port Fairy isn't included and to fill out a form and someone will get back to me in six to eight weeks," Mr Malady said.
"It's disappointing - especially with everything we've been through over the past three years."
The program would allow workers who had completed their quota of work to apply for a second or third 417 visa.
Mr Malady said he had spoken to 10 backpackers looking for work in the past few months.
"I wouldn't have been able to take them all on, but I would have had work for three or four and there are other places around town looking for staff."
Mr Malady said the business had been unable to operate seven days a week due to staff shortages since the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We're only able to offer minimal takeaways and we're only able to open five days a week," he said.
"We have to turn away customers because we want to offer good service but we can't find the staff."
Mr Malady's comments come after a backpacker told The Standard a lack of affordable accommodation in Warrnambool was a deterrent for workers.
A spokeswoman from the federal government told The Standard the Port Fairy postcode of 3284 was considered 'regional' but not 'remote and very remote' for the purpose of meeting the specified work requirement for a second or third Working Holiday (subclass 417) or Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa.
Member for Wannon Dan Tehan has previously called for an overhaul of Australia's visa system.
He said work needed to be done to simplify the system and shorten the processing times for applications.
Mr Tehan spoke about the different visas available, saying there were "myriad" options, which often made the process daunting and time-consuming for employers.
"We need a system that doesn't have the complexity that it does," Mr Tehan said.
"It can at times be very difficult to navigate."
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