There was a time we dared to think COVID-19 would blow over. What's quite clear now is that the disease is more persistent than nutgrass, with hopes of eradication about the same.
As we watch Victoria ratchet down the restrictions, including on regional areas, and slowly turn their COVID cases around, we understand there remains a lot at stake.
It's in this context that the Queensland government has begun a program of checks around the state on COVID-19 compliance, and are focusing their attention on horticulture.
In particular they're checking compliance with the health directive for those that employ or contract seasonal workers, defined as anyone not returning to their normal place of residence, including Queensland residents.
The directive requires business owners to have a health management plan submitted to Queensland Health, to check for COVID-19 symptoms daily, and to keep records of the movement of their workers.
The checks have often involved officers from Biosecurity Queensland, the Office of Industrial Relations and the Queensland Police. Reports from growers suggests little or no advance notice has been given on impending checks.
Early reports from the Queensland government indicate a healthy level of adherence with the directive, with just a few instances of serious non-compliance.
As always, Growcom encourages growers to make time to understand their obligations and bring their operations into line with the health directive.
The program of compliance checks is expected to continue into next year, with their focus shifting to those regions and commodities that are coming into production and employing more workers.
With support from the Queensland government, Growcom is delivering a series of Workplace Essentials workshops around the state for those growers who'd like to hear more about their obligations and how to best implement practice change, including from those agencies responsible for compliance.
These Workplace Essentials workshops are open to anyone across all agricultural sectors in Queensland and will be held at Bowen, Caboolture, Bundaberg, and Stanthorpe.
Growcom will also deliver in parallel a series of webinars covering much of the same content as the workshops.
Information about the workshops and webinars can be found at the Growcom webpage: https://www.growcom.com.au/workplace-essentials/
More detail on theSeasonal Workers Health Management Plans Direction can be found here: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/system-governance/legislation/cho-public-health-directions-under-expanded-public-health-act-powers/seasonal-workers