ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

New Immigrants Improving Productivity in Australian Agriculture, (2012-2015)

Strategic Research Area

Sustainable Business Development in Regional Australia

Food Security and Regional Australia


Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC).Total: $468,000. Led by UTS, ILWS subcontract $61,634.


Professor Jock Collins (UTS) & Associate Professor Branka Krivokapic-Skoko


Mamre HouseThis project investigated the experiences of immigrant farmers and growers, and temporary and permanent immigrant farm labour, to better understand the ways in which immigrants contribute to productivity, sustainability, preserving resources and rural renewal in Australia.

(Right) Pic Steven Fleischmann, Farm and Community Development worker with Liberian Growers at Mamre House,

For the project the researchers  used a range of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies including:

  • Analyses of the  2011 national Census data
  • Surveys of immigrant farmers across Australia
  • In-depth interviews with new immigrant producers across a range of agricultural industry sectors and Australian states
  • In-depth interviews with Korean working holiday maker
  • In-depth interviews with refugee and humanitarian entrants

They found new immigrants were of increasing importance to Australian agriculture and were filling important needs bringing skills, innovation and vital labour to the agriculture sector. New pathways recently opened to permanent and temporary immigrants had generally succeeded in getting them into regional and rural Australia. Temporary workers such as Working Holiday Makers and Pacific Islands Seasonal  Workers provided an important workforce, particularly during harvest times around Australia.  However low pay and unsatisfactory work experience for both groups threatened to undermine the programs' future. They also found that refugees and humanitarian immigrants who moved to regional areas to become farmers and agricultural, entrepreneurs added considerably to the agricultural workforce.

The researchers believe that nation-wide policies should consider:

  • Better targeted migration to regional and rural areas with shortages in skills and employment;
  • Providing incentives for new immigrants to move to regional areas;
  • Increasing the number of Working Holiday Makers coming to Australia;
  • Better promoting the Pacific Islands Seasonal Workers program;
  • Increasing resettlement of refugees in regional Australia; and,
  • Enhancing local incentives to welcome new immigrants to cities and towns.


Krivokapic-Skoko, B., Reid, C. & Collins, J. (2015) International migration flows to Australia and rural cosmopolitism. Presented at the XXVI European Society for Rural Sociology Congress, Aberdeen, Scotland, August 18-21

Keshav TimalsevCollins, J. & Krivokapic-Skoko, B. (2015) Permanent and Temporary Immigrants and Rural Development in Australia, presented at SEGRA conference , Bathurst, Oct 19-22 Oct

Krivokapic-Skoko, B., Collins, J. & Monani, D. (2015) Pacific Seasonal Workers in the Australian Horticultural Sector, presented at SEGRA conference , Bathurst, Oct 19-22 Oct

Collins, J. & Krivokapic-Skoko, B. (2016) New Immigrants improving productivity in Australian agriculture, RIRDC (Project Summary & Full Report

(Right) Pic Keshav Timalsev, manager of Bush Tomatoes


The expected outcome of this research is an improvement in the Australian agricultural industry's success in attracting immigrants to fill labor shortages and an improvement in that sector's future productivity.

A/Prof Branka Krivokapic-Skoko

October 2016