SURVEY RESULTS – Kimberley Skills and Labour Shortage Barrier to Regional Sustainability

The currently situation the Kimberley region is facing is severe due to a mass exodus of backpackers and seasonal workers from the region, is dire, and is forcing many local business to operate a limited capacity and even ceasing operation.  This is mainly due to interstate border, restricted visa requirements and inability to access staff on the Pacific Island Visa Scheme at the commencement of the COVID-19 restrictions.

The latest CCIWA Regional Pulse (October 2020) report indicates 74% of businesses in the Kimberley are significantly affected by the interstate border closure, which is evident here in the region, especially when trying to recruit personnel to enable business operations.

The Kimberley Chambers of Commerce & Industry (Broome, Derby, Fitzroy Crossing and East Kimberley) recently conducted a survey of our members and the wider business community in the region, measuring the impact of the skills shortage to current business requirements.

Results have indicated a severe shortage of workers especially those servicing the Hotels, Accommodation and Hospitality industries, closely followed by the Building and Construction industry.   The survey highlighted the following:

  • 59% of local businesses are not operating at 100% capacity due to workforce shortages
  • Businesses surveyed reported the region is currently short of 665 employees to cater for current demand
  • 67% of positions required are for the tourism and hospitality industries (Hotels, Accommodation, Restaurants, etc),
  • The survey revealed many of the jobs available in the region only require basic entry level skill sets
  • 35% of businesses have stated that JobKeeper and JobSeeker are impacting the availability of suitable candidates
  • 72% of businesses do not have the staff they need for today and currently forecasting that the situation will not change for at least 12 months
  • Only 43% of business have the workforce continue operating until the end of 2020 with the average decline of 54% in profitability for the quarter

Looking forward to 2021, 75% of respondents reported will not have enough staff to operate their business at commencement of the 2021 season, with the continued border closures and lack of workers.

Whilst we appreciate the initial steps the government has taken in managing the COVID-19 crisis, and the stimulus activities implemented to encourage recovery, businesses in the region are significantly struggling with no certainty in sight.

The WA Government’s ‘Work and Wander Out Yonder’ campaign is having no impact in the region, with marketing currently catered for Wheatbelt and Southern regions.  We also acknowledge the investment made into the WA TAFE and training sector, however this is not a solution to the problems in the short term.  With the looming uncertainty the region is facing, it is evident that the State and Federal governments need to outline a sustainable approach addressing the shortfall in labour, led foremost by health advice.  Some of these issues can be addressed by a full review of the Working and Skilled Visa requirements and conditions.

View the Survey Results here

Award-winning Kimberley tourism campaign returns

An award-winning tourism campaign featuring the charming adventures of a retired couple travelling the Kimberley Region of Western Australia is back.

The original Magic Kimberley campaign produced by Australia’s North West in 2019 was awarded the gold medal for Destination Marketing at the WA Tourism Awards and is in the running for the national awards to be presented next month.

Magic Kimberley – The Sequel launched today with a five-minute online video featuring much-loved characters Denise and Michael returning to the region for a new adventure on the Gibb River Road.

The Kimberley is renowned for its epic, ancient landscapes and Aboriginal history and culture, and includes destinations such as the Gibb River Road, Fitzroy River, Bungle Bungle Range, El Questro Station, Lake Argyle and the Mitchell Plateau.

Australia’s North West (ANW) CEO, Natasha Mahar, said the Magic Kimberley campaign had struck a chord with holidaymakers with its combination of authenticity and humour set against the unique Kimberley backdrop, and so bringing Denise and Michael back for a
follow-up campaign was an easy decision.

“People really loved Michael and Denise and how relatable they were as a typical ‘grey nomad’ couple and so the campaign proved highly successful, with the win at the WA Tourism Awards reflecting this,” Ms Mahar said.

“We’re operating in a difficult time for tourism in Australia with a range of factors impacting our industry, and so it’s really important we encourage people to be holidaying at home and supporting our many great tourism business operators.

“This campaign aims to encourage travellers, and particularly the 55-plus self-drive market, to make their dream a reality by experiencing the Kimberley’s incredible gorges, waterfalls, rivers and waterholes, Aboriginal culture and outback station life for themselves.

“We’re also really proud that both campaigns were produced on a minimal budget using local talent, including Kununurra residents Judy and Steve Farquhar who play Denise and Michael, and award-winning Broome film and production company Feral Films.”

Magic Kimberley – The Sequel will be rolled out online and on social media from Tuesday 18 February, supported by a range of material including advertising, itineraries, blogs and a cooperative partnership with travel wholesaler Broome, Kimberley & Beyond that will provide special offers for consumers and additional marketing support. The campaign can be viewed online here –




Media Contact:
Natasha Mahar
Chief Executive Officer
Australia’s North West Tourism
P: 08 9193 6660
M: 0455 333 877