Local News

Darwin pubs to pay flights and quarantine costs to get staff from the UK


Australians stuck in the United Kingdom, could get a free ticket home if they are keen to take up work at a Darwin pub.

It is part of a plan by Australian Venue Co, which owns Shenanigans, Monsoons and Smith Street Social, to help the hospitality sector get more staff.

Chief executive Paul Waterson says the company will cover the relocation costs for hospitality staff.

“Flights have been incredibly expensive and challenging to get so we’ve decided to pay for flights and quarantine costs when those returning hospo workers from the UK return to Australia.”

He says they are hoping to fill various roles in Darwin and 300 positions nationwide.

“We’re looking for about 30 people in Darwin which is a mix of back of house, staff in the kitchen as well as about 20 people in the front of house as well as in the bar.”

Chefs are also in hot demand.

“With the new Free Trade Agreement in the UK, we’re targeting 150 UK chefs to pick up and move to Australia and we’re paying their visa costs as well as flight and quarantine costs as well.”

The initiative also includes training opportunities for Territorians and those keen to start a career in the sector.

“We will teach you everything that you need to know, it’s a really great career, whether it’s for short term or longer term,” Mr Waterson says.

'Worthwhile investment'

Despite investing millions in the initiative, Mr Waterson says they are only asking for a short term commitment from staff.

“It’ll be about $20,000 per person all up between flights and accommodation so it’s going to cost us just north of $3 million.”

“It’s only an initial six months that we’re asking them to work for us so if after six months, they no longer want to work with us they don’t have to pay back the costs.”

He says the initiative is “worthwhile to get the sector back on its feet.”

The initiative is being driven by strong trade in the sector and a lack of working holiday makers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

So far there have been 200 expressions of interest to work in Darwin and 400 nationwide.

But with ongoing COVID challenges, the logistical and quarantine arrangements are still being firmed up.

“We’re talking to Qantas about whether we charter a plane to get all these people over at once and then we’ll be talking to governments about quarantine arrangements in order to accommodate them,” Mr Waterson says.

It is hoped the staff will arrive in Darwin before Christmas, giving them the chance to reunite with their families.