The opposition is backing a call to allow backpackers to do unpaid volunteer in bushfire-devastated communities as part of meeting their visa conditions.
A day after BlazeAid founder Rhonda Butler told The Daily Advertiser,she had been pleading for the overhaul, Kristina Keneally, the opposition spokeswoman for home affairs, has echoed those calls.
"Bushfire-affected communities, including many regional towns, rely on backpackers on working holiday maker visas and temporary skilled migrants to fill shortages in the labour market - particularly in horticulture and hospitality," Senator Keneally said.
"Many backpackers and other temporary migrants even want to volunteer and help their towns recover but risk their visas being cancelled for simple changes to their work arrangements."
Senator Keneally said Labor was pushing for the government to make changes to "provide vital reassurances to local businesses, their employees on temporary visas and other migrants".
Among these changes are calls to allow backpackers on working holiday visas to count volunteering with specific charities assisting bushfire recovery towards the regional work requirements and to take a flexible approach to visa holders' compliance obligations for those in fire-affected areas.
Member for Riverina and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said all working holiday makers were able to work on disaster recovery efforts in either a paid or volunteer role, including doing tasks such as fixing fencing, land clearing and earthmoving. This includes working with a recognised charity such as BlazeAid.
Currently volunteer work is not counted towards meeting visa requirements, largely to guard against worker exploitation, he said.
"The federal government is continuing to look at all options to assist those affected by the terrible bushfires," Mr McCormack said.
A spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs said volunteer work was excluded for backpackers in 2015 to safeguard visa holders against exploitation.
"It addressed concerns that some employers were encouraging working holidays makers to work for less than the minimum wage, for free or on a volunteer basis in order to become eligible for a second working holiday makers visa," the spokesperson said.