Hawkers Beer has successfully employed an American brewer under a 457 visa, which the Craft Beer Industry Association (CBIA) hopes has set an important precedent for the industry.
Daniel Northcutt is an experienced brewer from Louisiana, USA, who has been working at Hawkers on a short-term visa. In addition to his industry experience, he is an environmental science graduate, as well as holding an IBD General Certificate in Brewing.
These types of skills and experience have not previously been enough to meet the test for a 457 visa, Hawkers founder Mazen Hajjar told Australian Brews News.
“Traditionally brewers had to be hidden as chemists or OHS officers, and I thought this was very unfair because brewers are very skilled people,” Hajjar said.
“We were going to register him in a course to do OHS because we really wanted him, we thought he was a great brewer.
“But rather than that, we just thought, we are going to go head-to-head with immigration and see what happens, and we won! We set a precedent.
“We’re finally giving brewers the recognition for their skills that they deserve. Brewing is a very technical and very highly skilled job. There’s a lot of microbiology, there’s a lot of chemistry. It’s really a very technical job.”
Melbourne immigration lawyer Joseph Italiano oversaw the application, which went through without a hitch.
“It took them about six weeks to approve it. I was expecting it to be three months, and I was expecting to have to appeal it. To get the news so quickly that I am able to stay, I was very enthusiastic about it,” Northcutt told Australian Brews News.
The shortage of skilled brewers in Australia is well-documented, but Hajjar said this is not the only motivation for brewers to be able to hire talent from overseas.
“It’s also the free flow of information and getting to mix with brewers from different cultures. It’s all enriching to the creative process,” he said.
The CBIA said various other Australian breweries have been fighting similar battles over the last few years.
“The CBIA welcomes the success that Hawkers Beer has had in being able to recently employ a brewer under a 457 visa,” said executive director Chris McNamara.
“This opens up a great opportunity to bring in experienced overseas brewers that can only help to improve the standards of our rapidly expanding industry.
“A number of breweries have been fighting this battle over the last few years and we hope that this sets a precedent.”