Australia has announced changes to the popular working holiday maker visa scheme that is particularly aimed at young people staying and working in the north of the country.

Visa holders who secure work in certain high demand industries in northern Australia will be able to apply to work for a single employer for up to 12 months, compared to the usual limit of six months.

Australia-MiningThe Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, said the changes, an initiative of the Government's recent White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, will be of significant benefit to the agriculture and tourism sectors in the north of the country.

"These industries are highly seasonal and rely on short term workers to provide labour flexibility in peak periods," said Dutton.

The changes will also apply to work in northern Australia in aged and disability care, construction and mining. The aim is to attract more young people to areas outside of Sydney where many tend to want to stay.

Dutton pointed out that the WHM visa programme provides a fabulous opportunity to experience life in Australia. This change will encourage young people to have the unique cultural experience of living and working in Australia's north.

"Beyond giving visa holders more options when visiting and working in Australia this will also support employers in the north seeking to attract and retain staff who are trained in their roles and keen to stay on for longer than six months," said Dutton.

Further changes will follow in 2016 which will allow Work and Holiday (Subclass 462) visa holders to extend their stay in Australia by a further 12 months if they work for at least three months in agriculture or tourism in northern Australia.

"These changes create a significant incentive for young travellers who wish to experience Australia to visit and work in northern Australia. The changes, along with other initiatives in the White Paper, will help to unlock the immense potential of Australia's north and help facilitate strong economic growth," said Dutton.

Australia's WHM visa programme encourages youth mobility and tourism by allowing young adults aged 18 to 30 years to have an extended holiday in Australia, during which they can offset their travel costs by engaging in short term work.

A total of 226,812 visas were granted to participants in the working holiday visa programmes in the 2014/2015 financial year.