Backpackers will be able to help Australia rebuild after summer’s devastating bushfires under federal government changes to visa rules.

The changes mean backpackers living and working in bushfire zones can stay with the same employer for a year instead of six months.

Construction work in disaster zones will count as work under the new rules designed to support farmers and regional businesses.

Paid and volunteer disaster recovery work in fire-hit areas will count towards the specified work needed to apply for a second or third-year visa.

Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge will confirm the changes on Monday in Victoria’s Gippsland region where fires destroyed homes last month.

Working holiday-makers would help rebuild homes, fences and farms.

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“These hard-working Australians have been hit by the recent bushfires, but from today they can employ backpackers for six months long