Labour mobility to Australia has kickstarted for 2022. Forty-six workers left for Australia on 18 March to work in the meat processing sector in Queensland and New South Wales – the first group of workers to leave for Australia since 9 December 2021.
Thanks to Solomon Islands expanded participation in the Australia’s Seasonal Workers Program (SWP) and Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) there are now 2,754 Solomon Islanders working across the six states in Australia.
In 2021, the opportunities for Solomon Islander labour mobility workers increased exponentially, bolstered by Solomon Islands’ COVID-free status. Although community transmission of COVID-19 has been declared in Solomon Islands, Australia has been committed to restoring Solomon Islands access to the Australian labour market.
Consistent with Solomon Islands Government COVID-19 requirements, screening of successful applicants from the August 2021 recruitment round has also recommenced. This is an important step in returning labour mobility participation levels to pre-COVID levels and meeting the on-going demand in Australia for Solomon Island workers.
Labour mobility remains one of Australia’s most valued components of engagement with the Pacific. High Commissioner Dr Lachlan Strahan noted “Our labour mobility programs deliver direct and tangible benefits to individuals, families and communities across the Pacific. This program provides a life changing opportunity for Solomon Islanders to learn new skills, earn an income and send valuable remittances home to support their families, the Solomon Islands economy and the economic development of our region.”
The Pacific’s access to the Australian labour market provides essential workers to critical sectors of the Australian economy and is vital for economic recovery in Australia, Solomon Islands, and the Pacific.
The High Commission looks forward to more deployments over the coming months, and our continued partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade and the Support teams on labour mobility this year. Australia continues to support the Solomon Islands Government to achieve its labour mobility targets of 5,500 workers by 2023 and 10,000 by 2025.
The PLS commenced on 1 July 2018, enabling citizens from selected Pacific countries to work in rural and regional Australia for up to three years. Solomon Islands joined the PLS in September 2018. The Scheme focuses on sectors with projected employment growth in Australia and contains protections to safeguard against worker exploitation.
The SWP helps Australian employers’ to fill critical workforce gaps with Pacific workers in the agricultural and tourism sectors. Australian Government-approved employers employ SWP workers for up to nine months. Workers are recruited through three approved methods: direct recruitment by farmers, an agent, or the Labour Mobility Unit-managed Work Ready Pool (the current Solomon Island model).
From April 2022, the SWP and PLS will be consolidated, reformed, and replaced by a more flexible and efficient single program, the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) Scheme. For more information, visit www.palmscheme.gov.au.
Given the popularity of the program, people should also be aware of labour mobility scams. No one should pay money to individuals promising work. Anyone approached by someone claiming to facilitate work in Australia in exchange for money should contact the Labour Mobility Unit immediately and report the incident.