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Pacific labour scheme recruited in Solomon Islands
10:29 pm GMT+12, 04/02/2019, Solomon Islands

 In a major milestone for Solomon Islands, the first ever Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) workers have been recruited.  
 
The exciting new programme, launched last year, will enable Solomon Islanders to work in Australia for up to three years.  
 
In a great start for 2019, Australian employer PowerPac has recruited 11 PLS workers from Solomon Islands.  
 
The workers will undertake non-seasonal agricultural roles and will work on three farms located across Queensland.  
 
The first seven workers departed Solomon Islands in January and will pick bananas in Mareeba in Far North Queensland.  
 
The workers have made a great start and are already busy picking bananas on two farms.  
 
The final four workers will travel to the Lockyer Valley region next week and will receive an on-farm induction before commencing work.  
 
Prior to leaving Solomon Islands, all workers participated in a pre-departure briefing.  
 
The trainings provided workers with detailed information about their contractual benefits and obligations, and general information about Australian culture, laws and customs.  
 
At the opening of the final training on 30 and 31 January 2019, Australian High Commissioner, Roderick Brazier, congratulated the workers.  
 
“This is a historic moment - having more Solomon Islanders travelling to Australia for work is a high priority,” he said.  
 
“This is big opportunity – you will have a chance to earn money and can make a big contribution to your country.  
 
It is also a chance to make new friends in Australia.”  
 
George Tuti provided opening remarks on behalf the Solomon Islands Labour Mobility Unit (LMU).  
 
Tuti highlighted LMU’s zero tolerance policy on alcohol.  
 
“Remember you are ambassadors for your country. During your time in Australia you carry two flags – Solomon Islands and the ‘Here to Work’ brand,” he said.  
 
The PLS commenced on 1 July 2018 and enables citizens from selected Pacific countries to take up low and semi-skilled work in rural and regional Australia for up to three years.  
 
The Solomon Islands joined the scheme in September 2018.  
 
The Scheme is focused on sectors with projected employment growth in Australia and contains protections to safeguard against worker exploitation.  
 
Workers from Solomon Islands can be recruited through two approved methods: direct recruitment by farmers or the Labour Mobility Unit (LMU) managed Work Ready Pool.  
 
At present, there are no open recruitments being held for PLS. Australian High Commission Honiara Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade People should be aware of labour mobility scams.  
 
No one should pay money to individuals promising work.  
 
Anyone who is approached by someone claiming to facilitate work in Australia in exchange for money should contact the Labour Mobility Unit immediately and report the incident.  
 
The Pacific Labour Scheme (the Scheme) officially commenced on 1 July 2018. The Scheme, which was announced by then Prime Minister Turnbull at the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Meeting on 8 September 2017, is an exciting new chapter in Australia’s engagement with Pacific island countries.
 
The Scheme currently enables citizens of Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu to take up low and semi-skilled work opportunities in rural and regional Australia for up to three years.  
 
The Scheme will be expanded to more Pacific island countries to help meet demand in rural and regional Australia.  
 
Through these opportunities’ workers earn income and develop skills which benefit their families and communities. Uncapping the Pacific Labour Scheme will help fill labour gaps in Australia’s towns and on our farms, boosting economic activity and competitiveness in rural and regional Australia.  
 
The Scheme:  
 
• is now uncapped and will be expanded to more Pacific countries to help meet demand in rural and regional Australia;
 
• has an initial focus on sectors with projected employment growth in Australia;
 
• is employer-sponsored and requires labour market testing to ensure Australians have priority for local jobs; and
 
• contains protections to safeguard against worker exploitation.
 
Workers from Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu can currently participate in the Scheme.  
 
Access will be expanded in stages to all Pacific island countries.

SOURCE: SOLOMON STAR/PACNEWS


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