Pacific Labour Mobility
The Pacific Labour Scheme helps address workforce shortages in rural and regional Australia, while providing opportunities for Pacific and Timorese workers to gain experience, earn income and send remittances home to support their families and communities. The Scheme commenced on 1 July 2018 following a successful pilot program in northern Australia and builds on the success of the Seasonal Worker Programme. Under the Scheme, Approved Employers are able to recruit workers from nine participating Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste. Australian businesses are currently employing workers from Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu in low and semi-skilled roles.
Australia’s labour mobility programs are among our most highly valued initiatives under Australia's 'step-up' in the Pacific region, helping to support the economic prosperity of the ten participating countries. Labour mobility benefits Australia and sending countries, and will be even more important as Pacific economies recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Pacific Labour Scheme is demand driven and helps fill labour gaps in Australia's towns and on our farms, by providing access to a reliable and productive workforce. This helps to boost economic activity and competitiveness in rural and regional Australia. When labour market testing demonstrates that no suitable Australian workers are available, Approved Employers can access workers under the Scheme. Built-in protections safeguard against worker exploitation and the Pacific Labour Facility ensures that workers are prepared to live and work in Australia.
The Pacific Labour Facility (PLF) connects Australian employers with workers and supports the administration of the Scheme. The PLF is working closely with partner governments in the Pacific and Timor-Leste to build the work-ready pool of suitably qualified workers. At the same time, the PLF helps Australian businesses identify and access workers under the Scheme. Businesses interested in participating in the Scheme can find out more about the eligibility criteria.
The Scheme complements the existing Seasonal Worker Programme which, since 2012 has provided more than 40,000 seasonal jobs to workers from the Pacific and Timor-Leste. These workers help growers harvest crops, increase productivity and get produce to market. Savings and remittances from Australia's labour mobility initiatives pay for housing, education and support communities in Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste.
Video: Pacific Labour Mobility Scheme
Video: Aged Care
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pacific Labour Facility has focused on supporting workers in Australia and those unable to return home, as well as helping workers relocate to take up new roles in sectors less affected by COVID-19 restrictions. One PLS worker shares her experience in the video below.