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Pacific Labour Mobility

Pacific labour mobility is central to the Australian Government’s commitment to build a stronger Pacific family.

It delivers jobs for Pacific and Timor-Leste workers, enabling them to develop skills, earn income and support their families back home. Pacific labour mobility also helps create strong links between people, businesses, and communities, fostering deeper connections between Australia and our neighbours.

Pacific and Timor-Leste workers help to fill labour gaps in regional and rural Australia, and agriculture nationally. This offers Australian employers access to reliable, productive workers who also contribute to the cultural and economic vibrancy of communities across Australia.

The wellbeing of Pacific and Timor-Leste workers is a priority for the Australian, Pacific and Timor-Leste governments. All workers are protected by the same workplace rights and laws as Australian workers, and additional measures are in place to support the wellbeing of workers while they live and work in Australia.

Countries currently participating in Pacific labour mobility are Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

The Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme

The PALM scheme is an important temporary migration program to address unskilled, low-skilled and semi-skilled labour shortages across rural and regional Australia, and agriculture nationally. Under the scheme, Australian businesses can hire workers from Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste when there are not enough local workers available. Once approved to participate in the PALM scheme, employers can recruit workers to fill positions for seasonal placements (short-term) of up to nine months or longer-term placements of between one and four years (long-term). Seasonal and longer-term workers can be employed in any sectorand in all regional and rural postcodes, while all Australian businesses in the agriculture sector can participate in the scheme.

The PALM scheme is managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) with the support of the Pacific Labour Facility (PLF).

Expanding and Improving the PALM scheme – recent reforms

The Australian Government is committed to further expanding and improving and the PALM scheme in line with Australian and Pacific aspirations.

The Government will strengthen the PALM scheme so that it continues to deliver for employers, and workers and their families and communities, including by:

  • strengthening the Government’s oversight of the PALM scheme to enhance conditions and better protect and support workers to improve their experience in Australia
  • responsibly growing the PALM scheme and better supporting employers and participating countries by
    • providing additional resources to DEWR to increase the Government’s PALM scheme regional footprint to better support PALM scheme employers across Australia, including small growers
    • increasing resources for participating countries to mobilise more workers to ensure countries with aspirations to grow their participation in the scheme can do so
  • supporting more than 1,000 PALM scheme workers to attain formal qualifications over four years
  • increasing support to make it easier for PALM scheme workers to access their superannuation savings when they return home
  • providing access to Medicare for an initial 200 families who will participate in the PALM scheme family accompaniment pilot.

In February 2023, the Australian Government reached a major milestone – six months ahead of schedule – with more than 35,000 PALM scheme workers now in Australia. These reforms expand the scheme responsibly so that it can continue to meet unskilled, low-skilled and semi-skilled labour shortages, especially in regional Australia.

These reforms build on those announced in October 2022 and ongoing efforts to bring together the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) into a more flexible and efficient PALM scheme. For further information on the recent reforms, please use the links below or visit the PALM scheme website.

Expanding and improving the PALM scheme – 2022 consultations

Consultations with stakeholders on the Government’s commitment to expand and improve the PALM scheme  commenced in June 2022, with formal consultations taking place from 1 September to 4 November 2022.

These consultations were designed to ensure that the detailed design of PALM scheme policies was informed by the practical experiences of those who value, engage with, and participate in the scheme to maximise benefits for workers, Pacific partners, industry, and the Australian community.

Feedback from stakeholders in the process has been essential in shaping the detailed implementation of this important reform agenda. For further information on the 2022 consultation process, please see summary below.

Download the 2022 consultation summary

Read the submissions

The written submissions received, where consent was provided to publish, are available below.

2021 PALM scheme consultation

These consultations build on those in mid-2021 on bringing together the Seasonal Worker Programme and the Pacific Labour Scheme into a more flexible and efficient PALM scheme. For further information on this consultation process, please see summary below.

Download the 2021 consultation summary

A consultative approach to Pacific labour mobility

The Australian Government is committed to getting the PALM scheme’s settings right for employers, workers and our Pacific and Timor-Leste family alike. Formal consultation structures for the PALM scheme will guide the ongoing PALM scheme reform process.

Headed by the PALM Advisory Group, this consultative structure ensures that the Government has regular access to a broad range of perspectives from across industry, unions, civil society and our Pacific partners, as we reform the PALM scheme.

The PALM Advisory Group is supported by sector-specific committees in the key PALM sectors. These include the PALM Agriculture Committee, the PALM Meat Processing Committee and the PALM Care Committee.

The appropriateness of the PALM scheme consultation approach will be reviewed on an ongoing basis as part of the government’s commitment to improve consultation with all PALM scheme stakeholders.

The Government will augment discussions through existing formal consultation structures with additional stakeholder consultations to guide the PALM scheme reform process.

For more information about the PALM scheme please visit Pacific Australia Labour Mobility.

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