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Pacific Labour Mobility Consultation Summary

Reason for the Review

COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus the value of our Pacific labour mobility initiatives, the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS), which provide direct and tangible economic benefits to both our Pacific family and Australian farmers and industries.

The SWP and PLS benefit both Australia and the Pacific, helping Australian businesses address critical workforce shortages in rural and regional communities, while providing opportunities for Pacific and Timorese workers to develop skills, earn income and send home remittances to support their families and the economic growth of their countries. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these programs have provided much needed remittance flows to Pacific economies, hit hard by border closures. At the same time, Pacific and Timorese workers have proven to be a reliable and productive source of labour, particularly for Australian farmers.

As we look ahead to life beyond the pandemic, with an altered Australian labour market and growing demand for Pacific and Timorese workers, it is the right time to consider how we can best position the programs for future growth. To ensure the programs are scalable, sustainable and efficient into the future, the Australian Government sought views from stakeholders on approaches to improve, streamline and align the two programs to maximise the benefits for employers, workers and participating countries.

Conduct of the Review

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, together with the Department of Education, Skills and Employment and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, consulted stakeholders over a six-week period between 10 June to 18 July 2021. 45 written submissions and 92 website submissions were received from interested stakeholders. In addition, the government hosted 47 consultations, the majority of which was held virtually due to the evolving COVID-19 situation. Feedback was received from industry, employers, workers, unions, community groups, states and territories, and Pacific and Timorese governments.

Next Steps

The feedback gathered during the consultation period will inform future arrangements and policy settings for Pacific labour mobility and support the continued growth of the programs.

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