The Pacific Labour Scheme commenced on 1 July 2018 following a successful pilot program in northern Australia and building on the success of the Seasonal Worker Programme. This new Scheme will help meet business demand across all sectors in rural and regional Australia. Workers from Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are currently able to apply for low and semi-skilled employment in Australia under the Scheme. Uncapping the Scheme and expanding it to more Pacific island countries will help deliver more workers to fill shortages in rural and regional Australia.
Australia’s ‘step-up’ in the Pacific region is one of the highest priorities of Australia’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper. Labour mobility is a win-win for Australia and sending countries, a staged expansion across the Pacific will help fill labour shortages in Australia and provide additional opportunities for workers to earn income and develop skills. Economic integration with Australia and New Zealand is important to the economic prospects of our nearest neighbours.
The Scheme is demand driven and will help fill the labour gaps in Australia’s towns and on our farms, boosting economic activity and competitiveness in rural and regional Australia. When labour market testing demonstrates that no 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 Facility connects Australian employers with workers under the Scheme and supports the administration of the Scheme. The Facility is working closely with governments to build the work ready pool of suitably qualified workers. At the same time, the Facility is working with Australian businesses to help them access workers under the Scheme. Businesses interested in participating in the Scheme should complete the Employer Self-Assessment checklist and can contact the Department with further questions.
Factsheets on both the Scheme and the Facility are available to download on this page.
The Scheme complements the existing Seasonal Worker Programme which, since 2012 has provided more than 33,000 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.