Workers from Pacific island countries can now be employed in regional and remote northern Australian businesses for up to three years under the new Pacific Labour Scheme.
The scheme will help fill labour gaps in northern Australia’s towns and farms and boost economic activity whilst giving Pacific Island workers income and skills to benefit their families and communities.
It focuses on three industries with projected employment growth or high employer demand and that match Pacific island workers’ skill sets:
- accommodation and food services (such as hospitality and tourism)
- health care and social assistance (such as aged and disability care)
- non-seasonal agriculture, forestry and fishing
Australian workers still have priority for local jobs as the scheme is capped at 2000 workers in 2018–19, is employer-sponsored and requires labour market testing.
Employers must first advertise for workers in Australia to ensure jobs can’t be filled here before positions are offered to Pacific island workers.
Interested businesses need to apply online to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to participate in the scheme.
Employers also need to apply for a Temporary Activities Sponsorship approval through the Department of Home Affairs.
Approved businesses then work with DFAT and the Pacific island countries to recruit workers who meet all visa requirements and health and character checks.
DFAT will help Pacific island workers meet pre-departure and on-arrival requirements and with access to ongoing pastoral care and support services in Australia.