By Nanai Laveitiga Tuiletufuga, Sydney Australia. Four months ago, Junior Fidow could hardly make ends meet to support his family of five children.
Today, there is hope and the future looks bright for the 41 year old former Marketing and Sales clerk and his family.
He is earning close to AUST$1,000 a week after deductions, thanks to Australia’s Pacific Labour Mobility employment initiative.
And Fidow is singing praises for the opportunity.
“Not in this lifetime have I earned this kind of money until now,” says Fidow “The word savings was a myth back in Samoa, now it’s real for me.”
Fidow made history last May as the team leader for the pioneer group of seven Samoans hired by the Cowra Meat Processors Company in New South Wales under the Pacific Labour Mobility initiative.
“There is no way in a million ways that I’m going to muck up this opportunity of a lifetime,” he says, “This is my children and my family’s’ future.
“Thank you Australia and thank you to our Prime Minister for giving families like mine hope.”
And more and more Samoans will be heading to Down Under, according to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour.
200 Samoans are lined up to be interviewed for possible recruitment under the Pacific Labour Mobility and will join 55 Samoans already working in Australia under the Pacific Labour Mobility scheme.
The incentive is similar to the New Zealand Seasonal Workers Scheme but the difference is in the duration of the work permits.
New Zealand seasonal workers are hired for periods from three months to a maximum of seven months before returning home.
The Pacific Labour Scheme is separate from the Australia’s Seasonal Workers Program (SWP) which currently provides 648 jobs for Samoans. And MCIL says that another 100 Samoan SWP workers should heading to Australia soon.
The Pacific Labour initiative was launched in 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.
Australia’s two employment initiatives was also on the agenda during bilateral talks between Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Sydney last weekend.
Said Prime Minister Tuilaepa;
“Providing new jobs for our people is a must and a priority.
“I have been informed that for this year close to 700 Samoans are presently employed in Australia under the two programs.
“And the assurances from Prime Minister Morrison is leverage for our Seasonal Employment Unit to negotiate with more Australian farmers and businesses to hire more Samoans.
“To that extent I have tasked the implementing government agencies to explore every opportunity available to ensure that we capitalise on the opportunity to secure more jobs for Samoans.”
From the Pacific Island sending seasonal workers to Australia and New Zealand, the Samoa Government’s approach to the Seasonal employment programs is exclusive and unique.
Samoa is the only government providing support services through our pre-screening process of applicants. And it has fine tuned a pre-departure orientation program to prepare RSE workers bound for Australia and New Zealand.
Other Pacific countries recruitment are handled by independent or private agents.
Government has also recruited a Resident Seasonal Employment Liaison Officer to live in Australia to ensure that the two program’s objectives are not compromised by Samoan workers.
“ I would like to reassure the Australia Government that Samoa has also adopted the zero tolerance policy which blacklist any workers deported for violating conditions of their employment contracts.
“And their villages will also suffer the same consequences,” reassured Prime Minister Tuilaepa.
“Overall, government’s priority and commitment to these programs is a strong as ever because it’s providing more than just jobs and income but hope and prosperity for low income families in the country.”