What is Pacific labour mobility and how does it work?

The Pacific Labour Scheme officially started on 1 July 2018 following the completion of a successful pilot program in northern Australia. The scheme builds on the positive impact of the Australian Government's Seasonal Worker Programme, which has provided more than 33,000 seasonal jobs to workers from Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste since 2012.

Seasonal Worker Programme

When labour market testing shows there isn’t enough local labour available, employers in rural and regional parts of Australia can recruit unskilled workers from nine Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste through the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) for up to nine months.

Pacific Labour Scheme

Through the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS), Australian rural and regional employers who can’t source enough local workers can recruit low-skilled and semi-skilled workers from nine Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste for between one and three years. They always conduct local labour market testing before they can recruit workers through the scheme.

Which countries are involved?

Workers from Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu can apply for employment in Australia through the SWP and the PLS.

Systems are in place to protect all workers against exploitation. Pastoral care provided ensures they are prepared for life in Australiaand are well supported while they are here, with access to ongoing advice and 24-hour telephone support.

A Papua New Guinean worker picking papaya at Skybury Farms in Mareeba, Queensland

Filling labour gaps in towns and on farms

Driven by employer demand, the SWP and the PLS help fill labour gaps in Australia’s towns and on our farms, boosting economic activity and competitiveness in rural and regional Australia.

The Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business administers the SWP, while the Pacific Labour Facility (PLF) connects Australian employers with workers and supports the administration of the PLS.

The PLF also works closely with Pacific and Timorese governments to build the pool of suitably qualified workers, and helps Australian businesses find and recruit workers.

Benefits that flow three ways

Through Pacific labour mobility, Australian employers in regional and rural areas can access a pool of reliable workers to help them meet their labour needs. At the same time, these workers are contributing positively to their host communities and creating people-to-people links between Australia and Pacific island countries.

When they spend time in Australia through the SWP and the PLS, workers gain valuable income and skills to take home. This is making a positive difference to the livelihoods of thousands of families in Pacific island countries and in Timor-Leste—and helping to build prosperity and security across the region.

Tebby from Kiribati working in an aged care facility in Bundanoon

That’s why Pacific labour mobility is a “triple win”.

It benefits Australian employers and their communities, it helps Pacific island and Timor-Leste workers and their families, and it increases the prosperity of the workers’ home communities and countries.

Want to find out more?

For more information about the SWP, you can visit the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business’ SWP website.

If you want to find out whether you are eligible to recruit workers through the PLS, first complete our online prospective employer questionnaire, or download a copy of the questionnaire, complete it and send it to enquiries@pacificlabourfacility.com.au.

Or, if you want to find out more about the PLS generally, get in touch at enquiries@pacificlabourfacility.com.au.

Elaine Luankon from Vanuatu working in hospitality at Cable Beach Resort, Western Australia.