The Kingdom of Tonga—which lies to the south of Samoa, south-east of Fiji and north-east of New Zealand—is the sole constitutional monarchy in the Pacific.
It is a Polynesian country made up of 176 islands, 36 of which are inhabited by a population of approximately 106,000 people.
The islands are divided into four main groups: Tongatapu, Ha’apai, Vava’u and the Niuas. The capital Nuku’alofa is located on the main island of Tongatapu.
Tonga has experience in labour mobility programs in both Australia and New Zealand.
Tongans represent almost 60 per cent of the 31,344 participants in the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) to date.
So far, 14,569 Tongan workers (1,929 women and 12,640 men) have participated in the SWP since it commenced in July 2012.
Tongans are physically strong and have one of the highest productivity rates in seasonal labour programs both in Australia and New Zealand.
It is for this reason that Tonga has maintained its position as one of the top three source countries for the SWP and the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme in New Zealand.
Because of their physical strength and high productivity, Tongan workers are well suited to labour-intensive sectors such as horticulture, meat processing and forestry.
Tonga also has a growing cohort of hospitality and aged-care graduates from the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) and from local Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions.
They have good to excellent English and are particularly experienced in kitchen hand and housekeeping work.
The Overseas Employment Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Tonga has a dedicated team that carefully screens applications and assists employers to recruit workers.
English and fitness tests are conducted during the recruitment process to ensure that the workers selected are fit to work in Australia and meet employers’ requirements.
To recruit workers under the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) or the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS), an Australian employer must be registered as an Approved Employer, or they must recruit workers through a labour-hire firm that is an Approved Employer.
To find out more about becoming an Approved Employer, visit the SWP employer information page on the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business website or the PLS employer information page.
Once approved, employers can recruit Tongan workers through the Ministry for Internal Affairs in Tonga.
The Australian Government has two visa schemes available for Tongan nationals to work in Australia.
The Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) provides access to unskilled work opportunities for up to nine months in the Australian agricultural and accommodation sectors (in selected locations).
The Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) enables citizens of Tonga to take up low-skilled and semi-skilled work in rural and regional Australia for one to three years.
To join the Seasonal Worker Programme as an agricultural worker, an applicant must:
To join the Pacific Labour Scheme as a hospitality worker, an applicant must comply with all the above and:
It is free to join the Seasonal Worker Programme and the Pacific Labour Scheme.