Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Australia, Robert Sisilo says a “failed Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) Scheme is not an option for Solomon Islands” as the country intends to send more seasonal workers to work in Australian farms.
Mr Sisilo echoed the sentiments earlier this week when he met with the Australian Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Mr. Tony Burke.
He thanked Australia for the scheme which now employed more than 5,000 Solomon Islanders now working on farms, old peoples’ homes and abattoirs (meat houses) in Australia.
This was the target the Government’s Labour Mobility Strategy set to reach by the end of 2023. However, it did 6 months earlier but not without its challenges.
“Yes we continue to face challenges and other systemic issues particularly on the welfare of our workers. But I am here comforted by your assurance that protecting temporary migrant workers from exploitation is a key priority of your government.” High Commissioner Sisilo said.
“Just last month we reached our target in our Labour Mobility Strategy (2019-2023) to employ 5,000 Solomon Islanders under the PALM scheme. But we still want the PALM Scheme to continue recruiting more workers from Solomon Islands. A failed PALM is not, and should not, be an option for us. And the only way to ensure that is to create a win-win situation for all in the ‘New Deed of Agreement and Guidelines’ the Approved Employers will sign up to and the MOU our two governments will also sign.” Mr. Sisilo stressed.
According to Mr. Sisilo, Solomon Islands will review its Labour Mobility Strategy and develop plans to implement it over the next five years. It considers labour mobility not just a source for employment and remittances, but also a vehicle by which it can educate workers to be law-abiding citizens and at the same time impart in them a sense of personal responsibility in what they do in life.
The Pacific and Timor Leste High Commissioners in Canberra requested a meeting with Minister Tony Burke so that they can work together to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes, which is at the heart of PALM. Their next meeting with Minister Burke will be held in August.