92 workers are preparing to leave the country starting next week to work in Queensland, Australia under the Seasonal Work Program (SWP). The workers will be travelling in small groups separately on different dates and flights. They will be quarantined at their pre-arranged quarantine sites for 14 days before going to their respective farms where they will be working for the next 9 months.
These workers are a mix of those who have been on the program before and those just recruited now for the first time.
This will be the third group of workers to leave Solomon Islands since the labour mobility restart in November last year. There are currently 525 workers in Australia with demand growing significantly now that COVID-19 risk management initiatives are in place. All seasonal workers go through the Solomon Islands Government recruitment process including fitness testing, interviews conducted in English, Medical checks and Police clearance.
All the workers attended a mandatory two-day Pre-Departure Briefing and training program this week at the St. Banarbas Cathedral LeafHaus. The briefings include key information on worker contract & agreements, country information, health management, ambassadorial responsibilities, COVID 19 regulations and other important issues.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & External Trade, Mr Collin Beck, was a keynote speaker at the briefing. PS Beck said that the Seasonal Work Program is aimed at creating employment opportunities and generating income for unemployed people, building people to people links and opportunities to develop new and innovative business opportunities between the two countries.
He strongly reiterated the Zero Tolerance on Alcohol consumption, the consequences of Absconding and the importance of Labour Mobility Unit’s Here To Work values.
“I strongly advise all workers to refrain from consuming alcohol and encourage you all to be good ambassadors of your country. Please be reminded that you are there to work whilst at the same time you are also promoting Solomon Islands under the Here To Work brand. Make good use of this opportunity to earn and save money and help your families when you return home”.
PS Beck also stated that absconding is not an option available to workers and there are significant negative impacts from such actions.
“Let me also remind you that if you have any intentions of leaving your designated place of work to work in another location then you will be breaching your visa conditions and you will be working illegally in Australia.
“The Ministry through the LMU does not tolerate absconders and those who have absconded or overstayed and are working illegally in Australia will be permanently blacklisted from the labour mobility programs”.
The Australian High Commission also attended the Pre-departure briefing and is pleased to be helping Solomon Island workers through its bilateral arrangements under the Labour mobility program. In her remarks, Deputy High Commissioner Ms Sally Ann Vincent re-emphasized the key messages shared by PS Beck and she also strongly encourage workers to use this opportunity wisely to earn money and achieve their family goals.
The labour mobility program has benefited many families over the past years. Both SIG and the Australian government are committed to continuously support this program in the future.