Charlie Stevens l Palladium - Mar 16 2023
Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Reaches Worker Milestone Ahead of Expectations

Elvira and Fina both work for Hillwood Berries in Tasmania as part of the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme.

The Palladium-managed Pacific Labour Facility (PLF) celebrated a major workforce milestone in January for the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme – six months early. In October of 2022, the Australian Government committed to reaching 35,000 workers by June 2023 and the program recently surpassed that total.

It allows eligible Australian businesses to hire workers from nine Pacific islands and Timor-Leste when there are not enough local workers available. Through the scheme, businesses can recruit workers for seasonal jobs for up to nine months or for longer-term roles for between one and four years in unskilled, low-skilled, and semi-skilled positions.

“This is a wonderful milestone for our team and a huge achievement, especially given the challenges of the pandemic and border restrictions over the past few years,” notes PLF Team Leader Gavin Murray. “It has not been an easy journey but it’s also been incredibly rewarding to have such a positive impact on so many lives in Australia, the Pacific, and Timor-Leste during a very difficult period.”

As of December 2022, these workers had earned approximately AU$526 million in wages and saved and remitted AU$188.5 million to family and communities back home. With the money PALM scheme workers are earning in Australia, they are building new homes, putting kids through school and kick-starting businesses in tourism and hospitality, farming, and other sectors in the Pacific.

There are now more than 35,000 seasonal and long-term PALM scheme workers in Australia, employed across 28 industries including agriculture, food processing, accommodation and hospitality, and aged care, filling critical labour gaps by offering employers access to a pool of reliable, productive workers. The scheme allows workers to take up jobs in Australia, develop their skills, and send income home.

As more Pacific and Timorese workers integrate into regional and rural communities across the country, the PALM scheme is forging people-to-people connections and building a stronger and more united Pacific neighbourhood. Long term workers and their employers have added an estimated AU$1.3 billion worth of economic benefit to Australia’s economy since 2019, according to the latest modelling completed by the PLF.

“In the last four years, we’ve seen the positive flow-through impacts on the Australian economy from our long term PALM scheme workers, including over AU$400 million in profits for Australian employers, and a total of AU$51.9 million of income tax,” adds Murray.

Perhaps most importantly, workers are also gaining new skills they can use when they return home after their time in Australia. With the 35,000 target now surpassed and with many more workers due to participate in the scheme in the coming years, the Australian Government is embarking on an ambitious reform agenda to maximise benefits for workers, their communities, and Australian businesses.

This includes the ability for employers to sponsor PALM scheme workers on long-term placements to bring their immediate family to Australia, increased investment in training for PALM scheme aged care workers, and new settings to provide more flexibility to employers without weakening worker protections.

The PALM scheme is managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations with end-to-end support provided by the PLF. For more information, contact