During the 3 years they have spent living and working in Australia through the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme, Talica and Jonathan from Fiji have faced many challenges due to COVID-19. Throughout this time, however, they have adapted to the various changes brought by the pandemic, relying on their faith and each other to continue to work toward their goals.
The married parents of 3 children from Sigatoka worked as chefs in Fiji before moving to Hayman Island Resort in 2019 to undertake long-term placements in the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme.
COVID-19 hit the tourism industry just 5 months into their time in Queensland, and they took up an opportunity to relocate to Warrigal Aged Care in Goulburn, New South Wales.
They took on roles as care service employees, assisting residents with daily tasks, cleaning and food preparation and learning about workplace health and safety procedures. They underwent a week-long induction before starting the role and have been taking regular compulsory training modules on many topics, including dementia and verbal and non-verbal cues.
The couple have had to quickly adapt to new environments and situations during their time in Australia, with the size of the country, the cold winter weather in Goulburn and the self-service checkouts at supermarkets all proving new experiences.
However, these experiences have meant they have now picked up skills and knowledge in 2 industries.
Talica and Jonathan said they now feel more confident communicating in English and have progressed in their careers as chefs, having learned about new foods, cuisines and equipment in their short stay on Hayman Island.
They also feel blessed to have gained different work experience in Australia in the aged care industry.
“Over here, I can say that we have done great, and we can only praise God for this opportunity,” Jonathan said.
Their goal has always been to support their family back home and save towards home renovations, and this has given them a sense of purpose during their time in Australia.
To make life in Australia easier and more economical, they saved up for a second-hand car to commute to work so they did not need to rely on taxis. They also managed to find a rental property of their own, which was fully furnished and included utilities.
Before joining the PALM scheme, Talica and Jonathan said they lived paycheck to paycheck, but they have since been able to achieve more financial stability while in Australia.
“In Fiji, we look to Australia as a place of opportunities. This is a place to come and gain work experience, learn new cultures and build or better your financial status so when you leave, you have something to take back home,” Jonathan said.