Adapting to life in a new country can be challenging, so Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme employer HE Silos has tried to help its new staff from Fiji feel welcome in regional New South Wales.
HE Silos is a family-owned and operated silo manufacturing business in Forbes, a regional town of approximately 8,500 people situated around 370 km west of Sydney.
The company has been producing grain, fertiliser and many other types of silos for farmers across Australia and internationally since 1969.
It welcomed 10 workers from Fiji - its first staff under the PALM scheme - in February this year, and has since been helping them settle in to their new workplace and surroundings.
"It's probably quite different in regional New South Wales to Fiji, but they’ve found their feet here," said Gabi Sands, HE Silos Human Relationship Generalist and Marketing Coordinator.
HE Silos threw an Australian-style barbecue for the workers when they arrived.
They also organised a bus tour of the local area, showing them the picturesque Lake Forbes and the plains, the town’s heritage buildings and beautiful parks.
The company also has a wellness program where they offer gym memberships for staff, which has proved popular.
The workers have formed connections with the local rugby team, the Forbes Platypi.
They have also joined churches in the region and met with other Fijians living in the nearby town of Parkes, which has helped them settle in further.
But there are some aspects of Australian life that take a bit more getting used to than others.
The company is helping the workers find heaters and warmer clothes to adjust to the cooler weather and has been providing advice on Australian wildlife.
"Within the first week when the boys were just walking around town getting themselves situated, they saw a dead snake and they were quite amazed by it, so they showed us," Ms Sands said.
"They were a bit scared. They thought coming to Australia they might have seen snakes 24/7 but we just say that it’s only a one-off thing, they go into hibernation."
At the workplace, Australian staff have been learning Fijian words and phrases to help connect with the workers.
Ms Sands said the arrival of the workers had been a boost for the business, as well as the wider community.
"This was a great experience and opportunity for our company. We enjoy having our Fijian workers here and they’re just so uplifting. They’ve definitely just fit right in with our community, and we enjoy having them as part of our team."