In an area with no public transport, taxis or rideshare services, St George, Queensland-based business Moonrocks wanted to find a way to help its Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme workers gain a little independence.
Moonrocks is a family-owned onion and garlic farm run by fifth-generation farmers who are committed to environmentally sustainable farming practices.
Of its 22 current PALM scheme workers, only 3 had a driver's licence, which limited how many workers could travel the 20km into town for shopping, to run errands or attend social activities.
Moonrocks felt it was important for its workers to gain mobility and took advantage of funding through the PALM scheme’s skills development program to help 4 Ni-Vanuatu workers receive their learner driver permit.
Workers Tom Talen, Alice Lui, John Alim Amet and Simo Tony are now all smiles and are working towards gaining their ‘P’ plates in 6 months, which will allow them to drive unsupervised.
Moonrocks provided practical and computer support to help workers with the training.
A driving course was set up on the farm for supervised driving practice. Moonrocks discussed safe driving tips with the workers, in particular the issues that drivers face in rural and remote areas and when driving long distances.
As well as increasing worker wellbeing and their freedom to enjoy time off work, the upskilling of workers has benefits for the workplace too.
Once workers achieve their drivers licence, they may be interested in further training to drive forklifts or tractors and learn other machinery operations.
This will help them to perform well in their jobs and give them valuable new skills to take home with them at the end of their contract.
How the skills development program works
Funding through the skills development program is open to employers of Pacific and Timorese workers through the PALM scheme who meet the eligibility criteria.
The program prioritises funding for the development of skills to prepare workers for life and work in Australia, related to their job and for reintegration when they return home.
The programs can include formal qualifications or workplace-related training, but also caters to other life skills such as driving, English language instruction, financial literacy.
These skills can help workers adjust to life in Australia, become more independent and integrate more successfully into local communities, helping to create happier and more productive staff.
The program can be delivered flexibly at times that suit the employer and worker, is catered to the demands of each business and industry, and is value for money, with the costs shared between the parties.
How to apply for funding
PALM scheme employers can apply using the skills development application form and guide.
Employers will be notified of the Pacific Labour Facility’s (PLF’s) decision on their funding application within 7 working days of submission.
For more information, please visit the PALM scheme website or contact the PLF skills development team on email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (+61 7 3557 7766).