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  • Miriam smiling at the camera
Learning about local Indigenous cultures and sharing their own

Australian Regional and Remote Community Services (ARRCS) is a residential aged care provider in the Northern Territory, currently employing Samoan and Solomon Islands workers in personal care, cooking, cleaning and maintenance roles. 

Misa is a personal care worker and activities coordinator at ARRCS.
Misa is a personal care worker and activities coordinator at ARRCS.

ARRCS joined the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme in July 2022 after struggling to recruit and retain local staff, but Multisite Manager Michelle Caston says that it has provided much more than just workforce stability.  
“The residents now ask specifically for certain PALM scheme workers because of their joy and personalities. They sing, they braid the ladies’ hair. It’s just the joy that they bring to the site,” she said. 

Misa from Samoa is a personal care worker and activities coordinator at Hetti Perkins, one of ARRCS’ aged care facilities in Alice Springs. For Misa, working in aged care has been a personal decision.          

“This is my dream, my passion, to work with old people. It was my dream to take care of my grandparents and parents, but they passed away. So, when that happened, I changed myself and my career, I made it my job to look after aged people.

“When I work here, I feel like I can be connected to my parents, my forefathers and my grandparents,” he said.

Cooking kangaroo tail and learning new words

Workers performing at ARRCS
Miriam and Misa have both had the opportunity to perform for the residents at ARRCS.

Hetti Perkins is one of ARRCs' Indigenous facilities, home to people from various local communities and language groups.  

Misa has enjoyed learning about the residents’ cultures and languages and has found some synergies with his own culture, too.  

“I’ve learned to cook damper, because on Fridays we make a fire and cook that for the residents. We also cook kangaroo tail once a month. I’ve learned words like tucker for food, pakala for stand up, nina for sit down and kun kun which means go to sleep,” he said.  
“There are similarities between the Indigenous people here in Australia and our people in Samoa. I mostly see this in how they respect their old people. We must respect their needs and their behavior,” he said.  

“ARRCS gave online courses for us to learn more about Indigenous cultures. For example, I learned that there are 200 to 300-plus different languages.

"We learned about the Aboriginal flag and how it represents the sun and the earth. We learned about the reconciliation program,” she said.  

Traditional dance performances for residents

Misa and Miriam have also enjoyed the opportunity to share their own cultures with the residents.  

“We have a group of Samoan colleagues here, and sometimes when we work together, we try to put on a little show, like singing or dancing. For example, we recently put on a traditional Samoan dance for the residents here and they were happy to see it,” said Misa.  

“A group of us represented Solomon Islands with a dance for the residents too. Just to do that and see them smile, it felt really good,” said Miriam.

Misa believes working in aged care is about more than just technical skills.   

“The experience we get from being here is something that will grow your heart, it will build your responsibility and help to build your relationship with our aged people,” he added.