After just two months in Australia, Jimmy from Solomon Islands earned a reputation as one of PB Agrifood’s most productive and enthusiastic workers.
While Jimmy has a hearing impairment, with no ability to hear in one ear and only partial hearing in the other, this has not been a barrier to his employment. With the help and support of his employer and colleagues, Jimmy is thriving in his role as a production hand at the Toowoomba-based business, which specialises in trading soybeans, mungbeans, sunflowers, birdseeds, protein meal and planting seed.
Originally from Solomon Islands, Jimmy is part of the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme, which connects workers from the Pacific islands and Timor-Leste with eligible employers in Australia. He joined PB Agrifood* in March 2023 and said he is grateful for the way his colleagues and employer have shaped his experience so far.
“I’m really enjoying my new job. My friends help me with explanations, and they help me understand,” Jimmy said.
PB Agrifood Director Catherine Brodie said the company had made some ‘reasonable adjustments’ in the workplace, to ensure Jimmy can perform all his tasks safely.
“We just adjusted some of our procedures and communications with Jimmy to explain what tasks he had to do in his role. If he doesn’t quite understand us, we use sign language or write on paper,” she said.
For PB Agrifood making some simple changes has paid off for everyone involved.
“He has picked up the role so quickly and has gone 110% above and beyond. Jimmy is always a happy man, he is always smiling. He is one of the best baggers here, and the guys really appreciate having him on their team,” Catherine said.
“When I hear my voice, the sound is different - it’s better.”
Although Catherine and her team have fulfilled their obligation to make reasonable adjustments for Jimmy, they wanted to take their support a step further.
Jimmy has known he has a hearing impairment since he was young but doesn’t have access to hearing aids in Solomon Islands.
“My parents knew I had a hearing problem and took me to the hospital but in my country, I couldn’t get hearing aids. They just checked and said, 'you have a hearing problem'. Then I accepted it and moved on with my life,” he said.
Moving to Australia meant that Jimmy would finally be able to access this technology – but it would cost $2,500, the equivalent of around 6 months’ savings.
To improve the quality of his hearing sooner, PB Agrifood and Labour Solutions Australia, worked together with health insurance provider nib to cover the cost of Jimmy’s hearing aids. Within a few months, he was fitted with the small but life-changing devices.
“When I hear my voice, the sound is different - it’s better,” said Jimmy, just after his fitting.
“Now I will be able to talk easily with my workmates,” he added.
But it’s not just about the workplace. Having a hearing aid will impact Jimmy’s life long after he returns home from the PALM scheme.
“And my daughter – I’ll talk to her on the weekend. I will tell her that I have new hearing. I’ll tell her that my life has changed,” he said.