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Worker support

 

Alvea Lily from Vanuatu

 

The wellbeing of Pacific and Timor-Leste workers is of central importance to the Australian Government and to its Pacific and Timor-Leste partners.

All Pacific and Timor-Leste workers participating in the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme have the same workplace rights and protections as Australian workers.

PALM scheme employers are responsible for ensuring workers are supported, and businesses must meet specific requirements in order to recruit staff. These include meeting the required accommodation standards, providing sufficient hours of work and other provisions aimed at ensuring the wellbeing of workers.

How are workers supported while they are in Australia?

The PALM scheme has built-in protections. This includes a requirement that PALM scheme employers have worker welfare embedded into their systems and practices to create positive, productive working environments.

The Australian Government also conducts check-ins with workers and employers to make sure employers are taking good care of their workers, and that all required conditions are being met.

Workers with concerns about their work conditions can contact their country liaison officer (CLO) or the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), or call the PALM scheme support service line for help and advice. See below for details.

Ongoing focus on welfare and wellbeing

Worker with spinach

Ongoing welfare and wellbeing support is provided to PALM scheme workers throughout their time in Australia.

Before workers from Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste come to Australia, they participate in pre-departure training that provides information about living and working in Australia and how to access support.

When they arrive in Australia, their employer provides an on-arrival briefing and helps workers form connections with local community groups as they settle into their new homes. 

Information on a range of topics is provided to workers, including:

  • accommodation and appropriate living arrangements
  • personal finance, superannuation, insurance and banking services
  • tax returns
  • sending money home
  • essential items in Australia (SIM cards, phones, clothing, etc.)
  • getting an Australian driver’s licence
  • the role of the FWO
  • workplace rights and entitlements
  • health and medical contacts
  • education and training opportunities
  • contacts for any diaspora in the community where they will live and work.

Employers provide ongoing support and advice to their workers while they are here.

Community Connections

A partnership between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Salvation Army is providing additional and strengthened welfare support to PALM scheme workers. Community Connections creates better relationships between workers and their local communities and improved cultural understanding.

The Salvation Army can be contacted for more information at (communityconnections@salvationarmy.org.au).

Contact information for PALM scheme workers

If employers cannot provide answers to workers’ questions, workers can contact their (CLO) or labour attaché (noting not all participating countries have CLOs).

Workers can also be provided with the contact details below.

FWO: Call (13 13 94) or the interpreter service on (13 14 50).

Seasonal workers can call the SWP information line on (+61 2 6240 5234), 9 am-5 pm (AEDT) Monday to Friday, or the support service line below after hours for critical incidents. They can also send an email to (seasonalworker@dese.gov.au).

Longer-term workers can call the support service line on (1800 51 51 31) or email (support@pacificlabourfacility.com.au). Please note the support email inbox is only monitored during business hours, and calls to the support service line after hours should be for critical incidents only.