First Samoans to work under the Australia-Pacific Labour Mobility Scheme

PHOTO: Australia’s High Commissioner, Sara Moriaty meets the seven Samoans to work under the Australia-Pacific Labour Mobility Scheme with the Cowra Meat Processors Company in New South Wales

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA- WEDNESDAY 20 MARCH 2019: Seven young Samoan men will be the first recruits under the Australia-Pacific Labour Mobility Scheme.

It is the first group to work under the scheme since Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi and Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marise Payne signed the agreement in September 2018.

Today Australia’s High Commissioner, Her Excellency Sara Moriaty congratulated the group.

“You are part of the new group and this is an exciting time for us with the Australia –Pacific Labour scheme to get you going down to Australia, and the money you will be getting and send back to help your community,” said Moriaty.

“I’m sure you’re going to do Samoa proud and it’s great for the bilateral relationship between Samoa and Australia,” she said.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour, Pulotu Lyndon Chu-Ling said 40 people applied for only 7 vacancies available at the Cowra Meat Processors Company in New South Wales.

He said the rest are on the stand-by list, and according to Peter Garlick, the company’s Production Manager, they are looking are recruiting more workers from Samoa.

Pulotu said the Australia-Pacific Labour Mobility scheme is similar to the Seasonal workers program currently employing hundreds of Samoans in New Zealand.

The difference he said is that under the Australia-Pacific scheme, the workers can work in Australia for one year under the 3 year visa, whereas the Seasonal workers timeframe is either 3 or 6 months, then return home.

Garlick said it was early this year that the company decided on recruiting Samoan workers. The Cowra Meat Processors Company supplies meat for the domestic food market in Sydney and New South Wales.

The set salary under the program is AUD$900 a week.

The seven Samoan recruits (standing) with Australia’s High Commissioner, Sara Moriaty, the MCIL CEO Pulotu Lyndon Chu-Ling and representatives of Cowra Meat Processors Company in New South Wales.

Tariu Kirifi from Pu’apu’a, Savai’i and is one of the first of the 7 recipients of the program.

“I am very happy for the opportunity to help my family financially and I hope to support them from Australia,” said Kirifi.

Last year, a group of Australian investors came to Samoa on a Pacific Trade Investment mission under the guidance of Leata Alaimoana Peters  of the Impact Investment Manager – Pacific Trade Invest Australia and team.

She spoke then of exciting opportunities for the Pacific under this scheme with opportunities to work in areas such as Hospitality, Age Care and Disabilities in Australia.

Only a few countries in the Pacific are in the Labour Mobility Scheme with Samoa joining in  after the Prime Minister signed the 3 year visa agreement during the Pacific Leaders Forum meeting in Nauru in September last year.