Wednesday 23 September 2015. Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, Margaret Twomey commended the recruitment of Fijian women to the Australian Seasonal Worker Programme as a positive development for not only the Fiji-Australia seasonal worker partnership, but also for women’s economic empowerment.
Forty five women are amongst Fijians participating in the Australian Seasonal Worker Programme thus far.
“With nearly half of this group of workers bound for Australia being women, this is a very encouraging reflection of the shared commitment that both our governments have to women’s economic empowerment,” Ms Twomey said.
The seasonal workers have been recruited by the Australian employer, Plant Grow Pick, and will be working on different farms in the Emerald (Queensland) and Euston (New South Wales) regions of Australia.
Fiji’s involvement in the Programme began with the April 2015 signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in Suva between the Hon Jioji Konrote, Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, and Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Hon Steven Ciobo.
The Australian Department of Employment has been assisting Fiji’s Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations to manage Fiji’s involvement in the Seasonal Worker Programme through outreach to potential Australian employers and by delivering comprehensive training to the Ministry when Fiji first joined the Programme.
Australia recently announced an expansion of the Seasonal Worker Programme, to further increase the economic benefits to Pacific Island Countries. Under the expanded Programme the cap on the number of workers who can participate has been removed, and the employment categories have been expanded beyond the horticulture industry to include agriculture and accommodation industries. The Australian Government will also commence a trial of seasonal labour mobility arrangements with the Northern Australian tourism industry.
Fiji is one of 10 countries currently participating in the Seasonal Worker Programme. This most recent departure will bring the number of Fijians recruited in the Australian Seasonal Worker Programme to 95.