The Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations has begun sending women to participate in the Australian Seasonal Work Program. Forty-five women are part of the 90 who would have departed for Australia by the end of September.
Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Hon Jioji Konrote said the Ministry continues to work with employers to promote gender equality and inclusivity when considering recruiting.
Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, Margaret Twomey commended this as a positive development for not only the Fiji-Australia seasonal worker partnership, but also for women’s economic empowerment.
“With half of this group of workers bound for Australia being women, this is a reflection of the shared commitment that both our governments have toward women’s economic empowerment,” Ms Twomey said.
The seasonal workers have been recruited by Australian employer, Plant Grow Pick Ltd, and will be working on different farms in the Emerald (Queensland) and Euston (New South Wales) regions of Australia.
Fiji’s involvement in the Program began with the April 2015 signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in Suva between the Hon Jioji Konrote, 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 Program, through outreach to potential Australian employers and by delivering comprehensive training to the Ministry when Fiji first joined the Program.
Australia recently announced an expansion of the Seasonal Worker Program, to further increase the economic benefits of the Program to Pacific Island Countries. Under the expanded Program 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 working in Australia under the Seasonal Worker Programme to 94.