The Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS), organized by the Australian Government to allow Pacific islanders to work up to three years in Australia, has gained a lot of interest from a lot of islanders, especially here in Vanuatu.
A few workers have already departed the country to undergo work in Australia under this scheme in horticulture and abattoir work.
A lot of potential workers gathered in the sun yesterday at Independence Park while the Department of Labour staff briefed 100 workers at a time inside the Patton Memorial Church's Owen Hall, across the road.
Daily Post spoke to a few people seeking this opportunity and many of them gave several reasons why they found it worthy to stand all day in the hot sun to get a chance to travel.
Steven Iatika says family is his priority for seeking this opportunity to work in Australia. The 27-year-old says his goal is to start a business if he is able to go to Australia and work for 3 years. The father of 2 says having a job and working for other people does provide money to feed his family but not enough money to take an extra step and further develop their living.
The young man from Tanna says he also wants to build his family a home as he doesn’t want to rent forever. So going to Australia is the only way to achieve his goals.
Iatika also says Vanuatu claims to have graduated from the least developed country status to the developing country status, however he says in reality, nothing has changed as the minimum wage is still that of a least developed country and not enough for an average Ni Vanuatu to sustain themselves.
Compared to New Zealand’s Recognized Seasonal Employment (RSE) scheme and Australia’s Seasonal Workers Program (SWP), the former Discount Hardware employee says he trusts the PLS scheme as it is done by the labour department themselves and not the agents like RSE and SWP.
He alleged the agents practice a lot of nepotism, which he has come across. He also mentioned that a few agents are still breaking the law and charging consulting fees, although he did not name them.
Iatika has no problem in leaving his family for three years as he says trust is the most important thing needed in family life and when it is there, something good can be achieved through sacrifices made.
Lizzie Temerkon says she wants to go because there is no good opportunity to make good money in the country. The former P&O cruise ship worker says, after COVID-19 ruined the cruise ship industry, PLS is the only way to go.
The mother of two says being away from her kids is no big deal as she has already spent a long time away from them while working as a bar tender on these cruise ships. The 34-year-old says she always communicated well with them and they are used to her absence.
The Ambrym lady’s husband is also away in New Zealand under the RSE scheme so she says they are both putting an effort into creating a better future for their children.
Temerkon says the Department of Labour is not looking at selecting a certain number of workers for PLS as the decision on numbers will be decided based on requirements of the Australian Government and employers' requirements.
Moli Bethel from Moso Island off Efate’s coast says these days there have been a lot of land sales on the island and there is not enough land left for everyone.
The 34-year-old says he needs money to buy himself land and also to look after his mother.
The current manager of Design Impax says COVID-19 has affected business so leaving Vanuatu is the only way to make good money. Bethel is single, without kids and does not have to worry about missing anyone while away. Bethel does not fear COVID-19 and says they should be fine if they all keep safe by following instructions.
Keith Andrew is 21 years old and just qualifies for the scheme as 21 is the minimum age. The barber who is single without kids wants to build himself a house and knows the only way to make good money to do that is to leave Vanuatu for three years.
The Paama boy encourages other young people in his situation to make use of these opportunities before they get married and have kids.
Jeremiah Saula also believes it is important to have a house before getting married and having kids so the book keeper from Futuna wants to travel overseas for that particular reason.
The 33-year-old also wants to return to Mountain View University in the Phillipines and complete his ITC degree which he had to put aside due to lack of funds. He also wants to start up his own business once he has graduated which is the other reason why he wants to make good money overseas.
Saula is also concerned about his aging parents and as the eldest he wants to make good money to take good care of them.