Gaining Skills and Building Business—The Pacific Labour Scheme Embraces Diversity


By Nick Volk, Team Leader of the DFAT-funded pastoral care support program, managed by Palladium for the Pacific Microstates – Northern Australia Worker Pilot Program.


I have had the privilege to write about my work with Australia’s labour mobility programs and the achievements of the workers before. Today I would like to talk about the employers who support these programs and are committed to working with Pacific island countries to provide opportunities for workers where they are unable to find Australians.

Mulpha Australia Ltd, the owner of Hayman Island, was the first employer to participate in the Northern Australia Worker Pilot Program, and is now an employer under the Pacific Labour Scheme. A strong advocate for the program, it has impressed me repeatedly with its commitment to workers and to the development of an inclusive workforce.

With 36 workers currently on Hayman Island, it is so far the largest employer under the Pacific Labour Scheme and the earlier pilot program. With Hayman Island Resort re-opening in 2019 after its redevelopment, the company is expecting to recruit an additional 70 workers covering a full range of occupations such as housekeeping, kitchen stewards and trades assistants. Allan Renkema, Executive General Manager of Human Resources, has been a strong advocate of the Scheme stating that “without these programs we would not have access to a stable workforce, hampering our ability to deliver the excellent service expected on the island.”

On a recent recruitment trip to Tuvalu, Mulpha demonstrated its commitment to diversity and inclusion, interviewing a number of candidates with a disability and offering positions to two individuals. Additionally over 65 percent of the candidates selected were women. This presents a significant opportunity for these individuals to work in Australia, gaining skills and building savings to send home to their families.

Tuvalu interview candidates
Credit: Jonathon Granger

“We are committed to providing an inclusive workforce, with a good gender balance and a wide range of skills and experience,” Mr Renkema said. “Going forward we will aim for future recruitments to include workers with disability. Obviously this will depend upon the type of roles we are recruiting for and the nature of the disability, but we are committed to equity and diversity in our Pacific Island workforce.”

The results of the recruitment round indicate that Tuvalu, although one of the smallest Pacific Islands, is well equipped to compete with its larger neighbours. The Department of Labour in Tuvalu is expanding with two new staff joining the team. This will ensure future Australian employers under Australia’s labour mobility programs can conduct recruitment missions with confidence. “Tuvalu has shown that they are well organised and can provide candidates with good levels of English and appropriate work experience,” Mr Renkema said. “We look forward to returning later this year for another recruitment round.”

I look forward to welcoming the new employees recruited from the recent visit to Tuvalu. It is incredibly rewarding to work on a scheme that directly and positively impacts people’s lives and helps Australian businesses in remote areas find the workers they need.

Employees from DFAT, the Tuvalu Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade, Tourism, Environment & Labour, and Mulpha working together for a successful recruitment under the Pacific Labour Scheme.
Credit: Wensdae Lucas

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