Tropical Cyclone Gita made landfall in Tonga on 12 February 2018, causing severe damage to the main island of Tongatapu. The cyclone damaged or destroyed almost 2,000 homes, caused the evacuation of over 4,500 people and left more than 80% of homes in Tonga without power. Australia is providing a comprehensive package of support to Tonga that includes addressing immediate needs, helping people return to their homes, reconnecting power throughout Tongatapu, and providing support to the island of 'Eua, which was also badly affected by the cyclone.
The value of having an Australian-recognised qualification is clearly not lost on the workers. Asked what value they saw in the training, the workers replied “We were so happy when they gave us the opportunity to get training that is officially recognised… Receiving the certificate gives us opportunities. It was something we dreamt about and now it has happened.”
One of the best parts of my job is meeting the workers from Kiribati, Tuvalu and Nauru, involved in the Program. I particularly enjoy seeing them grow into their new jobs and life in Australia. They make an astonishing journey coming to Australia, leaving behind their families, children and community. They do this for the opportunity to gain skills and experience, and ensure that their families have money for education, health and household needs.