MFAET officials in Australia on SWP workshop

By Gary Hatigeva

OFFICIALS at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade from the Seasonal Workers Programme (SWP) are currently in Australia under the invitation of the Growcom, an association of growers and farmers in the Queensland state for a workshop and interaction based on the scheme.

It is revealed that Solomon Islands is amongst other participating countries of the workers scheme, most of which have the lowest number recruitment in the programme.

These countries include officials from responsible ministries in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste.

Insiders revealed that these countries have been invited to attend a workshop hosted by the Growcom, with the intention to allow for participating nations to interact while at the same time work on promoting why these farmers (Members of the Association) should recruit from their countries.

Queensland is a popular state in Australia and around the world, known for its mass contribution to the global food and other farming products and a lot of those that aren’t members yet have now shown high interests in the program.

“A lot of the farmers in Queensland have heard of the Seasonal Workers Scheme and have shown interests to join, and with their involvement would also mean more opportunities for participating countries of the scheme,” sources explained.

It is further revealed that in the workshop, participating officials have basically tried to promote their workers and place on the negotiating table what sort of workers they have to offer for farmers under the scheme, also at the same time enlighten the association on the recruitment process that each nations have in place and other related areas.

That according to officials, will give Solomon Islands an edge as to why these farmers should think about recruiting from the country.

No hard and fast expectations but initial discussions and negotiations with the Association have already started and some of the farmers are not part of the scheme yet but are interested because they have difficulty in recruiting locally.

Insiders added that most farmers in Australia are also finding it hard to recruit even with backpackers who are their regular employees, but are said to be unreliable and inconsistent workers.

New Zealand farmers have also shown high interests in workers from these nations and are keen on doing similar initiative, but have quota and are therefore restricted.

It is understood that officials from the Foreign Affairs Ministry have held regular visits to farms in both Australia and New Zealand as part of their pastoral care obligations and our participating officials are expected to do that next week with the country’s current employers.

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