SOLOMON Islands is now one of the top 3 countries, after Vanuatu and Tonga, on the number of workers arriving in Australia since the restart of the Seasonal Workers Programme (SWP) and the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) late last year.
Four Solomon Airline chartered flights, carrying 500 workers, have landed in Australia since November 2020.
The last two flights landed in Sydney early April and 184 workers disembarked and were quarantined for 14 days and then deployed to farms, packaging houses and meat-work places in New South Wales.
220 more are expected later this month.
“At the rate we are going we should hit 2000 before the end of the year. That would exceed our numbers in New Zealand, if that has not yet been the case. I look forward to meeting them after they have settled down in their places of work,” an excited and happy Robert Sisilo, Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Australia, said.
Since he was posted to Canberra in January 2020, Mr Sisilo has put labour mobility and trade with Australia as his number one priority.
With the COVID-19 restrictions on movement across states now easing, Mr Sisilo is on the road driving thousands of kilometres to Sydney and Brisbane and the vast countryside of New South Wales and Queensland meeting our workers and their employers.
Recently Mr Sisilo was in Victoria and met workers and their employers in Mildura, Robinvale, Red Cliffs, Ararat, Warragul and Moe.
He also met the SI community (diaspora) in Mildura and Melbourne.
Together with the officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade and the Department of Education, Skills and Employment in Canberra, they will visit SI workers and their employers in Tasmania this month.
This Australian Labour Mobility program remains one of the great initiatives that provides employment to Solomon Island workers, generate income and empowers them to participate meaningfully in both economic and development activities.
“It’s a clear demonstration of how strong our relations with Australia have become, either because of COVID-19 or it’s just the way it should be as very close neighbours. Or both. It creates a 4-win situation – you the worker, the farmer, Solomon Islands and Australia.
“So let’s just get on with the work and all the best in your new homes away from homes,” Mr Sisilo told a group of workers he met in Mildura, Victoria recently.