Prime Minister Turnbull announced the establishment of the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) at the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders' Meeting on 8 September 2017. The Scheme commenced on 1 July 2018 to help meet business demand in rural and regional Australia, where it is clear no Australians are available. It allows citizens of select Pacific island countries to apply for low and semi-skilled employment in Australia.
Australia's 'step-up' in the Pacific region was one of the highest priorities of Australia's Foreign Policy White Paper. Economic integration with Australia and New Zealand is important to the economic prospects of Pacific island countries.
The Pacific Labour Scheme is demand driven and will help fill labour gaps in Australia's towns and on our farms, boosting economic activity and competitiveness in rural and regional Australia. Labour market testing ensures an Australian-first approach. It will focus on industries with projected strong employment growth that match Pacific islanders' skill sets, such as the hospitality, tourism and aged-care sectors. The Scheme has a cap of 2,000 workers in 2018-19 and is currently open to workers from Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu.
A Pacific Labour Facility (PLF) will support workers to ensure that they are prepared to live and work in Australia. The PLF will connect Australian employers with Pacific island workers and support the administration of the Scheme.
Factsheets on both the Pacific Labour Scheme and Facility are available to download on this page.
The new Scheme complements the existing Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) which, since 2012 has given more than 25,000 seasonal jobs to workers from the Pacific and Timor-Leste. Savings and remittances from Australia's labour mobility initiatives pay for housing, education and support communities in Pacific island countries. A typical SWP worker saves and sends home over $8,850 after a season of work in Australia. This is over four times higher than they would ordinarily earn in their home countries.
Video: Pacific Labour Mobility Scheme