The Labour Mobility Assistance Programme (L.M.A.P.) funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to support the 10 countries that participated in the Australia’s Seasonal Worker Program has been officially launched.
Carolyn Peterken of the L.M.A.P. is in the country to inform the new component operated by its government to assist labour sending countries like Samoa.
The Labour Mobility Assistance Programme (L.M.A.P.) provides assistance to countries participating in the Seasonal Workers Programme (S.W.P.) to improve the supply and quality of seasonal workers, strengthen linkages with Australian employers and maximise development impacts of the S.W.P.
It is believed that everyone who registered with Seasonal Employers in 2015 and 2016 will be asked to undertake a fitness test and those who have registered in the recent 2017 round, won’t be included at this point.
“We are leaning more and more about what the employers want,” Carolyn said.
“We had a number of seasonal worker conferences which gave us the opportunity to talk increasingly to employers about what they are looking for in their workers.
“They are also clarifying their views on what they need.
“The very clear feedback from employers in horticulture, agriculture, and other sectors is that physical and mental fitness is at the top of their priority...right attitude, work well in the team, can undertake this work day after day.
“So attitude is important and a level of English language is also very important.
The Australian programme has been going since 2012.
“We are learning year by year, how to improve so we are responding to the feedback from the employers.
“There is a minimum age of 21 and that’s to do with our Industrial Relation Law but there is no maximum age.
“Some employers will suggest that they prefer workers of a certain age, but as long as people are still fit and able to do the work, there isn’t a maximum cut off.
“We have been lucky enough to have nurses from the N.H.S. who have attended to do some basic medical testing.
“But if workers are eventually selected to go to Australia, they would still have to undertake a full medical examination, ensuring that people are free from any medical condition that is likely to flare up in Australia.
“This is very critical.
Moreover she said that “It’s important to emphasize the screening that does not mean that people have been selected to go”
“It’s a process that everyone who is registered in the work in 2015 or 2016 will undertake over the next couple of months and then eventually it will roll up to the people who have applied in the recent applications process.
“So we have been piloting the process in Upolu and over in Savaii yesterday. The plan is that they will start in full in the couple of week’s time, so over next week there will be some announcement to make about the timing of the test and where people can find out about where and when they will be tested.
“You can imagine with the large number of people...it’s a lot of work for the seasonal employment unit to organise people into groups, so that will take place in the next few days.”
“The test should start from mid May and properly run through until early or mid June.
Carolyn visits Samoa every couple of months to work with the S.E.U. to improve their processes.
Aside from supporting the fitness assessments she has worked with the Seasonal Employment Unit to develop systems and processes to strengthen the registration process and better manage data on registered applicants.
She is also providing them with training and materials to improve their pre-departure briefings before workers head to Australia
Samoa’s Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Agafili Shem Leo confirmed that four thousand applicants for the Recognised Seasonal Employers scheme in New Zealand and Australia are now on the table.
“This is to inform the public of the new component of the Labour Mobility Assistance Programme,” Agafili said.
“The programme is to assist labour sending countries like Samoa with strengthening of the selection process and also the preparation to the briefing.
“It’s very important the public is in informed according to this new component which is the fitness test and also to talk about other recent developments under seasonal worker programme.