Two Samoans thriving in aged care work

Two Samoans working in Australia say their life has not been disrupted by the COVID-19 global pandemic, as the Government considers repatriating citizens and students in Australia wanting to return home.

Visor Auvele and Rachel Sale are personal care workers at the Bolton Clarke’s Cunningham Villas, which is a residential aged care community in the coastal Queensland town of Bowen, and have worked in Australia since last year through the Pacific Labour Scheme [P.L.S.].

They both possess an Australian-standard Certificate III in Community Services qualifications and say, through a statement, that they take pride in bringing Samoan cultural and social traditions around caring for older people to their jobs in Bowen.

“Bowen is beautiful, it takes me closer to home. There’s coconut, hibiscus, flowers and no traffic. We’re working in a safe, warm environment – it’s a good thing to wake up to,” Mrs. Auvele said in the statement. 

The responsibility of taking care of the residents of the Bolton Clarke’s Cunningham Villas has also helped them cope with the uncertainty of living through the pandemic.

Mrs Sale reiterated that the skill of taking care of the elderly is applicable in both Samoa and Australia.

“In Samoa we don’t have aged care, we look after our own elderly people. There’s no difference in how I care for people here [in Australia] to how I cared for my granny when she was alive. The best medicine is to entertain them. I sing and dance with them.”

The women’s employment in Australia during the pandemic has also enabled them to financially support their families back in Samoa.

“We have a lot of land back at home, so I have been sending money to my parents so they can plant more crops for themselves. That way, in six months they won’t have to call me and ask for more money," Mrs Auvele added.

Mrs Sale has also been remitting money home to her family to purchase livestock and contribute to their upkeep.

“To begin with, I saved money for rent and living expenses. Then I sent the rest to my family in Samoa to run our farm. After that I bought them three cows, and I’ve just sent money for a fourth,” she said.

As the Samoa Government recently announced the cancellation of all international travel, Mrs. Auvele and Mrs. Sale are planning to stay on in Australia to continue working and supporting their families.

“This is my blessing and it is an achievement for my life and my family. I want to promote the standard of my country and keep up the good reputation of my country,” Mrs. Sale added.

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