Pacific islander workers set to be joined in Australia by families in 2023-24

Pacific islanders are generally not a great problem to anyone so this is a pretty good idea. Melanesians are a particularly desirable group. I grew up with them around (mostly TIs) and rather liked them.

Polynesians can be more of a problem. Maori are Polynesians and they have a high crime rate. Polynesians such as Tongans and Samoans are however generally very religious so that has a beneficial influence. The crime rate in Tonga is a small fraction of the crime rates in African populations. See here

The Australian government has committed to enabling Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme workers on one- to four-year placements to bring their families to Australia.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said family accompaniment was "expected to commence with up to 200 families of PALM scheme workers in 2023-24".

"The location of families will depend on the interest from PALM scheme workers and employers participating in the initial phase. This may include several regions across Australia," it said.

But there is a lot to sort out before the first families arrive — Pacific Islands Council of South Australia chief executive Tukini Tavui says there are about 800 long-term PALM workers in the state alone.

He said accommodation was a hot topic during the national stakeholder consultations that ended in November. "As you would imagine, there's a lot of challenges, a lot of restrictions in that space," Mr Tavui said. "So that would obviously be a deciding factor in terms of where [the government] would start a pilot.

"And then, obviously, the family support — how do the secondary [visas work] in terms of health and education?"

The families will not have access to Medicare, meaning employers will need to organise health insurance.

Mr Tavui says Naracoorte near the border of Victoria in the south, where many long-term PALM workers are employed, could be a good place to host the first families.

"Somewhere like Naracoorte looks like it has the capacity, but accommodation would be a challenge," Mr Tavui said.

"That might be the case in a lot of our regional areas, particularly in SA."

Teys Australia employs 137 Pacific workers in Naracoorte and another 1,500 along the east coast of Australia.

The company said in a statement that it was "actively considering how it might support families from the Pacific to settle permanently in Australia".

Alongside affordable housing, schooling and health care, Teys listed welfare support, including community and church groups, as key considerations for the government.

Naracoorte-Lucindale Mayor Patrick Ross said the town would be "totally lost" without its migrant workers.

He said it would be "incredibly difficult" to house the families of workers in any region and that council was looking at strategies.

Mr Ross said schools would welcome new students with "open arms".

Mr Tavui said people had been enquiring about family accompaniment visas since early 2021. "There's clearly more than 60 per cent of workers who are here, with families back home, who'd be interested," he said. "[It] obviously comes with quite a lot of excitement."

Mr Tavui said families would likely be allowed to stay for as long as the term of an applicant's employment.

"I think, from the last conversation, there's definitely an intention to allow a family to stay in the country for the same duration as the primary visa holder, whilst obviously looking at some of the challenges around that in terms of whether the work runs out," he said.

DFAT said consultations about detailed policy design would take place in the first quarter of 2023.

"The Australian government is listening to the views of Pacific and Timor-Leste governments and other key stakeholders to shape the implementation of this policy," it said.


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