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23 Feb 2022

Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson, The Guardian

Vanuatu: Govt. launches inquiry on the country’s labour programs after workers in Australia testified on exploitative working conditions

"Vanuatu government launches inquiry into labour schemes after testimony from workers in Australia", 23 February 2022

The Vanuatu government has launched an inquiry into the country’s labour mobility programs, including the seasonal worker program in Australia, citing concerns around safety.

The inquiry comes in the wake of testimony from Vanuatu seasonal workers in Australia to a parliamentary hearing earlier this month, in which they alleged they had experienced bullying, exploitative working conditions, poor housing arrangements and lack of support services while under the scheme.

Australia’s Pacific labour mobility initiatives – the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) – support Pacific and Timorese workers to take up jobs in rural and regional Australia, particularly in the agricultural sector.

There are roughly 4,500 Vanuatu workers in Australia under the scheme based on the 2019 and 2020 numbers by the Vanuatu government.