Enhanced Protections and Safeguards for PALM scheme workers

The Albanese Labor Government is strengthening workplace protections for Pacific workers in Australia.

Under the new Deed and Guidelines for the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme, workers will benefit from enhanced safeguards that support regular income.

This includes minimum hours requirements, ensuring pay parity with domestic workers and greater transparency around accommodation costs and other deductions. 

The Government is committed to strengthening the PALM scheme so that it delivers for employers, Pacific workers and their families and communities in the Pacific.

Since coming to Government, we’ve increased the number of PALM workers in Australia from 24,500 in May 2022 to 38,180 by April 2023.

Approved Employers in the scheme will continue to have access to a pool of reliable, productive workers, to help fill labour gaps in rural and regional Australia, as well as in the agriculture and food processing sectors nationally, when enough local workers can’t be found.

The new Deed and Guidelines come after extensive consultation with stakeholders, including employer groups, industry representatives, unions, community groups, Approved Employers, Pacific and Timor-Leste governments, and the states and territories. 

Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Tony Burke, said this was about improving workers’ conditions.

“Central to this scheme’s success is that workers have a good experience of living and working here.

“Exploitation is always unacceptable.

“These changes will make a huge difference for workers, who may have otherwise been mistreated.” 

Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Pat Conroy, said the PALM scheme is vital to Australia’s engagement in the Pacific and Timor-Leste.

“Workers from the Pacific and Timor-Leste send home valuable remittances, and build skills and experience in key sectors, making a significant contribution to economic development in their countries, and helping to build a more prosperous region.

“We are delivering on our commitment to improve PALM and ensure it continues to have a positive impact for Australian employers, communities, and the Pacific family.” 

The Government is also consolidating the PALM scheme’s domestic operations within the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and is expanding its regional footprint, which will enable the PALM scheme to better support employers’ access to the program and workers on the ground.

The Department will undertake additional assurance and employer education activities to proactively identify employer non-compliance and stamp out any migrant worker exploitation.

The new Deed and Guidelines will be rolled out from July 2023.

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