Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

Increase in demand for Bougainvillean seasonal workers in Australia

Thirty-two Bougainvilleans, 22 men and 10 women, between the ages of 20 and 40, have recently departed PNG for seasonal work in Australia under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme.

A first group of 10 Bougainvillean women departed earlier this year and are working at Hillwood Berries farms in Tasmania. They will be joined by the 10 women in this second group.  The 22 men will be employed by the Redlea Citrus farm in Queensland.

“This is a life-changing opportunity for Bougainvilleans and has huge potential to contribute to economic development for the region.  We look forward to the economic benefits this will provide for families and communities in Bougainville," said MP Tsiamalili.

“It goes beyond economic growth; the experience gained by the young individuals involved is invaluable. The exposure they receive cannot be measured solely in monetary terms. This unique aspect holds immense value, shaping the mindset and providing worth to the future generation of leaders in Bougainville.”

MP Tsiamalili acknowledged the high level of coordination and support from his office and the ABG Department of Commerce, Trade, Industry and Economic Development through Australia’s Bougainville Partnership program.

Shirley Phillips, team leader for the first cohort of women currently employed by Hillwood Berries in Tasmania said, “this is an opportunity that one can only dream of, and being part of this is like waking up in a dream.  I am looking forward to benefiting from this and seeing the benefits for my family too.”

“Most of us have made sacrifices to be here, we are leaving families behind, our children, husbands and wives, parents and siblings but we want the best for our families. It is a privilege, and we are very grateful indeed for the opportunity to participate and benefit from the labour mobility program.”

Dr Fiona Crockford, First Secretary, Australian Development Assistance, Bougainville, said: “It is very encouraging to hear that many labour mobility workers invest in their families and communities and contribute to their local economies as a result of being part of the PALM scheme.” She added that Australia’s investment in the BLMU initiative aligns with the Autonomous Bougainville Government's economic development vision, creating opportunities for income generation, service delivery and an improved quality of life for all Bougainvilleans. 

Participants for the seasonal work placements are selected through a transparent process closely coordinated with local churches. A list of potential candidates is submitted to owners of fruit farms in Australia, who make the final selection of workers to work on their farms.

The demand by and for Bougainvilleans under the PALM scheme has been high and the numbers travelling to work in Australia under the BLMU initiative is expected to increase in 2024.

Cohort 2 of Bougainville seasonal workers who have travelled to Australia to work on Tasmanian and Queensland farms.

For further information, including access to related materials, please contact the Australian High Commission media team: +675 7090 0100