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PALM workers kicking goals in regional communities


After a hiatus of nearly a decade, a local rugby team is playing again, and winning, thanks to a group of enthusiastic new residents.


Under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM Scheme) workers from of our Pacific Island neighbours come to Australia on temporary migration visas to work, primarily in regional communities, in sectors including meat and food processing across Australia.


Queensland regional centre Kingaroy is home to around 200 workers from Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa and the Solomon Islands, brought to Australia by PeopleIN’s labour solutions business FIP Group to work at Australia’s largest pig processing facility, Swickers. Workers enter the PALM scheme to gain employment not available at home. They earn to support themselves and their families in their home countries, creating opportunities to purchase property and send children to school, opportunities they may not have been able to afford had the not come to Australia.


With a focus on providing a better future for their families and themselves, integrating into communities isn’t always easy. But, as FIP Group’s Jaslyn Wiles explains, that’s where sport comes in.


“Rugby is a source of passion for many people from Pacific nations and the chance to play in their adopted home is one they jumped at,” Jaslyn said.

“Kingaroy’s South Burnett Thrashers actually ceased playing for nearly 10 years due to a lack of players. That all changed last year though when the team full of our players, and locals too, returned to the field and this year they’re having a successful season both on and off the field.”

Sport is helping PALM workers make closer connections with their communities in other parts of the country too with rugby league teams in Corowa and Gundagai, both in New South Wales, adding our workers to their playing squads.


Back to Queensland and the small town of Kilcoy now has a thriving indoor soccer competition with six teams made up of PALM workers employed at the local abattoir. FIP Group Value Partner Kelly Hay says it not just sport but also cultural displays which have endeared them to the local community.


“Our workers put on singing and dancing performances at the council run Christmas Carnival and I’ve been approached a number of times since for them to perform at different community events,” Kelly said.

“They’re also playing both indoor soccer and rugby and after some of the games they bring traditional foods from their home country for their team mates to try.”


The PALM scheme provides Pacific Islander workers with jobs, income and opportunities to increase their skills. In return Australian industry gains a pool of productive workers who help fill labour gaps in regional Australia. But the workers involvement in sport, cultural and community activities is also helping them become an important part of these communities; the re-emergence of the South Burnett Thrashers is just one example of how these workers are adding passion, diversity and colour to the communities in which they live.

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