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Pacific Immigration Explore Regional Labour Mobility
IMMIGRATION officials from across the Pacific are meeting this week to discuss how their agencies can support labour mobility efforts to contribute to development and regionalism.
 
 Topics covered include the Australia and New Zealand seasonal worker schemes and the role of trade agreements in supporting labour mobility.
 
The Pacific Immigration Director Conference (PIDC) and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat are hosting the event. 
 
A statement from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat stated the PIDC was using this workshop as a springboard towards the development of a labour mobility support framework.
 
Republic of the Marshall Islands Ministry of Justice Division of Immigration director Damien Jacklick and Vice-Chair of PIDC said labour mobility, as one of the key economic drivers for the Pacific islands, would naturally require movements of people across borders.
 
"This is where immigration agencies can work to support the development and implementation of national labour mobility policies as countries that both send and receive migrant workers," Mr Jacklick said in the PIFS statement.
 
"Labour mobility is a critical issue in our region.  It can create jobs and serve as an important source of income and remittances.  
 
"Notably, Australia and New Zealand have introduced a number of schemes to enable Pacific islanders to work in those countries.
 
"In recognising this and the importance of collaborating with national labour agencies, our members are working towards developing a PIDC Framework that will guide and inform our engagement with existing stakeholders, at national and regional levels, to maximise better use of resources," PIDC Secretariat head Ioane Alama said.
 
The PIFS stated that the Forum Secretariat was working with the PIDC Secretariat as a key partner to advance last year's Pacific Islands Forum Leaders? decision, to explore ways to increase the development benefits that flow from labour mobility in the region.
 
The Forum stated that challenges, including a shortage of employment opportunities and geographical distance from markets, in the Forum?s Smaller Islands States saw their leaders recognised labour mobility at their recent meeting in Samoa as a critical development issue that they wished to see addressed.
 
Auseuga Lagavale Uiti, a seasonal worker from Samoa who attended the workshop had shared the experience of his village, Poutasi in the district of Falealili, which approached New Zealand's Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme as a collective, more than 10 years ago.
 
The PIFS stated that for families of workers in Samoa, the (RSE) scheme had meant the capacity to pay for university fees, build homes and improve churches, and raise capital for business ventures in transport, farming and animal husbandry. 
 
While in New Zealand, workers managed to complete literacy, numeracy, business and leadership courses.
 
It stated that through the village process, successful applicants must plant 5000 dalo tops and seven trees before leaving. Misbehavior in New Zealand can mean a significant fine for the family back home or a five-year recruitment ban on one's village.
 
"We are very careful when recruiting: discipline is paramount. Before they leave, they undergo training to make sure they are fit, they learn about relevant laws. They take the Samoa culture with them," Mr Uiti said.
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