The initiative, facilitated by the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC), marks the first-ever training and fast-tracking program for Pacific workers and has garnered significant interest, with hundreds of applications received, SBS News reported.
The 12-week course offered by APTC has attracted 40 students, each motivated by a desire to help the elderly in their communities.
Traditionally, the Federal Government’s Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme (PALM) focused on agriculture and blue-collar industries, but it has expanded to include the aged care sector due to critical workforce shortages. Over 25,000 workers from the Pacific, including 2,600 from Fiji, have come to Australia through PALM.
Recognising the need for additional workers to meet the demands of the sector, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced plans to expand the scheme to include the families of workers.
To streamline the program, PALM will consolidate the separate worker visa streams into a single PALM visa, valid for up to four years and allowing multiple entries into Australia.
The program at APTC equips students with a Certificate III qualification and graduates are subsequently placed in aged care facilities across regional Queensland. Despite the program’s success, there is a substantial demand from aged care employers in Australia that currently exceeds the program’s capacity.
Prime Minister Albanese highlighted the economic benefits resulting from remittances sent by program participants to their home countries. He emphasised the practical partnership between Australia and the Pacific, whereby boosting the Pacific’s economy positively impacts Australia as well.