Making Use of Oppotunity to Work in Australia Count: A Reflection

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OPPOTUNITIES do not come so often and Solomon Islanders who have the chance to go and work in Australia are so fortunate according to Lyn Gale.

Mrs Gale who lived in Melbourne, Australia for 21 years, have been working in Insurance as an IT system administrator for 14 years now.

Mrs Gale who spoke to Women’s paper from Australia on the positive side of the scheme due to some criticism and negativity around the scheme and the people who engage in the programme.

“I just wanted to point out that you can make good out of criticisms,’’ she said in a Char interview.

The Mother of two have recently visited three locations where Solomon Island workers lived and working following inquiries by women’s media paper seeking some clarifications on criticisms about the scheme.

“I visited the three locations not because I want a story to write about but because they were my country folks. I went to chat and share a meal just like we do in Solomon Islands, a homely atmosphere,’’ she said.

The first group she visited was in Mildura 600 km out of Melbourne.

“By coincidence, a BBQ event was arranged by the SI folks and so it gathered Solomon islanders around the area including those who are working under the scheme. Many are glad for the opportunity to earn money.

“The second place I visited was Boneo about 140km south east of Melbourne. The house they lived in was owned by a farmer and close to where they work,’’ she added.

“They paid around AUS$115 per week/ per person / per bed plus transport and they also have to pay back on instalments the expenses accumulated from visa, travel expense, phones etc..,” Mrs Gale told Women’s paper.

She said that they have to work in the first weeks in order to pay all that back, because of that they have little money that remain in their pocket.

“They were happy that we visited them and connected with them. They worked in the straw berry farm, out door in the cold sun or rain. They expressed shock to their bodies initially but they say will get used to it. Their visa is for nine months,” she stated.

Mrs Gale and Mr Gale who moved to Australia at the heat of the ethnic tension in 2000 also said the third place they visited was Ararat 192 km North-West of Melbourne.

“These group worked at the meat factory in Ararat. They seem to have positive vibe about their work place and their life in Ararat. They are protected from the sun or the rain. Their work visa is for three years,’’ said Mrs Gale.

According to Mrs Gale, to earn and save money for themselves a minimum stay and work for nine months would be ideal.

“One of them has suggested that a liaison officer should be appointed in each state to facilitate their needs, answer their questions, organise cheaper rentals, travelling and so forth,” said Gale.

“I am working with a group for the Fair Work Ombudsman on documents for our Solomon islands seasonal workers and pacific labour. For example their minimum pay, fair treatment at work, etc.

“This is a season for us Solomon islanders who have this opportunity to come and work in Australia during the pandemic. These opportunities do not come often so while we are here or waiting for flights to come to Australia, stay focus on important and productive goals,’’ said Mrs Gale.

“What we make here will surely help us to start somewhere when we return home. But if we don’t, this would be a waste of time and opportunity,’’ cautioned Gale.

She stated that she sees this as a real opportunity to make a head start in life as demonstrated by some of the worker.

“They were disciplined on how they use their money and have achieved great goals. Their families were well off than before. This work is seasonal and as the name suggested, they may not have this opportunity again in the future. It is worth their while to make it count,” Mrs Gale uttered.

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