Nalati relishes Australian work opportunity

Thirty-four-year-old Waisake Nalati is envisioning the opportunities that will open up for his family and his modest piggery and dairy business when he returns from a 9-month stint in Australia under the Pacific Labour Scheme.

The budding entrepreneur from Naivisara, Burebasaga in Rewa is one of 22 Fijians whose departure formalities in Suva today were presided over by Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Employment Minister Praveen Bala.

Nalati is hopeful of amassing the capital he needs to expand his business, an endeavour he has not been able to realise because his wages from his day job in Suva are not enough to spread over beyond daily needs for his family that comprises his wife, their five-year-old daughter, and his elderly parents.

“It has been a long wait, and I look forward to the benefits for my family and the business that we have started to supplement our income,” Nalati said.

“I have waited two years for this. I was supposed to have gone two years ago, but COVID-19 happened, so we decided as a family to run an income-generating project to get by. In the two years, I found work at Rewa Dairy and have been there for a year, but it’s not enough to grow the business to the level that we would like as well as build our home. So my going away for nine months away from my loved ones is a worthwhile sacrifice.

“I am fortunate to have great support from home, it is largely because this was part of our plans all along, something that we decided together as a family to pursue. I am looking forward to the trip and the benefits it will bring for my family and I.”

Nalati and his 21 travelling countrymen will soon join nearly 3,000 Fijians who have taken up jobs in Australia, since January this year, under both the Seasonal Workers and Pacific Labour schemes.

Both initiatives Bala said have been massive for Fijians and as such requested Senator Wong to consider increasing Fiji’s workers’ quota under the two programs.

In addressing the 22 men, Wong talked about plans by the new Australian Government to improve working conditions and shared with them about a new visa, it plans to introduce for up to four years, which will allow recipients to take their families across.

“We understand how important access to our labour market is for Fijians and for the region and we want to strengthen that access,” Wong said.

“We want to strengthen that access. We want to give people more opportunities and we want to make sure people are treated well when they are in Australia because it is unacceptable that people are not. For many Pacific island nations, access to the Australian Labor Market is important economically and important for skills people get. It is also important for us. I met some downstairs who had been picking citrus in my state in South Australia.

“Our new government has new policies for Pacific Labour which will take us a bit of time to start. “

Senator Wong arrived in Fiji yesterday during which she met with Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna to layout plans and commitments the Anthony Albanese Government has in place for the Pacific including the longer-term visa.

Photo: Senator Wong shares a light moment with Nalati (in white shirt, to the right of Senator Wong), and Malakai Mira (to Nalati’s right) who are among the 22 Fijians preparing to depart for work in Australia. Mira, aged 36 years, the trip will be his second under the scheme. He was part of the first lot of Fijians to go to Australia when the PLS opened in 2018, to pick citrus in South Australia.

Senator Wong

this is something that we have been planning together and

“As a family, we want to renovate our home and

For the budding entrepreneur from Naivisara, Burebasaga in Rewa had been running his business for more than a year, capital to expand his business has been hard to come by.

He was t

warm by the his 9-month stint in Australia

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