Australia’s Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme: managing vulnerabilities to exploitation

22 Nov 2011

This paper assesses the risks and protective factors for labour trafficking in the context of the Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme.

As part of the Australian Government’s response to trafficking in persons, the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has undertaken preliminary research to assess the risks and protective factors for labour trafficking and to identify matters for priority research. In this context, a literature review is presented of Australia’s Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme (PSWPS), which is designed to enable Pacific Islanders to temporarily work in the horticultural sector and following a recent announcement, to also allow East Timorese access to tourism work in Australia.

The paper is informed by literature relating to the longer running New Zealand Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) Program, supplemented with targeted stakeholder consultations conducted between 2008 and 2010 in the Pacific. At this early stage, the PSWPS is regarded as a positive development in the legal sourcing and use of overseas temporary labour but its planned growth will nonetheless be challenging. The RSE may provide valuable lessons for the recently announced expansion of the PSWPS and other temporary workers schemes for Pacific Islanders.

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