Women leading and influencing



15 November: Women's Leadership in the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Scheme

Friday, 4 November 2022

Event time, date: 12:00pm - 1:30pm (AEDT), Tuesday 15 November 2022

Location: Online, please register to attend


Labour mobility programs that enable foreign workers to fill labour shortages in Australia and New Zealand on a short-medium term basis have long been considered a ‘triple win’ for Pacific workers and their families (who benefit from the opportunity to earn income abroad), Australian employers (who use Pacific workers to fill labour shortages) and the economies of Australia and participating Pacific Islands countries.  

Despite being a historically male-dominated program, the participation of women in the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme’s long-term visa is steadily increasing from approximately 15% during COVID to 20% and remaining steady. This is despite high-volume recruitments in male-dominant industry (horticulture and meat processing) during boarder closures and slow re-engagement from female-dominant industry (aged care and hospitality and tourism) 

Research and lived experience of employers and workers attest to the fact that women have unique needs, skills and attributes that need to be considered for them to fulfil their potential and make the most out of their time in Australia. They also need tailored support to successfully reintegrate back into their home countries and leverage their time in Australia to the benefit of their families and communities. 

This panel discussion will:

  • examine the experience and contribution of women and gender non-binary workers in the PALM scheme, 
  • explore safeguards and strategies needed to maximise the role of women and gender non-binary workers, 
  • look at ways in which women’s participation in labour mobility schemes is affecting their confidence and agency, including their ability to make decisions that affect their own lives.  
  • showcase examples of women in labour mobility who are building skills in Australia, investing remittances, and maximising these skills and economic success upon return to their home countries and communities. 

Expert Panellists 

  • Kristy NowlandGender Equality, Disability & Social Inclusion ManagerPacific Labour Facility  
  • Kerry McCarthy, Farmer and Worker Welfare Lead, Approved Employers of Australia 
  • Mele Leapai, Worker Support Coordinator, Pacific Labour Facility 
  • Dulcie Pania, QLD Regional Coordinator, Pacific Island Council of Queensland (PICQ) 
  • SioneVaka, Country Liaison Officer, Pacific Labour Mobility, Tonga 

Event outline

12:00pm Welcome and acknowledgement of country, Australia Awards Women Leading and Influencing
12:10pm Welcome from Carli Shillito, Assistant Secretary, Pacific Labour Policy and Engagement BranchDFAT 
12.15pm Celebrating 1,000 women in the Pacific Labour Scheme 
12:30pm Facilitated expert panel discussion led by Kristy NowlandGender Equality, Disability & Social Inclusion ManagerPacific Labour Facility 
1:00pm Plenary Q&A
1:20pm Thanks and wrap up, Australia Awards Women Leading and Influencing  
1:30pm Session close