More than 3,000 people from Timor-Leste and the Pacific will be allowed to migrate yearly to Australia starting mid-2023 once they get a Pacific Engagement Visa (PEV).
This is an exciting development for those in the Pacific region and those already involved in the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme.
However, experts urged the Australian government to establish vital support infrastructure for the PEV so that migrants can be supported in their transitions in the country. The COVID-19 pandemic also underscored the need for effective support infrastructure because it revealed that these systems for migrants were inadequate.
Migrants usually navigate bureaucratic processes and systems in their new residence, such as laws, financial and social services, Australian language, culture, and terminology, the Fair Work Ombudsman, electricity and power charges, communication systems and others. To avoid these in Australia, effective briefing systems should be in place.
The Australian government must also understand the culture of the migrants arriving in the country. Migrants who come from the Pacific decide based on collective rather than individualistic notions. But migration to individualistic societies includes the cultivation of new expectations of self-responsibility. These differences can be a barrier to foreign support systems, especially those that require sharing personal information with strangers or transactions with money.
A better and more holistic approach must be done to understand the nature of the experience of migration in Australia. This is also needed so that the government could develop a better support infrastructure for migrants.
In fact, migrants must be always treated with respect, must be given the chance to work with ethical employers, and receive appropriate support mechanisms regarding culture. The respect goes both ways: it should be extended to their employers and the places they relocate to. Doing so enables mutual benefits.
Lastly, allocating more funding should be done to support PEV migrants. What’s more, companies, particularly their human resources (HR) staff should be trained to support PEV migrants.