Queensland communities welcome first PNG aged care workers to Australia

  • Joint media release with:
  • The Hon Anika Wells MP, Minister for Aged Care, Minister for Sport

The first group of workers from Papua New Guinea to be employed in Australia’s aged care sector under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme has arrived in regional Queensland.

The eight workers from PNG provinces including Western Highlands, New Ireland and Morobe will be employed by Southern Cross Care at aged care facilities at Chinchilla, Murgon and Taroom in Southeast Queensland, where local aged care staff have been hard to find.

The Albanese Government is continuing to build a skilled aged care workforce so that older people in Australia can receive high quality, safe care. More than 600 PALM scheme workers are working in residential aged care homes in Australia. The Government is supporting an additional 500 to attain formal aged care qualifications while working in Australia, with placements to start from this month.

This is the first time that PALM scheme workers from PNG have been employed in Australia’s aged care sector and demonstrates the Albanese Government’s commitment to supporting PNG’s ambitions to increase its participation in the PALM scheme.

There are 1,400 workers from PNG currently in Australia under PALM, working in a range of sectors such as agriculture and meat processing.

Of these, 625 workers are based in Queensland, contributing to the culture and vibrancy of local communities. PNG PALM workers have spent more than $2.5 million in Queensland communities since July 2018.

As a result of the Government’s commitment to expand and improve the PALM scheme, the total number of Pacific and Timor-Leste workers in Australia has risen from just over 24,400 a year ago to just over 38,000 today.

Quotes attributable to Minister for International Development and the Pacific, the Hon Pat Conroy MP:

“I had the pleasure of meeting some of these aged care workers on a recent visit to Port Moresby, and I know they will bring great warmth and enthusiasm to these important jobs in regional Queensland.

“I hope this paves the way for more PNG aged care workers to come to Australia, sending home remittances to their families, helping Australian regional communities facing labour shortages and bringing our people closer together.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Aged Care, the Hon Anika Wells MP:

“There are more than 600 PALM scheme workers in Australia’s aged care sector and they are making a great contribution to addressing workforce shortages, especially in regional areas.

“Pacific and Timorese workers have earned a positive reputation in the aged care sector, and now we welcome the first workers from Papua New Guinea. Their strong passion for caring will only enhance the wellbeing of the older Australians.”

Quotes attributable to Papua New Guinea High Commissioner to Australia, HE John Kali:

“Both Prime Minister Marape and Prime Minister Albanese, during their dialogue in January, during PM Albanese’s historical visit to PNG, recognised the urgent demand for aged care workers in Australia. Prime Minister Marape stated that Papua New Guineans, with their strong culture and natural upbringing in caring for their older family members would be a suitable source for providing this category of workers. He appealed for the relevant institutions to work together in developing willing Papua New Guineans to be trained and certified to take up these skilled jobs in Australia.”

“Papua New Guineans and Australians have always cared for each other during good and bad times and the arrival of these PNG workers further strengthens the strong bonds between our two countries.”

Quotes attributable to Southern Cross Care Queensland CEO, Jason Eldering:

“We face unique workforce challenges in rural and remote locations which are different to metropolitan areas, so these aged care workers will boost our staff numbers and help to fill the gap in our rural and remote aged care homes.”

“Our whole Southern Cross Care Queensland family, especially our rural and remote team, has been excitedly preparing for the arrival of the workers, they will receive a warm welcome and be supported as they settle into life in rural Queensland.”

“The addition of these new aged care workers will be highly valued by our residents and staff, and they will be greatly appreciated for their contributions. In turn, we hope they will find their experience with us one of immense value too.”

Quotes attributable to Western Downs Regional Council Mayor, Paul McVeigh:

“The Western Downs is proud to be a happy, inclusive community which thrives on our friendly nature and strong social connections."

"As a council, we continue to advocate for quality health and social services which ensure our residents can age in their community, and this program offers an opportunity to strengthen the local aged care sector while promoting the Western Downs as a fantastic place to call home."

Media enquiries

  • Minister's office: (02) 6277 7840
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