Ten Solomon Islanders, who travelled to Australia at the end of May, received training on Work, Health, and Safety (WHS) measures for the Australian construction industry as part of a partnership between the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) and the Labour Mobility Unit supported by the Pacific Labour Facility (PLF) in the Solomon Islands.
The participants will be employed as semi-skilled workers in Australia under the PLF-administered Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS). The PLS is an Australian Government labour mobility initiative, which enables workers from Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste to work in rural and regional Australia in approved areas of employment for up to three years.
The virtual training helped participants learn about mitigating safety, security, and health risks while working abroad. It also included an introduction to workplace construction policies, potential hazards, risk identification and management, incident reporting, responsibility for workers’ safety, and penalties.
One of the participants, Greg Douglas, said the training has advanced his knowledge and skills to identify hazards and think of safety at work, particularly in an Australian context, where WHS guidelines are strongly regulated.
“I have realised it is important to be aware of hazards, to think about the types of risks, and to be familiar with personal protective equipment and other preventative measures, to be prepared and to be mindful of my health. This training was useful and practical for me.”
Another participant, Mefolyn Buania from Mbaelelea in the Malaita Province shared how the training helped open her eyes to the nature of the work in Australia.
“It is important to understand the rules of the workplace, particularly when it comes to our safety, health and welfare and the teams we work with. There is a reason why we have WHS regulations as these rules will support our safety in Australia and our safe return to the Solomon Islands,” she said.
She also thanked the Australian Government and the PLS for the opportunity to experience work abroad.
“The PLS provides hope for employment for women and marginalised groups. I am encouraging those selected in this program to work together, and to set a positive record for those who are in the line behind us.”
APTC Country Director for the Solomon Islands and Kiribati, Abigail Chang, said the training designed through APTC’s experiences in Australia and the Pacific, will prepare the workers to mitigate safety, security, and health risks while working abroad as well as upon their return to the Solomon Islands.
She added that APTC is delighted to work with the Solomon Islands Labour Mobility Unit, the PLF and the Solomon Islands Labour Mobility Support program to train workers leaving for Australia.
Employees of Tongs Corporation and Reeves International are also undergoing similar training.
Expressions of interest for future training sessions are to be submitted to the APTC Country Office in Honiara.