The staff of the Department of Labour now have a bigger office equipped with resources to meet the increasing demand of labour services, after many years of using a limited space that does not protect them when it rains.
Their new office is a refurnished old government building near the Ministry of Internal Affairs at Independence Park. The Australian Government, through the Pacific Labour Facility (PLF), provided over VT75 million for the refurbishment.
Part of the funding was used to construct a new training space for pre-departure briefings and other work ready and reintegration training for workers. The training space can accommodate up to 100 people.
The office is named by custodian landowners as ‘Naniu Compound’.
The declaration of this new name was done by the Prime Minister (PM), Bob Loughman, while the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Minister of Internal Affairs, Ishmael Kalsakau and Australian High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Sarah deZoeten, unveiled the plaque to mark yesterday’s opening.
Australian High Commissioner deZoeten said the project is critical to the success of the labour mobility programs thus, Australia is proud to support.
She said labour mobility is “a win-win” program for employers and workers-it helps address workforce shortages and develop skills and income.
The Australian Government has recently announced reforms to its two labour mobility programs following feedbacks from consultations, which has indicated a need to align programs to priorities of employers and workers, she said.
“Due to the current COVID-19 situation, employers in Australia now need workers more than ever. Over 5,000 Ni-Vanuatu workers have been sent to Australia for seasonal work since the resumption of the programs.
“Vanuatu remains the largest sending country in the Pacific region. There are a lot of challenges with labour mobility, however I want to assure that worker’s welfare is a top priority for the Australian and Vanuatu governments.”
DPM and the Minister responsible for labour, Kalsakau, commended the Australian Government for funding the new Labour Office.
He announced plan for the department to focus on other areas such as occupational health safety, industrial relations and inspections.
He said the staff must deliver services to the satisfaction of the people.
The project is a reflection of the long-standing relationship between the governments of Australia and Vanuatu, he added.
Construction works were done by Loli Enterprises and managed by the Public Works Department (PWD). Supporting and supervision works were conducted by Lumu Consultant.