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Since 2011 Papua New Guinea (PNG) has struggled to increase its participation in Australia’s Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme. In response, the PNG Government established an independent Labour Mobility Unit (LMU) in 2019 to boost its participation and send over 8,000 workers by 2025. The LMU partners with Provincial Governments and District Administrations to achieve that goal through a decentralised Regional Recruitment model. Under this model, there have been a few early wins with around 48 workers mobilised since late 2019 and another 184 workers that were due for mobilisation in March this year but were unable to travel due to COVID-19. This paper highlights some of PNG’s adaptations in its new recruitment model and focuses on: current recruitment pathways, rural community participation, funding support to reduce mobilisation costs, trusted intermediaries, and the need for a national labour mobility policy.
PhD Scholar, Department of Pacific Affairs, ANU