Solomon Islands’ High Commissioner to Australia, Mr. Robert Sisilo, has told Solomon Island workers in Australia to get their COVID-19 jabs if they have not yet got their first and second vaccine doses.
This is despite the country hitting a key milestone as more than 80 percent of Australians aged 16 and over have now had at least one vaccine dose.
“It is important to get vaccinated to keep yourself, your family and your community safe. COVID-19 has resulted in the deaths of millions of people worldwide. When more people are vaccinated, outbreaks of the disease are less deadly. Being vaccinated helps save lives.” Mr. Sisilo, based in Canberra, said in a 3-minute COVID-19 vaccination video to address the disappointing rates of vaccinations among workers.
“In some cases, if you are not vaccinated you will be unable to work. For example, if you are required to travel between states that require a vaccine on entry (e.g. seasonal workers) or if you are in an industry where you are required to be fully vaccinated, such as aged care or meat processing.” Mr. Sisilo warned when encouraging workers to vaccinate on the Pacific Labour Facility social media platforms.
Solomon Islands plays a crucial role in addressing workforce shortages across a range of sectors in regional Australia. Since the restart of Australia’s Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) in September last year, 1,806 from the Solomon Islands have arrived at the end of September 2021. And another 160 (70 women, 90 men) have left early in the week and more to follow.
According to one research, countries that have increased their share in the restart period are Solomon Islands (from 3% to 13%), Samoa (from 7% to 13%) and Fiji (from 4% to 7%). Vanuatu’s share of both SWP and PLS workers has decreased from 43% in the immediate pre-COVID period to 39% since the restart. Tonga, also a major sending country, has seen its share fall from 26% pre-COVID to 23%.
Mr Sisilo reiterated, “To take advantage of this huge labour market, Solomon Islands will have to invest more on vocational and skills training in hospitality, tourism, aged care, housekeeping, welding, bricklaying, tiling, tinting, panel beating, vehicle mechanic, fitting, machining, plumbing, construction, fishing sectors etc. The demand for skills and semi-skilled jobs is growing and will continue to grow.” Mr. Sisilo has put labour mobility with Australia as his number one priority.