Memorandum of Understanding

MoU PLS: Migrant labour by no means cut and dried

Episode Notes

Foreign aid has traditionally occurred “over there”, so what happens when international development is delivered within our borders? 

This episode we take to the road and head to Warrnambool, a large country town in Victoria’s West, and the site of one of Australia’s more unusual and noteworthy aid projects: the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS). In a bid to understand the work and life conditions of the East Timorese and Pacific Islanders brought to Australia under the PLS, we turn to Warrnambool’s meat processing facility, Midfield Meats. Following a safety briefing and a head-to-toe kit of personal protective equipment, we venture inside the abattoir to get the full story. We speak with a number of East Timorese PLS workers, including Pedro Lay, Vicente Pinto, and Teresinha Klau, as well as Midfield General Manager Dean McKenna, Plant Manager Alistair Sharp, and Training Manager Mick Williams, dissecting what the job entails for both employee and employer.

Post-production fact check: We made two errors in the podcast and we'd like to correct the record.

  1. The Pacific Labour Scheme is a temporary migration program, not an aid-for-migration program.
  2. The ANU Development Policy Centre has been researching Pacific labour mobility since 2010 not 2015.

Recommended reading: Feast your eyes on more meaty PLS content at DevPolicy, and read up on the Timorese experience in Warrnambool with a blog piece by Dr Michael Rose and another by East Timorese PLS worker Cornelio Dos Santos.

Behind the curtain: We are on air thanks to the ANU’s Development Policy Centre.

Visual credits: The flags of Timor Leste, China, Vietnam, and Australia  fly out the front of Midfield Meats. Photo courtesy of MOU.