Apolosi Buekilagi, a 32-year-old meat worker from Nadavacia, Rakiraki, has transformed the lives of his family and community through determination and hard work under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) Scheme.
Buekilagi, who was mobilized as a meat worker under the PALM scheme in 2019, has shown that a secondary school education is not a barrier to achieving significant success.
Starting with a pay rate of $19.00 AUD an hour, Buekilagi’s hard work and willingness to go above and beyond resulted in multiple pay raises, ultimately reaching $32.00 AUD an hour by the time he returned to Fiji.
“During my 3-year deployment, my needs are met, and I am grateful for achieving the goals and plans that were set,” said Buekilagi.
With the wages received, Buekilagi was able to make substantial investments back home, including sourcing $27,000 FJD for house construction, $4,600 for the purchase of 4 chainsaws, $13,200 for shipment of household items to Fiji, $15,000 for the purchase of 20 cattle, $4,700 for cattle farm fencing, $4,000 for yaqona farming, and $30,000 for the purchase of a 4-wheel vehicle.
Buekilagi’s success extended beyond his work as a meat worker. While in Australia, he ventured into an informal kava business and also bought two cars.
He was able to save and bring back $30,000 FJD.
“I wish to express my sincere appreciation to my employer, for recognizing my efforts and for considering me for the pay increases. I am grateful that I was able to save more than expected in comparison to earnings in Fiji,” said Buekilagi.
“Regular contact back home with my parents gave me a sense of relief and motivated me to continue to do my best and achieve my goals.”
Buekilagi commended the NEC medical and fitness assessment provided under the PALM scheme, which improved his physical readiness and enhanced his work performance and overall well-being. He also highlighted the significance of the pre-departure briefing, which prepared him for work and life in Australia.
The Permanent Secretary for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Maritino Nemani, emphasized that the PALM scheme aims to uplift the standards of living for workers and their families while providing assistance towards community development.
Buekilagi’s success story serves as a testament to the positive outcomes that can be achieved through participation in the PALM scheme and the transformative impact of hard work and determination.