Supporting Pacific families in Australia

  • Joint media release with:
  • The Hon Pat Conroy MP, Minister for International Development and the Pacific

The Australian Parliament has passed legislation to provide additional support and benefits to eligible Pacific Engagement Visa (PEV) holders and Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme families.

The supports include access to tertiary student loans while studying, family tax benefits and the Child Care Subsidy. They will also have access to Medicare.

These supports will help visa holders and their families to make a valuable contribution in Australia, including strengthening people-to-people, cultural and business ties and helping to fill workforce shortages, including in rural and regional areas.

The Albanese Labor Government is listening to the Pacific family, and delivering on our commitment to improve mobility and migration opportunities, and building a more peaceful, stable and prosperous region.

The PEV will enable up to 3,000 Pacific and Timor-Leste nationals to migrate to Australia as permanent residents each year, deepening connections between Australia and the region.

The Government has also committed to allowing long-term PALM scheme workers to bring their families to Australia, commencing with a pilot of 200 families in 2024.

It is disappointing that after supporting this legislation in the House, the Liberals and Nationals tried to block it in the Senate – showing they still haven't learned how to deliver for Australia in the Pacific.

The Government thanks parliamentarians from the cross-bench who have engaged in this discussion constructively and thoughtfully.

The PEV program and the PALM scheme family accompaniment pilot will commence in 2024. For further information visit Pacific Engagement Visa program and PALM scheme.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Penny Wong:

"The Australian Government is delivering on its commitment to deepen our connections with the Pacific and Timor-Leste, and playing our part in a shared Pacific that is peaceful, stable and prosperous.

"Despite everything we have seen in the Pacific, Mr Dutton continues to put negative political attacks ahead of the national interest. He proved this again by supporting this legislation in the House and trying to block it in the Senate."

Quotes attributable to Minister for International Development and the Pacific, the Hon Pat Conroy MP:

"This legislation is a demonstration of the value Australia places on its relationship with the Pacific and Timor-Leste.

"The measures will not only benefit individuals, families and employers, but also the broader region by providing economic and skills dividends.

"The measures have transformative potential, making Australia's world class education and training system more accessible for new residents under the Pacific Engagement Visa.

"PALM scheme workers often leave their families and communities for extended periods. This legislation will ensure they have access to benefits that will support them to bring their families, recognising the important contribution they make to essential sectors and regional communities across Australia."

Media enquiries

  • Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555