Following close consultation and collaboration with the Australian Government through DFAT, the Ministry of Health, Fiji Airways, the Fiji Police Force together with other stakeholders, a total of 177 Fijian Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) workers departed for Australia yesterday under COVID-19 protocols.
The PLS was established under the Vuvale Partnership Agreement between the Fijian Government and the Australian Government as one of two labour mobility programs accessed by Fijian citizens to work in Australia, the other being the Seasonal Work Program (SWP). 
As part of the preparations, approval was first granted by the Australian Federal Government and the relevant Australian State Government (NSW) together with their respective Chief Health Officer (CHO) for cohorts to enter and quarantine.  This also includes booking and managing the quarantine hotels. 
Consultation was also held with Ministry of Health officials and the Fiji Police Force on managing and escorting these workers to Nadi International Airport early yesterday morning under very strict COVID-19 protocols.
Our selected Fijian workers under the PLS will be on three-year employment contracts working across industries including agriculture, horticulture and meat-works.
The 177 workers consisted of 45 females and 132 males. This brings the total number of Fijian PLS workers that had departed since November 2020 to 627. 
The cost of quarantine is borne by the employer and the Australian Government.
Considering the effects of the current pandemic on our local employment market, these Fijian PLS workers will be able to support their families and also contribute to our economic recovery through remittances.