South Pacific islanders bolster Bupa workforce

The 12 Tuvaluan workers have been recruited through the PALM scheme.

Aged care workers from Tuvalu have joined the team at a Bupa residential facility on the north coast of New South Wales.

Based at Bupa Pottsville Beach, the 12 workers were recruited through the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme, which seeks to address the sector’s staffing shortfall.

Bupa’s Pottsville Beach site has struggled to recruit local workers, a common problem experienced by regional aged care providers, said Bupa chief operating officer Philip Mackney.

Philip Mackney

“We have room for an additional 30 residents but that would require an additional 35 team members to ensure the standards of care can be met for residents.”

The Tuvaluan staff members are currently completing their Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing) through the government’s Aged Care Expansion program.

The program was developed to help providers secure qualified, long-term staff from the Pacific and Timor-Leste by supporting PALM workers to complete standard Australian qualifications.

“Having the 12 members join us through the ACE program goes a long way as we are the only aged care home in a 10km radius and service such a large part of the community,” said Mr Mackney.


Pesiki took up the opportunity to work in Australia to support her daughter, who also lives here. “I have two daughters living abroad, the youngest is now in Australia studying at university, so by having this opportunity I can give her the support she needs.”

Tuvalu’s strong tradition of respect for seniors means its care workers are a good fit for Australia’s aged care sector.

“Back home, we don’t just look after our direct relatives, but we also help other elderly members in the community with their daily needs,” Pesiki said.


Also from Tuvalu – an independent South Pacific island nation within the British Commonwealth of Nations – is Tapania. She wants to use her experience to help establish early training opportunities for Tuvaluan workers so that they can stand out as exceptional candidates for aged care recruiters.

“I want to help introduce new concepts and practices from the aged care sector in Australia so that our workers can be well prepared when they start their formal training,” Tapania said.

Other countries involved in the PALM scheme include:

The 2024 ACE program aims to support 500 qualified care workers to obtain their qualifications by December. PALM workers work with the same approved employer for up to four years.

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Tags: ACE program, bupa, overseas-workers, PALM, workforce,

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