Medical examinations easier in Vanuatu thanks to Fund
23 August 2017
Medical examinations easier in Vanuatu thanks to the Kiwifruit Industry Community Support Fund Inc
• Kiwifruit Industry Community Support
Fund Inc donates digital radiology equipment to the Vanuatu
Ministry of Health
• Up to 2,000 RSE workers can use a new radiology service in Santo
3,500 people from Vanuatu come to New Zealand every year under the Recognized Seasonal Employer programme (RSE) to work in the horticulture industry during peak times when there are insufficient workers available in New Zealand.
As part of their visa application, RSE workers must undergo an Immigration Medical Examination in Port Vila to be able to come to New Zealand. This can provide a tricky situation for these potential employees who must often travel from outlying islands. The requirement to travel to Port Vila increases workers time away from community and family and involves costs while in the city.
Following a pilot assessment in 2016, it was found that Immigration Medical Examinations could be conducted at the hospital on the outlying island of Santo. This would be made possible with the help of a digitizer that enables x-rays to be available in an electronic format that can be submitted to Immigration New Zealand.
To make this dream a reality, the Kiwifruit Industry Community Support Fund Inc raised over $50,000 to purchase a digitiser and arranged for the x-ray machine and digitiser to be made available in Santo. The Fruitgrowers Charitable Trust provided a substantial donation to the Fund which recognises the importance of Vanuatu RSE workers to the wider fruit industry in New Zealand.
Kiwifruit Industry Community Support Fund Inc Chair Neil Trebilco says; “We are delighted to have been able to raise enough money to provide easier medical examinations. Employees from Vanuatu make an important contribution to our kiwifruit industry and the New Zealand economy as a whole, and we are pleased to be able to give them something in return”.
The Kiwifruit Industry Community Support Fund is a charitable incorporated society with the objective to support causes associated with the kiwifruit industry. It works in areas such as poverty and disaster relief as well as the advancement of education.
In July this year, the Pacific Seasonal Workers scheme reached 10 years of providing labour to New Zealand, including kiwifruit growers. RSE employees make up a small but crucial proportion of New Zealand’s horticulture workforce which fills the gap that New Zealanders can’t. Vanuatu provides approximately 3,500 of the 10,500 RSE scheme workers that come to New Zealand each year.
Although New Zealanders are the kiwifruit industry’s first priority when it comes to picking and packing kiwifruit, the low unemployment rate makes it difficult to fill all the available positions. Other sources of seasonal labour include backpackers and students but there are shortages at critical times, particularly around weekend and nightshifts.
The kiwifruit industry is expanding and will be increasing its already significant contribution to regional and the national economy. NZKGI considers that RSE workers are critical to maximising the growth potential of the industry.