65 out of the 4351 people on the PALM Scheme have been involved in extra-marital affairs - Singh

65 out of the 4351 people on the PALM Scheme have been involved in extra-marital affairs - Singh

By Mosese Raqio
Thursday 14/09/2023

Research shows that marriage breakdowns or extra-marital affairs are from poor communication, lack of intimacy, money issues and growing apart as life takes different twists and turns.

This was highlighted by the Minister for Employment Agni Deo Singh while responding to FijiFirst MP Alipate Tuicolo’s question about the extra-marital affairs and marriage/family breakdown issues affecting the Fijians contracted under the Pacific Australian Mobility (PALM) and Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Schemes.

Singh says extra-marital affairs and marriage breakdowns can happen where the employee is working abroad or with the spouse of the employee back in Fiji, but the information the Ministry has received, most of these incidents had happened abroad where the workers are based.

He says issues such as this that deals with human values and behaviour are beyond our control, however, the issues raised requires an understanding of such human behaviour.

He adds addressing this issue also requires multi-disciplinary approaches and multi-stakeholder collaboration as no government can resolve this issue because together we can take preventative measures to improve and minimise such painful incidents.

The Minister says the Ministry of Employment has taken some preventative measures since the inception of the PALM Scheme as 65 out of the 4351 people have been involved in extra-marital affairs.

He says while the percentage is insignificant, even one family that has been abandoned by the breadwinner or the head of the family should be a matter of deep concern to all of us.

Singh says the number of reported cases received on welfare issues around this is a major social impact faced by the workers’ families here in Fiji including related issues such as non-communication and no remittance.

He says this leads to a vast majority of these workers who are involved in this issue absconding and the Ministry lose contact with them and it's difficult to be located by the relevant agencies overseas. Singh further says so far, through interventions by employers and diasporas overseas, they have been able to resolve three cases.

He says since the coalition government came into power, they have achieved a lot and one of them is ensuring the well-being and welfare of the workers under the scheme first.

He adds the Ministry had visited the Fijian workers in Australia and New Zealand within 3 months of leadership and this is to ensure the workers of the government’s commitments, hear the workers’ concerns and make them feel that they are important and cared for.

Singh says they are now strengthening their collaborative efforts and established senior work groups between the Fiji government and the Australian government as they continuously discuss and explore solutions.

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