Mapping remittances and development: A study of the Australian Seasonal Workers Programme through East Timorese workers

Authors: Annie Wu*,
Topics: Australia and New Zealand, Asia, Migration
Keywords: Australia, Timor-Leste, Labour migration, Seasonal workers, Remittances
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Estherwood, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The aim of the proposed paper is to explore temporary labour migration from Timor-Leste to Australia with a focus on remittances in relation to development. Guest-workers’ schemes with a similar model is operated in New Zealand as Recognised Seasonal Employers scheme and in Canada as Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program before the commencement of Australia Seasonal Workers Programme in 2008. The Australian Seasonal Worker Programme, which is designed as part of the Australian Aid programme and offers to workers from Pacific Islands and Timor-Leste, has nearly half of returnees keep working for approved employers. Workers are eligible for the seven months working visa. Despite of the scant number of workers from East Timor (less than 500 by the end of October 2017), the number of Timorese workers has increased, as have overseas remittances. This paper examines the effects of remittances in Timor-Leste from this labour migration. It explores the uses of remittances and the opportunity costs of remittances. During the absence of migrants from the communities, some social costs exist for the ‘left-behind’ households in sending villages. This paper scrutinises whether the remittances can balance out of the social costs or not, and how communities account for and manage migrants’ absence. For seasonal workers, the experiences they have in Australia affect their future return and how they adjust to the social environment of Australia.

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