Research helping labour migrants in Timor-Leste

New research will investigate the impact of temporary labour work on migrant workers and their families in Timor-Leste to help inform government policies which improve migration schemes and development priorities.

The nationwide study will compare the impact of two different migration systems, the Australian Seasonal Workers Programme, and the South Korean Employment Permit System, to recommend improvements as high rates of unemployment and low household incomes continue to challenge the Southeast Asian nation.

Flinders University Associate Professor Udoy Saikia, Professor Susanne Schech, from the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and ANU researcher Professor Andrew McWilliam have received $212,000 Linkage Project (LP200100149) to study the impact of the Australian Seasonal Workers Programme and subsequent well-being of migrant workers and their families.

Associate Professor Udoy Saikia in the College of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences.

Two additional Flinders University researchers, Associate Professor Gour Dasvarma and Associate Professor James Chalmers, will be assisting the project as technical experts.

This project will be carried out in collaboration with Government of Timor-Leste, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in Australia, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

Associate Professor Udoy Saikia says measuring the impact of temporary labour migration on various aspects of life will prove especially useful when it comes to evaluate the development impact of other Australian aid funded labour migration schemes.

“The proposed project is the first to analyse the impacts of the SWP and EPS programs on migrants and their households and to evaluate the contribution of temporary migration schemes to well-being and to Timor-Leste’s sustainable development future.”

“It offers important insights into the perspectives and coping strategies of migrant households at a historical turning point in the migration pattern. This will allow us to compare and establish how two different migration systems, the Australian Seasonal Workers Programme and the South Korean Employment Permit System, differently impact outcomes on both individuals and households.”

“This process is important to identify and recommend ways to improve the sustainability of labour migration schemes and their development benefits.”

The project also reinforces Australia’s close relationship with and commitment to its nearest neighbour, Timor-Leste, by developing research-based evidence can help the Australian government enhance its temporary migration programs to reduce poverty and improve social development.

“New information about the well-being of Timorese labour migrants in Australia and their reintegration in Timor- Leste will enable the Australian government and Australian employers to improve the quality equity and management of temporary migrant employment for mutual social and economic benefits,” says Professor Saikia.

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