10 Jan 2024

Pacific news in brief for January 10

5:38 pm on 10 January 2024
Migrant workers generic

Photo: 123RF

Samoa - mistreatment

The Samoa government is looking into allegations of mistreatment of Samoan seasonal workers.

The Samoa Observer reports workers at one location were complaining of being treated "like pigs" by their supervisor.

Assistant chief executive officer for Samoa's Ministry of Finance, Tofilau Luamanuvae Siliva, said via email on Monday they were currently reviewing the complaints and are liaising with the Australian employers and authorities on the matter.

He said the government assures that the welfare of their workers remains a priority.

Meanwhile, the ongoing concern has prompted an Australian citizen to reach out to the Samoa Observer regarding Samoans and other Pacific Island seasonal workers who were bullied in their workplaces in Australia.

Solomon Islands/Vanuatu - nurses

The first new recruits of nurses from Solomon Islands have arrived in Vanuatu to help fill gaps in the health sector.

The group of 12 will be based at Vila Central Hospital.

The Vanuatu Daily Post reports the Ministry of Health has confirmed a shortage of medical staff in hospitals and health centres in the Provinces.

It said the shortage includes doctors, midwives, and other healthcare workers, not just nurses.

The Health Ministry plans to recruit nearly 100 qualified nurses from the Solomon Islands this year.

Tonga - airline

Investigations into an airplane crash that occurred at Tonga's main domestic airport early last month are ongoing.

The accident occurred when a 35-seater domestic aircraft slid off a runway and into a cement wall.

There were no casualties, but in compliance with international standards, Tonga's Aviation body is required to submit an accident report to the International Civil Aviation organisation.

Tonga's Prime Minister Hu'akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni said Australia was involved with the investigation.

"So once the investigation is done they will generate the report, they will put it out., first with the Civil Aviation Division and then shared with us....because now the investigation is going on with Australia, who is currently working with them to finalize the report."

The aircraft belonged to Tonga's State Owned Lulutai Airlines.

Samoa - suspended

Four police constables in Samoa have been suspended from the Criminal Investigation Unit pending investigation into their alleged use of illegal drugs.

Deputy police commissioner, Papālii Monalisa Tia'i-Keti said the investigation was prompted by one of the officers stepping forward and revealed the alleged involvement of the four constables in using drugs.

She said investigations by the Professional Standards Unit are continuing so she could not comment further until their report is done.

Papali'i said said it is normal practice that criminal charges may follow depending on the investigation and its report.

Fiji - students

Fiji's Ministry of Finance says it will pay out over F$40.2 million (US$17m) to 200,760 students as part of its $200 dollar Back-to-School Support initiative.

This first round of payment is to be made to all eligible students enrolled from early childhood education to Year-12.

The second round of payments are on hold for students yet to be enrolled in Year-13 as they await their Year-12 exam results.

The $200 dollar Back-to-School Support is an initiative of the coalition government which aims to assist parents and guardians in purchasing school uniforms, bags, shoes, stationery and other necessities before the 2024 school year starts.

New Caledonia - snake

An Australian woman has garnered media attention after she posted a photo of herself holding and cuddling an extremely lethal Sea Krait snake during a visit to New Caledonia.

Sydney Nurse Suzanne Parrish told Yahoo News that she mistook the snake for being harmless and non-venomous when she saw it on a beach.

The neurotoxic Sea Krait snake can produce enough venom to kill 10 adults with a single bite.

Parish said she thought the snake was cute until she later learned about how deadly it was when she visited a local museum.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs