“They’ve become like family to me” - Heartfelt Reunion in the Solomon Islands

20 February 2024

Rebecca Fataga   Feb

"It's moments like meeting Pattson in his home country and seeing the impact of his achievements that makes us site managers want to work and do more and more.”

Pattson Tutu worked for FIP Group at Ararat Meat Exports in Victoriaas part of the PALM Scheme for three years before returning home to the Solomon Islands in 2023. During this time Pattson worked on the production line as a labourer and was actively engaged with the community. “Pattson was a dedicated and focused worker at Ararat Meat Exports, he was also involved with the local community and attended church weekly,” said Rebecca.

Reconnecting in their home country

One year later, Site Manager, Rebecca Fatagatravelled to Savo Island, a small village in the Solomon Islands to meet Pattson, which was a heartwarming and eye-opening trip for her. "It was really emotional being able to see Pattson again. I spent a lot of time with him and other Solomon Island workers during their time here in Australia, celebrating the good and bad. They'vebecome like family to me," said Rebecca.

Witnessing Pattson's journey from arriving to Australia in 2019, to achieving many milestones and goals moved Rebecca. "His goals were to support his family financially and improve their standard of living while he worked in Australia. He's so humble about what he has achieved," she added, highlighting Pattson's admirable humility amongst his grand achievements.

Impact and success beyond borders

During her trip, Rebecca witnessed the impact of Pattson's accomplishments for his family and wider community."With money saved working in Australia, he's built three houses, for himself and his siblings, one of which they call the 'canteen' which sells groceries and essentials to village locals," Rebecca shared. “Now that Pattson and his wife are expecting their first child, the properties he has built has taken away a lot of stress for this family and has laid solid financial foundations," said Rebecca.

Since returning to his village, Pattson was appointed as a youth coordinator at his church and has also invested in boats for transportation, enhancing accessibility between islands and contributing to the economic growth of his community. "His whole island has benefited with better access to groceries and transport, while he is inspiring and educating the next generation in his village," she said, highlighting the broader impact of opportunities through the PALM Scheme.

Creating a lasting impact

Drawing from Pattson's achievements, Rebecca shared valuable insight for those looking at joining the PALM Scheme,“Take as many opportunities as you can within your workplace and develop those skills to take home with you...whether it's skills to help run a business or other skills to support yourself once you return home,” said Rebecca. 

"Pattson set a great example of what a PALM worker can achieve. Not only was he a dedicated worker, but he also represented his country to create opportunities for othe Solomon Islanders,” said Rebecca. "The site Pattson and other Solomon Islanders worked at continue to ask for workers from their country."

Rebecca's trip to the Solomon Islands highlights the impact the PALM Scheme has on individuals and communities alike, and the support FIP Group's Site Managers provide from the moment workers arrive in country, to when they depart,and in some cases the moment they reunite. "It's moments like meeting Pattson in his home country and seeing the impact of his achievements that makes us Site Managers want to work and do more and more,” said Rebecca.