Dwinelle (Nae) Luani and his wife Amanda are committed to making the Seasonal Worker Programme a success and have an important role helping seasonal workers settle in to work and life in rural Queensland.

Born in Tonga, Nae struggled to find work at home. In 2008, he was on board the Princess Ashika Ferry when it sank in Tonga killing over 90 women and children. Nae was one of the few survivors. This life-changing event triggered Nae to become a voluntary caretaker at the local church. He was then selected to be part of the first Seasonal Worker Programme pilot in 2010 where he found work in Mundubbera.

While in Australia, Nae met Amanda, originally from Merryburra, who was working in Mundubbera as a youth worker at the time. They were married in Tonga in 2011.

Nae and Amanda now live in Mundubbera with their two children, Bessie and Lattrell. Amanda works for a local transport company as an admin supervisor and Nae is permanently employed as a supervisor on a local citrus farm.

Together they play a significant role assisting seasonal workers settle into Mundubbera. With an open home policy, they are able to provide assistance to the Tongan workers outside of work hours, help them to understand the social norms in Australia, budgeting, nutrition, and assisting them to integrate with the local community. The Tongan workers dance at local events, cook and serve at the local soup kitchen, pack donations to send back to Tonga and cooked for a local Cyclone Gita fundraiser.

Nae and Amanda help with bridging the culture gap between the Australian community, the employer, and the Tongan workers, ensuring clear communication channels and easing some of the pastoral care burden that is generally borne by employers under the Seasonal Worker Programme. Other farms have expressed an interest in the work that they are doing.

Building a strong community for the Tongan workers is important to Nae and Amanda. Last year everyone chipped in to help one of the workers return home for a short period of time when his wife passed away.

They help out with pick-up and drop-offs from the airport and navigating the check in process. Sometimes this involves checking in power tools and other equipment that the workers have purchased with their earnings and are taking back to Tonga.

In addition to helping out the workers here in Australia, Nae and Amanda have started a charity delivering school supplies in Tonga, taking school supplies with them when they return to visit Nae’s family.

This case study was produced by the National Farmers’ Federation in collaboration with Growcom.