Workers from Timor-Leste, which is around one hour’s flying time from Darwin, are experienced in fisheries, horticulture, hospitality and meat processing work.

Find out how to recruit workers

Where is Timor-Leste?

Timor-Leste is approximately 700 kilometres northwest of Darwin and has a population of around 1.2 million.

The official languages are Tetum and Portuguese, while English and Indonesian are working languages. The capital of Timor-Leste, Dili, is around one hour’s flying time from Darwin. 

Timor-Leste achieved formal independence on 20 May 2002, as a direct result of the August 1999 UN-sponsored referendum. Despite impressive progress since independence, the country’s economic challenges are considerable. 

With two-thirds of its population living on less than $3 a day, Timor-Leste remains one of the poorest countries in the region.

Most of Timor-Leste’s population live in rural areas and are heavily reliant on subsistence agriculture with little or no access to fresh food markets or shops.

Why recruit workers from Timor-Leste?

The Labour Sending Unit within the Secretariat of State for Vocational Training & Employment (SEFOPE) Overseas Employment Directorate (OED) coordinates the recruitment process in Timor-Leste. 

They are responsible for screening, shortlisting candidates in response to recruitment requests, organising interviews for employers, and preparing workers for departure.

Only workers who meet the Government of Timor-Leste eligibility requirements are placed in the work-ready pool and are eligible for recruitment.

Timorese workers:

  • are typically hard working and willing to learn
  • have passed a full medical and fitness test
  • have passed a police check
  • are motivated by a strong work ethic
  • are friendly, respectful, personable and polite.
Timorese worker at Kimberly Accommodation

Timor-Leste has a good track record of participation in labour mobility schemes in Australia, with workers placed in the fisheries, horticulture, hospitality and meat processing industries.

The advantages of recruiting Timorese workers in any sector are:

  • Timorese workers are typically happy workers that like to learn new skills. The lack of specific industries in the country does not diminish the will to work, learn and gain experience.
  • They are usually smaller in build but strong and nimble. They are often prepared for adverse situations and are not afraid to work hard.
  • They are typically quick learners and polite.

To recruit workers under the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) or the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS), an Australian employer must be registered as an approved employer, or they must recruit workers through a labour-hire firm that is an approved employer. 

To find out more about becoming an approved employer, visit the SWP employer information page on the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business website or the PLS employer information page.

Once approved, employers can recruit workers through (a) open recruitment organised by the Secretariat of State for Vocational Training & Employment, (b) nominations by employer and (c) targeted recruitment.

For more information contact Timor-Leste Overseas Employment Directorate via (email): pls.lsu.tl@gmail.com or swp.lsu.tl@gmail.com.

The Australian Government has two visa schemes available for Timor-Leste nationals to work in Australia.

The Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) provides access to unskilled work opportunities for up to 9 months in the Australian agricultural and accommodation sectors (in selected locations). 

The Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) enables citizens of Timor-Leste to take up low-skilled and semi-skilled work in rural and regional Australia for one to3 years.

For information about the SWP, please contact (swp.lsu.tl@gmail.com). For PLS enquiries please contact (pls.lsu.tl@gmail.com).

Otherwise, you can visit the Government of Timor-Leste SEFOPE-Direccao Nacional Emprego Exterior website or the SEFOPE-Direccao Nacional Emprego Exterior Facebook page for more information.

To join the Seasonal Worker Programme, an applicant must: 

  • be 21 or older
  • hold a valid passport for the duration of the contract
  • be physically fit and healthy for the work specified (some employers require workers to pass a fitness test)
  • have no police criminal record
  • be of good character, with no drinking or behavioural concerns
  • demonstrate a positive attitude to work and a willingness to learn
  • demonstrate a basic understanding of English to understand instructions.

To join the Pacific Labour Scheme, an applicant must:

  • be between 21-45 years old
  • hold a valid passport for the duration of the contract
  • be physically fit and healthy for the work specified
  • have a written record for their last 10 years of employment
  • have no police criminal record (workers who have lived in a foreign country for 12 months or more after the age of 16, or worked on a foreign ship for 12 months or more, require a police check from that country)
  • be of good character, with no drinking or behavioural concerns
  • have qualifications and/or work experience required by employers
  • have a reasonable standard of English unless Australian licensing mandates a higher standard
  • demonstrate a positive attitude to work and a willingness to learn and commit to the employer’s values.

It is free to join the Seasonal Worker Programme and the Pacific Labour Scheme. 

You can apply to the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) through municipal open recruitments offered by the Secretariat of State for Vocational Training & Employment (SEFOPE).

Unless you have already applied in 20182019 no further opportunities will be available to join the program until the next recruitment for the SWP in 2022. This is due to the large volume of successful candidates already available in the system.

For the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS), specific industry vacancy announcements will be made available to potential candidates through one of three recruitment processes:

  1. Open announcement on the SEFOPE website or Facebook account
  2. Nominations of identified workers by an employer, or
  3. Targeted recruitment for specialised positions.

Any enquiries about the process should be directed to any of the above emails.

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