Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

Tongan Workers the Priority; Pacific Inclusion Focuses on Seasonal Program Safety

Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

Tongan Workers the Priority; Pacific Inclusion Focuses on Seasonal Program Safety

Article excerpt

DETAILS

When: Saturday,

February 17

Time: From 5pm

What: Cultural performances, food, kids' entertainment, stalls and more.

SHLEY CLARK

JOURNALIST

ashley.clark@news-mail.com.au

ISLANDER dancing, singing, food and more will be the theme of the night when The Lighthouse Hotel transforms into a cultural hub for Pacific Inclusion.

And while the annual fundraiser event will be a festive and merry occasion highlighting islander life, the reason behind the cause is much more serious.

This year, Pacific Inclusion will focus on raising funds to help the Tongan community and its seasonal workers -- which, according to chief event planner Moe Turaga, comes at a crucial time.

He said two Tongan workers had died in the region in the last 12 months and more needed to be done before another tragedy happened.

"We have already had two deaths of Tongan workers so we just want to make sure that there is a system in place for these workers, that there is somebody that is Australian that can assist before that ever happens again," he said.

"We want to keep the whole system honest and also let the farmers know that... these are human beings..."

On January 4, a 35-year-old Tongan man, who had been working on a farm in Bundaberg, was discovered dead in his accommodation.

It was the second death of a Pacific Islander on the Seasonal Worker Program in the region.

In May, 22-year-old Sione Vakameilalo Fifita, known as Vaka, was working for a contractor at Childers when he became unwell and later died.

His family claims he was sick for about two weeks before his death, and his workmates reported he was vomiting blood but received no medical assistance until it was too late.

Mr Turaga said the deaths had affected the islander community. …

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