Millions of dollars are remitted each year to Pacific island states via seasonal workers participating in Australia's Seasonal Worker Program (SWP) and New Zealand's Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. Research in labour mobility primarily focuses on monetary remittances taken home to evaluate potential economic development outcomes, which are key objectives for the Australian and New Zealand governments and their bilateral partners in the Pacific.
Defining what remittances are is often unclear. Are they money sent through official remittance providers, money sent home informally, or both? Migrants also remit material goods, and there are also social remittances, defined by Peggy Levitt as 'the ideas, behaviours, and social capital that flow from receiving to sending communities' (2001:11). These are not necessarily documented or considered by governments or academics due to difficulties in tracing material goods and lack of reporting them. Nonetheless, there are opportunities to acquire knowledge in these areas through impact evaluation studies. This In Brief highlights how material remittances contribute to social and economic development in the region, reflecting on observations with ni-Vanuatu RSE workers and their material remittance practices between 2007 and 2014. It does not seek to define remittances, or to identify when income from labour mobility stops being considered a remittance, only that these dynamics need further consideration when researching outcomes of migration in the context of development.