Strengthening connections between Australia and Vanuatu

Improving people-to-people connections, networking and inspiring change are the key ingredients behind the Pacific Connect program, which will return to Vanuatu for a two-day Dialogue, this time on digital marketplaces and online services.

Part of the Australian Government’s step-up of Pacific engagement, which was launched in 2017, the initiative builds stronger long-term relationships between Australians and Pacific Islanders.

Implemented by the International Centre for Democratic Partnerships, the pilot program is currently in its second year and is active in six Pacific nations: Papua New, Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

Through attendance at the Dialogue, participants will become members of a network called the ‘Pacific Connect Community’, which provides a valuable platform to continue collaboration and generate projects and activities to enhance and increase the network, learn from each other and potentially create new business opportunities.

The Vanuatu Dialogue, held in Port Vila from 15-16 July, will bring together current and emerging leaders from Vanuatu, the Pacific and Australia to discuss how digital connectivity and emerging technologies can foster business opportunities and empower Ni-Vanuatu and Pasifika women.

It will be facilitated by Mr Francis Herman OAM, CEO of Vanuatu Broadcasting & Television Corporation, and Prof Ian Young AO, Director of ICDP and Kernot Professor of Engineering at the University of Melbourne.

One of the highlights of the Pacific Connect Dialogue is the Welcome Dinner, where new Pacific Connect Community members from Vanuatu, the broader Pacific and Australia make connections with existing alumni and Ni-Vanuatu leaders. The Welcome Dinner usually features a keynote speech from a hosting Pacific Island country’s government minister and an address by the Australian High Commissioner.

The second day of the Dialogue will see around 20 current and emerging leaders from across the region engage in a series of brainstorming, group work and project pitching sessions.

This will culminate in groups identifying a few practical projects to take forward in the long term, which may benefit from ICDP’s international alumni of potential investors, esteemed business leaders, government officials and entrepreneurs from a wide range of industries.

One of the earlier projects that emerged from a Pacific Connect Dialogue in the Solomon Islands last year won the Australian Government’s Technology for Development Challenge award, organised by the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trades’ innovationXchange.

The project team behind ‘Every building is a Classroom’ is working on a platform that maps underutilised facilities suitable for use as classrooms, enabling delivery of education in those spaces.

You can find out more by going to ICDP’s website and following them on their social media channels.

Applications to attend the dialogue have now closed, however, there will be future opportunities to participate in Pacific Connect activities as they roll out across the Pacific.

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