Pacific Connect’s First Anniversary

| October 4, 2018

(On the photo – the ICDP team at the inaugural Pacific Connect Forum at NSW Parliament House, 6 September 2018. From left to right: Simone Pensko, Chief Executive Officer; Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu, Special Advisor; Tina Briggs, Program Manager; and Kenneth Katafono, Pacific Partnerships Manager)

 

On 8 September 2017, the Prime Minister announced the Pacific Connect program to forge stronger, strategic-level relationships between Pacific and Australian leaders across the public, private, academic and community sectors. The International Centre for Democratic Partnerships (ICDP) began implementing the Pacific Connect initiative on 1 October 2017.

Pacific Connect complements a suite of government digital/innovation, cyber engagement, leadership, women’s, and research initiatives that are operating in the Pacific. Under the theme of ‘Australia-Pacific Connections for the Digital Future’, Pacific Connect is helping to deliver the Australian Government’s agenda to step-up Australia’s pacific engagement by building stronger relationships between people in Australia and the Pacific. This involves facilitating activities that lead to genuine, long-lasting relationships between Australians and Pacific Islanders that try to go above and beyond an initial connection through a one-off event.

Since October 2017, ICDP Board and staff have undertaken trips to Fiji, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Samoa and Tonga as part of its strategic engagement in the Pacific. Through these engagements ICDP, through consultations with the Australian High Commissions in country, has convened 3 Pacific Connect dialogues (PNG, Fiji and Samoa), 2 workshops (Vanuatu and Samoa), participated in the Digital Pacific 2018 Regional Conference in Samoa, and has run a Pacific Connect Forum in Sydney. Over 40 Pacific Islanders from a range of sectors from PNG, Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia attended the Forum to discuss connectivity as an ‘enabler of opportunity’ in the Pacific and to expand their networks.

As a result of initial and ongoing connections, a number of projects are in the pipeline in PNG, Samoa, Fiji and New Caledonia encompassing topics such as Virtual Reality/Immersive Storytelling, Creative Industry Hub development, Innovative Ecosystem Development, Women in IT, and connecting Pacific and Australian University networks.

Over the first year these projects and activities have helped build a strong foundation to enable the further creation and expansion of networks between Australia and the Pacific and within the Pacific. The opportunity to maintain these networks is looking promising through the efforts of motivated and enthusiastic individuals and organisations who are willing to contribute their time to generate and progress exciting ideas and projects.

It is important to take stock and celebrate ICDP’s and Pacific Connect’s achievements over the past year with our diverse and impressive Pacific Connect Community, and we now look forward to working with and adding to our ‘family’ over the next year and beyond!

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Tina Briggs

Tina Briggs is the programme coordinator for the International Centre for Democratic Partnerships.  She has extensive experience in project management across government, private, and not for profit sectors and has worked in international development with the Kenyan and Botswanan Red Cross.