Australia greatly values its close historical, political, economic, development and people-to-people links with the island countries and territories of the Pacific. Australia works closely with Pacific island countries to support economic growth, stability, and sustainable development. Australia’s defence cooperation with many of the Pacific island countries contributes to protecting their vast maritime resources and enhances regional security.
Australia is a founding member and active participant in the key political and technical organisations in the Pacific which have emerged in recent decades to deal with issues specific to the region. These organisations are outlined below.
- The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) is the region’s principal political grouping. Established in 1971, its membership comprises Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and, since September 2016, French Polynesia and New Caledonia. Tokelau is an associate member. The Forum’s annual Leaders’ Summit is the peak regional political meeting for political discussions on deeper regional cooperation and integration. The grouping is serviced by a Secretariat headed by a Secretary General, currently Dame Meg Taylor, DBE.
- The Pacific Community (known by the acronym SPC) delivers technical assistance, policy advice, training and research services for the region. The SPC membership comprises American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, France, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, United States of America, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna. Its programs span a number of sectors addressing sustainable economic development, natural resource and environmental management, and human and social development.
- The Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) is an advisory body that assists members to maximise benefits from the conservation and sustainable use of their fisheries resources, in particular tuna.
- The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) promotes the protection and sustainable development of the Pacific region's environment.
Cooperation and collaboration between Pacific regional organisations is promoted through the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP). Established in 1988 by Forum Leaders, CROP comprises the four organisations listed above, as well as the following five organisations:
- The University of the South Pacific (USP), a premier provider of tertiary education in the Pacific region and an international centre of excellence for teaching, research and consulting on all aspects of Pacific life;
- The Pacific Islands Development Program (PIDP), housed in the East-West Center in Hawaii, assists Pacific Islands Leaders to advance their collective efforts to achieve and sustain equitable social and economic development consistent with the goals of the Pacific islands region’s people;
- The South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), which is the mandated inter-governmental body for the tourism sector in the region, with the mission to market and develop tourism in the South Pacific;
- The Pacific Power Association (PPA), which promotes the direct cooperation of Pacific island power utilities in technical training, exchange of information, sharing of senior management and engineering expertise and other activities of benefit to the members; and
- The Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO) which oversees aviation safety and security in the Pacific Islands using guidelines provided by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
Australian support for Pacific Islands regional organisations
Australia is a leading donor to the major regional organisations in the Pacific.
Australian support comprises both core funding and assessed member contributions as well as additional funding for specific programs delivered by the organisations. In 2015, Australia contributed approximately 37% of the budget for the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and 28% of the budget for the Pacific Community (SPC).
Australia has signed Partnership Agreements with the key regional bodies, which set out our shared visions for cooperation and integration.
Further information on Australia’s development assistance in the Pacific