In 2015-16, our diplomatic missions in Apia, Honiara, Nauru, Noumea, Nuku'alofa, Pohnpei, Port Moresby, Port Vila, Suva, Tarawa, and Wellington provided $2.230 million for 143 projects in the Pacific region.
The Australian High Commission in Apia, Samoa, provided $220,000 for 11 projects. The Direct Aid Program (DAP) projects focused on education, women's empowerment and healthcare.
On Savaii Island, DAP funded the purchase of building materials for the reconstruction of steps in Satuitatua Village to allow easy access between its lower and upper levels. The old steps, built more than 20 years ago, had deteriorated so much over time that they were becoming a safety hazard.
To improve the livelihood of Vaiafai villagers, DAP funded the renovation and upgrade of their fresh water pool. The pool sourced from underground water is used by the Vaiafai community and its neighbouring villages for washing and bathing, while underground water from a small reservoir is for drinking and cooking.
The High Commission in Honiara, Solomon Islands, provided $300,000 for 18 small-scale projects in six of Solomon Islands' nine provinces. The projects, funded by the Direct Aid Program (DAP), focused on water, sanitation, income generating opportunities, energy and women's empowerment.
DAP funding provided the Honiara Council of Women with the equipment to run the inaugural Women's Innovation Expo, which created economic opportunities for women and girls. The Expo allows the unemployed to earn an income, contributing to Solomon Islands' economic growth.
To address water shortage issues at the local clinic and school, a DAP project purchased 22 water tanks for the more than 1000 community members of Mt Alasa'a. Access to fresh water is a constant challenge for many isolated rural communities in Solomon Islands.
The Australian High Commission in Nauru provided $15,000 for four small-scale projects in Nauru. The projects, funded by the Direct Aid Program (DAP), placed emphasis on promoting a healthy lifestyle and community cohesion, and providing seed funding for small business activities.
DAP funding provided an initial investment for the Community Night Market, now held every fortnight at different locations around Nauru. Under the project, which is aimed at promoting entrepreneurship among local women, young people and artisans, the necessary equipment was purchased, including lighting marquees, tables and chairs. The market brings together the Nauruans and refugees and supports micro-businesses.
DAP also provided financial support for the Bright Futures Play Centres to purchase woodworking equipment to run a toy-making workshop and train the unemployed youth under the guidance of qualified carpenters. The projects aimed to produce quality wooden toys for children up to four years old and help the unemployed youth develop trade skills.
The Australian Consulate-General in Noumea supported two projects on the small islands of Wallis and Futuna, which is an Overseas Territory of France, through the Direct Aid Program (DAP). The two projects received DAP funding totalling $29,000.
In Futuna, DAP funded the development of a water treatment system and the purchase of the required equipment for a tsunami shelter. The local community held fundraising events to cover the cost of building the shelter in Olu Village. The other DAP project helped develop a new sports discipline to fight obesity in Wallis and Futuna by providing badminton equipment to the Uvea Badminton Association.
The Australian High Commission in Nuku'alofa, Tonga, provided $120,000 for 19 projects. Direct Aid Program (DAP) projects promoted a healthy lifestyle, the empowerment of women and girls, skills development, agricultural innovation, education and the quality of life of people with disability.
Through a DAP project, the Bank of South Pacific (BSP)'s car park was converted into an after-hours netball court and a public space. BSP covered the cost of levelling and resurfacing the ground while DAP funds were used to mark the full-size court, install netball hoops and provide lighting.
To support agricultural innovation, DAP funded the installation of a weather station in Tupou Agriculture College, with the Tongan Meteorological Service providing training and maintenance. Its operation is aimed at addressing the impact of climate change on crop production.
The Australian Embassy in Pohnpei provided $186,000 for four projects in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). The project, which received funding from the Direct Aid Program (DAP), focused on women's empowerment, health and sanitation.
DAP funded a climate resilience project to install rainwater catchment and storage systems in 16 vulnerable communities in low-lying coral atolls in Chuuk State.
Another DAP project promoted the awareness of domestic violence and gender equality through sporting activities. It provided an outlet for girls and women to participate in sports for a healthy lifestyle. According to the 2000 Census, only 12 per cent of girls under the age of 18 in FSM participated in sports.
The Australian High Commission in Port Moresby funded ten Direct Aid Program projects totalling $225,000 in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The projects targeted gender equality, education, community-based livelihood, the environment and health.
Through Send Hope not Flowers, an Australian charity, DAP funding supported the Safe Motherhood Intervention Program (SMIP) to help reduce maternal death in Milne Bay. The program encourages mothers to have a supervised delivery at a healthcare centre.
DAP funding was used to purchase two birthing models to train rural healthcare staff in emergency obstetrics and purchase baby bundles, which contain basic supplies for mothers and their newborns. A peer-reviewed article, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in June 2015, noted that the SMIP initiatives have contributed to a 78 per cent reduction in the maternal death rate in the province.
The Australian High Commission in Port Vila supported 21 projects on eight islands across Vanuatu to a total value of $199,000. The projects, funded through the Direct Aid Program (DAP), focused on water, sanitation and hygiene, the empowerment of women and girls, sports for development, youth and people with disability.
In Torba Province, DAP funded the construction of a market house in the capital village of Sola on Vanualava Island, which is expected to become the main commercial centre in the remote northern part of the island country. The Torba Provincial Government has also made financial contributions to the project.
In Port Vila, DAP financially supported the Rainbow Disability Theatre Group, whose performers are people with disability, to stage a play to promote community awareness against domestic violence. The play has been performed in 20 communities on the island of Efate.
The Australian High Commission in Suva provided $800,000 for 32 projects in Fiji and Tuvalu. The projects, which received Direct Aid Program (DAP) funding, focused on post-Tropical Cyclone Winston disaster relief, child welfare, and the empowerment of women, girls, youth and people with disability.
As part of Australia's boarder response to TC Winston, DAP financially supported local NGOs, Catholic Women's League Fiji and Empower Pacific, to distribute family relief and sanitation packs to women, children and people with disability, whose homes were destroyed by the storm. DAP funding also provided the National Youth Council of Fiji with folding tables, plastic chairs, tarpaulin, weather board and materials to construct a footpath in their learning area.
Through Save the Children Fiji, DAP helped establish child friendly spaces in evacuation centres and temporary shelters for about 5000 children in 36 hard-hit areas. The spaces provide a protected environment, in which children can participate on organised activities, play, socialise and learn as they rebuild their lives.
The Australian High Commission in Tarawa funded 16 projects totalling $110,000 in Kiribati. The projects receiving Direct Aid Program (DAP) funding supported water storage and harvesting, food security and health initiatives. Potable water supply is a critical vulnerability in most of Kiribati. The provision of water tanks to communities on the outer islands addresses significant needs.
One project funded the purchase, transportation and installation of a water tank for rainwater harvesting at a Primary School in Beru island, one of the dry, southern islands of Kiribati, to provide clean potable water for the students, staff and the surrounding community.
The Australian High Commission in Wellington funded six projects on the Cook Islands and Niue totalling $26,000. The Direct Aid Program (DAP) projects placed emphasis on education and mental health and wellbeing.
In the Cook Islands, a DAP project provided materials and supplies for the Psychosocial Rehabilitation Programme at Te Kainga O Pa Taunga, the Mental Health and Wellbeing Centre, on Rarotonga. Te Kainga operates its rehabilitation program three days a week and is the only NGO providing mental health services in the Pacific Island nation.
Another DAP project in Niue provided laptop computers and software to the Hakupu Learning Program (HRP) to build e-learning capacity for local school-aged children. HRP is a community-based initiative to improve the academic performance of children in Hakupu Village in the remote Pacific Island nation.