Office of the Pacific

The Office of the Pacific was established in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to support Australia’s deepening engagement with the Pacific, to enhance whole-of-government coordination and to drive implementation of our regional activities, consistent with the priorities of Pacific countries.

Group of people
Head of the Office of the Pacific, Ewen McDonald, meets with market vendors at Honiara Central Market. DFAT supports women’s economic empowerment through the Markets for Change program in Honiara, Auki and Gizo, implemented by UN Women. Photo: DFAT

The creation of the Office has seen a significant increase in DFAT resourcing on the Pacific and will support our efforts to develop even closer ties, including management of our ongoing bilateral relationships and the delivery of the Pacific Step-up. Australia has dedicated a record $1.4 billion in development assistance to the Pacific in 2019-20.

The Office includes staff from DFAT, alongside secondees and transfers from the Department of Defence, Home Affairs, Environment, Finance, Treasury, AFP, Agriculture & Water Resources, Attorney-General’s and Health, as well as from the Infrastructure and Project Finance Agency and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority — with more to join soon.

The Office will act as the custodian of Australia’s already deep relationships with the region and support the delivery of the Government’s package of innovative new initiatives in the Pacific, including labour mobility and infrastructure financing.

Ewen McDonald and Manasseh Sogavare
Ewen McDonald, Head of the Office of the Pacific, called on the Hon Manasseh Sogavare, Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, to offer his congratulations on his re-election. Photo: DFAT
Group of people
Ewen McDonald, Head of the Office of the Pacific, led inaugural Vanuatu and Australia Senior Officials Talks in June 2019. Photo: DFAT
Ewen and students at a counter window
Ewen McDonald, Head of the Office of the Pacific, visited the Australia Pacific Training Coalition to meet their trainers and experience the skills of commercial cookery and hospitality students from Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji. Photo: APTC/Soli Middleby
Officials beside the building
Head of the Office of the Pacific, Ewen McDonald, accompanied the Hon Marise Payne, Foreign Minister, Minister for Women, to Fiji in June – her first visit as Foreign Minister following Australia’s May 2019 general election. Once completed, Blackrock Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Disaster Relief Camp (pictured) will be a world class facility. Photo: @MarisePayne Twitter

Head of the Office of the Pacific

“How we as a Government work can be as important as what we do. And an important element of the Office that I head is just that — how we work with the Pacific.”

Ewen McDonald, Head of the Office of the Pacific

On 18 January 2019, DFAT Deputy Secretary Ewen McDonald was appointed Head of the Office of the Pacific. In support of Ministers, Mr McDonald facilitates our efforts to build stronger relationships with Pacific leaders, governments and peoples, as well as with regional organisations and institutions. He engages actively and consults widely with our Pacific Island partners to ensure Australia’s development assistance is delivering on our shared priorities for a prosperous, sovereign and stable region.

Prior to his appointment, Mr McDonald was Australian High Commissioner to New Zealand, with accreditation to the Cook Islands and Niue, working closely with New Zealand on collaboration and cooperation in the Pacific including implementation of Australia’s ‘step up’ and New Zealand’s ‘reset’. He also worked with the Cook Islands and Niue to support the implementation of their development priorities.

More about Ewen McDonald

Ewen McDonald
Ewen McDonald, Head of the Office of the Pacific
Last Updated: 9 September 2019