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.
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.
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