Stepping-up in Vanuatu

Australia and Vanuatu have a strong and enduring bilateral relationship, based on shared values and interests in a prosperous and stable region.

Prime Minister Morrison and Prime Minister of Vanuatu Charlot Salwai during visit to Vanuatu – 16 January 2019. Photo: DFAT

"[Our] relationship is based on common values, shared aspirations, respect and friendship, and our shared interest in the peace and prosperity of our home, the Pacific…We work together to support economic and human development, national security and regional stability, climate and disaster resilience and response, and other areas important to our relationship…"

Joint Statement, Prime Ministers' Morrison and Salwai – 16 January 2019

Australia established a presence in Vanuatu in 1978 and championed the case for Vanuatu's independence in the United Nations and Pacific Forums in the lead up to independence in 1980. We continue to work closely with Vanuatu, including as a major economic partner, and principal security partner. Australia's engagement aligns with Vanuatu's National Sustainable Development Plan 2030 and Australia's 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper and Pacific Step-up.  Engagement in 2018-19 demonstrated Australia's strengthened strategic partnership with Vanuatu.


Development partnership

Australia is Vanuatu's largest bilateral development partner, providing $63 million in grant-based Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Vanuatu in 2018-19. The focus of Australia's aid program is to support the development of effective governance systems and institutions facilitate economic growth and enable better-educated, healthier and resilient ni-Vanuatu people.

Ni-Vanuatu children enjoying drinkable water from a tap funded through the Australia-Vanuatu Tropical Cyclone Pam Recovery Program. Photo: DFAT

Australia targeted the economic empowerment of women by working with the Vanuatu Skills Partnership and Ministry of Tourism, Trades, Industry, Commerce and Ni-Vanuatu Business to strengthen the Malampa Handicraft Centre, the first community company established in Vanuatu. Australia supported the centre and its 330 registered female members to introduce improved governance processes, source equipment and resources, and expand production.

Malampa Handicraft Centre company certificate. Photo: Vanuatu Daily Post/Adorina Massing

Australia funded a number of innovative projects in the health sector. CARE International trialled community score cards as a way to bring communities and health workers together to solve local health problems.  A science innovation by Monash University introduced Wolbachia bacteria into Port Vila's wild mosquito population which will help combat dengue. Vanuatu won the Pacific Islands Food Revolution, a reality television series that delivered healthy eating messages across the Pacific.

First Pacific Island Food Revolution Champions Leo Vusilai (l) and Knox Taleo (r). Photo: Vanuatu Daily Post/Faanati Mamea

More about Australia's aid program to Vanuatu


Security partnership

Australia and Vanuatu continue to deepen our security partnership driven by a shared interest in a safe and secure Pacific region. We are working together to build police capability and improve community safety and reslience. Guided by the Boe Declaration on regional security, we are working together to address the Pacific's unique security interests including transnational crime, human, environmental and cyber security.

New female Vanuatu Police recruits with Australian Federal Police Officer, Angus Beveridge. Photo: DFAT

Vanuatu will receive a replacement Guardian patrol boat under the Pacific Maritime Security Program (PMSP). The $2 billion (over 30 years) program consists of replacement Guardian patrol boats, integrated aerial surveillance, and enhancements to regional cooperation.

General Angus Campbell, Chief of the Defence Force, with the Vanuatu Police Maritime Wing during a visit to Vanuatu. Photo: DFAT

People-to-people links

Australia and Vanuatu share strong people-to-people links across government, business and community.

The Vanuatu Soul Harvest choir with HE Jenny Da Rin, Australian High Commissioner to Vanuatu, prior to their Australian visit. Photo: DFAT

Vanuatu is the largest source of workers for the Seasonal Worker Programme and engages strongly in the Pacific Labour Mobility Scheme. Labour mobility is a win-win for Australia and Vanuatu, helping to fill labour shortages in Australia and provide additional opportunities for workers to earn income and develop skills.

Mango harvesting in the Northern Territory. Photo: DFAT

Vanuatu receives around 50 Australian Volunteers for International Development each year. These volunteers work in a wide range of sectors to contribute to Vanuatu's development and to build enduring people-to-people links between Australia and Vanuatu.

Dr Damon Ashworth supporting the mental health service in Vanuatu as a part of the Australian Volunteers Program. Photo: DFT

Australia Awards offer the next generation of Vanuatu's leaders an opportunity to undertake study, research and professional development in Australia and the Pacific region. Australia Awards complement development assistance to Vanuatu by building human resources in priority sectors. Through these prestigious scholarships, Australia is supporting ni-Vanuatu students to build the skills and knowledge to drive change and influence economic and social development.

Viran Molisa-Trief Australia Award Alumni - Master of Public Diplomacy and graduated at the end of 2011 and now the first Ni-Vanuatu female judge of the Supreme Court 2. Photo: DFAT
Last Updated: 18 October 2019