Sport for development in the Pacific

Pacific Sports Partnerships (PSP) Program

The $29 million Pacific Sports Partnerships (PSP) program is Australia’s flagship sport for development program in the Pacific.

Through PSP, Australia supports activities to address primary risk factors associated with non-communicable diseases, particularly physical inactivity, and address inequalities experienced by women, girls and people living with disability.

The PSP is delivered through partnerships between the Australian Government and Australian, regional and Pacific Island sports organisations. The PSP currently supports eleven sports across nine countries (see Table 1). 

Table 1: Footprint of the PSP program in 2015-17 by sport and country.

table showing countries where PSP activities are supported: 2015-16

* NRL are not funded through the PSP program but are a significant and valued partner in Australia’s sport for development efforts in the Pacific.

Support for Rugby League in the Pacific

The Australian Government has been a strong supporter of the NRL in the Pacific, with $4 million allocated to develop rugby league in PNG through the Australia-PNG bilateral aid agreement over 2009-14.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, signed an MoU on 8 May 2014  with the NRL and PNG Department of Education for the League Bilong Laif program (League for Life) which provides funding of $3.5 million from 2013-16 to help improve physical, social, literacy and maths skills of 50,000 students across 80 schools.

An additional $500,000 was provided to NRL in 2015 to expand the League Bilong Laif program into Fiji, Samoa and Tonga in 2015-16. The NRL will work with key groups in these countries to engage with more than 40,000 students each year across 230 schools, using 100 volunteers, to be more active in sport and have a healthier lifestyle.

The NRL’s overarching Pacific Strategy connects Australia and the Pacific through rugby league and builds on the great success of NRL in Papua New Guinea.  The Pacific Strategy improves participation of both men and women in the sport, delivers education and health initiatives, and provides mentoring and leadership opportunities for women and girls. 

The PSP program has completed two phases (Phase 1: $15 million over 2009–2014, Phase 2: $14 million over 2013–2017) and is currently being redesigned to strengthen its development effectiveness and contribution to public diplomacy.  Independent evaluations of the PSP program can be found here:

DFAT has engaged GHD Australia to manage the PSP program 2015-18.

Video: Improving the lives of people with disability through sport

Watch this video on YouTube

Video: Combating non-communicable diseases

Watch this video on YouTube

Pacific Sports Partnerships Innovation Fund 2015-17

Up to $1 million in small grants will be awarded over 2015-17 to Australian sporting organisations to encourage partnerships and activities in the Pacific that complement the PSP program.

The fund is designed to support innovation and foster new partnerships through sport in the Pacific.  All Australian National Sporting Organisations and National Disability Sporting Organisations were invited to apply on 1 December 2015. A total of 13 Innovation Fund grants were awarded (see table 2).

Table 2: Organisations and activities supported though the Pacific Sports Partnerships Innovation Fund 2015-17
Organisation/s Sport/s Activity Focus country Funding provided
Australian Rugby League Commission Rugby League Education and gender equality evaluation; PNGRFL coaching capacity curriculum; and gender equality and domestic violence awareness campaign
Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Fiji and Tonga $73,180
Australian Rugby Union Rugby Union Community Heroes – physical activity amongst girls and women; vocational skills; female leaders; holistic partnerships Fiji $67,000
Badminton Australia/Badminton Oceania/
Netball Australia/ Cricket Australia/International Cricket Council
Badminton, Netball, Cricket, Football and Rugby League Pacific Sports Media and Communications Training in partnership with ABC International Development Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji $97,704
Cricket Australia/
Netball Australia
Cricket, Netball, Basketball and Rugby League Pacific Women's Sports Leadership Program – increase leadership capability and confidence of women in sport Papua New Guinea and Pacific Regional $123,700
FIBA in Oceania Basketball Pacific Youth Leaders Basketball Camp – life skills, non-communicable diseases awareness and inclusion Pacific regional $79,843
Football Federation Australia Football Advancing Local Knowledge Through Community-Based Monitoring and Evaluation – a pilot study Fiji and Vanuatu $71,000
Gymnastics Australia Gymnastics AeroGym Fiji – non-communicable diseases, women and children, disability inclusion, through movement and dance Fiji  $50,000
Hockey Australia Hockey Pacific Hockey Program – active and healthy lifestyles, gender equality, social inclusion through new Hockey 5s format Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu $50,000
Netball Australia Netball SamoaNet and Kau Mai Tonga Netipolo programs to support health and education outcomes Samoa and Tonga $75,000
Oceania Athletics Association Athletics Athletics for the Future – healthy living and disability inclusion for remote atoll communities Nauru, Kiribati $50,000
Rowing Australia Rowing Get Healthy Rowing PNG – healthy living, physical activity Papua New Guinea $50,000
Table Tennis Australia,
Oceania Badminton and Oceania Paralympic Committee
Table Tennis and Badminton Research project – can sports change attitudes towards children with disabilities? Fiji, Solomon Islands and Tonga $150,000
Tennis Australia Tennis Tennis Hot Shots in Fiji – adapting Tennis Australia's learn through play program to increase physical activity of girls and their families in Fiji Fiji $49,000

Pacific sport for development programs which have recently concluded

Pacific Sport Development Grants ($1.2m over 5 years) – Concluded30 June 2014: grants of up to AUD $10,000 provided for targeted small-medium sized community sport projects that help contribute to social development outcomes.

ASOP Country Programs ($13m over 5 years) - Concluded 30 June 2015: delivered by government and civil society partners in Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. Activities focused on using sport to enhance the lives of people with disability and promote healthy behaviours amongst target populations.

ASOP Country Programs were hugely successful in many country settings, with many ASOP-funded programs being absorbed into partner-government ministries as ongoing activities upon conclusion of Australian funding. 
Further information on sport for development programs and achievements can be found at: on the Clearinghouse for Sport website.


Women's island cricket in Vanuatu. Credit: ICC

Last Updated: 30 October 2017