Pacific Connect Network Dialogue – Vanuatu Communiqué

Australia-Pacific Connections for a Digital Future 

Pacific Connect Network Dialogue 

Digital Trade and Labour Mobility

11-12 March 2019, Port Vila, Vanuatu

Communiqué/ Call to Action 

  1. We, the participants of the Pacific Connect Network Dialogue, met in Port Vila, Vanuatu on Monday, 11 March and Tuesday, 12 March 2019 at the invitation of the International Centre for Democratic Partnerships (ICDP). The Dialogue was co-facilitated by Dr Ian Watt AC, Professor Ian Young AO, Mr Taholo Kami and Mr Fred Samuel and supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
  2. We congratulate the Dialogue organisers on assembling a diverse group of participants with expertise across a range of sectors and organisations, including government, community development, digital transformation, business consultancy, information and communications technology (ICT), education, media, marketing and communications. We thank all the participants for their constructive contributions to the Dialogue and their willingness to continue their engagement and collaborate on projects emanating from the event.
  3. We welcome Australia’s interest in forging stronger and more enduring strategic relationships with Pacific Island nations. We see the planned Pacific Connect Dialogues as an opportunity for current and emerging ni-Vanuatu and Australian leaders to extend their networks, work on solutions to common challenges through the ‘second track’ process and develop long-term relationships through shared experiences.
  4. The Dialogue’s focus on the Pacific Labour Scheme, the Seasonal Worker Programme and digital transformation in the Pacific is important and will help both meet Australian business demand in rural and regional Australia and provide employment opportunities for ni-Vanuatu.
  5. We believe that new projects developed by Dialogue participants can further enhance the Pacific Labour Scheme and the Seasonal Worker Programme, particularly in those rural locations. These projects will also provide solutions to enhance access, outcomes and the pastoral care of ni-Vanuatu participating in these schemes.
  6. We recognise a broad range of existing strengths in Vanuatu, including a strong sense of community, a robust work ethic and good support networks. We will therefore focus on community experiences of the Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Programme in Vanuatu in a holistic manner to leverage these existing advantages.
  7. We are confident that greater access to the Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Programme offers a path to economic and social progress in Vanuatu. While we acknowledge that a lack of resources including connectivity can hamper access, we believe that utilising digital innovation to simply the application process, improve pre- and post-devployment training, introduce storytelling to share experiences, encourage community involvement and provide better data collection and analysis will enhance ni-Vanuatu experiences both in country and abroad.
  8. We are confident that cooperation with existing Australian and Pacific stakeholders in government, business and community sectors will leverage resources and encourage their support.
  9. We hope that pooling our expertise, experience and passion for change will help drive transformative change in Vanuatu. We will call on our shared contacts to investigate the creation, adoption or adaption of our ideas. These include developing proposals to identify a range of solutions and access resources for four project areas:
    1. streamlining the application process for the Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Programme;
    2. enhancing pre- and post-orientation for workers;
    3. conducting research on the existing Scheme and Programme; and
    4. strengthening communities to provide support and encourage workers to return.
  10. We look forward to continuing our collaboration through further meetings and ICDP’s dedicated Slack forum for the Pacific Connect Community. We will continue to consider a range of practical projects and collaborate across projects where necessary to ensure continuity.
  11. We see the initial Pacific Connect Network Dialogue in Vanuatu as the first strep to achieving tangible outcomes for the benefit of ni-Vanuatu citizens and communities, as well as creating personal bonds, deepening trust and creating enduring relationships between ni-Vanuatu and Australians.
  12. We believe the Dialogue met our expectations by addressing topics of importance to the Pacific, providing a forum for open and honest discussion, expanding our networks and contacts, and initiating joint tangible projects to take forward.
  13. We appreciate the opportunity to participate in the planned Second Annual Pacific Connect Forum, to be held in Sydney on 18-19 September 2019, and look forward to receiving invitations along with all Dialogue participants across the Pacific.