As we count down to the end of 2019, the team at ICDP thought it would be a great idea to take stock and reflect on all of this year’s achievements and programme developments. Another productive and rewarding year for our small team, and we are honoured to have shared it with our inspiring and close-knit Community throughout the Pacific and across Australia.
Pacific Connect contract extension
In September, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), extended the Pacific Connect programme for a further three years. The extension will allow us to help deliver the Australian Government’s ‘Pacific Step-Up’ agenda by improving regional people-to-people connections with our theme of Australia-Pacific Connections for the digital future. Supported by Global Access Partner’s (GAP) alumni network and benefiting from Strategic Development Group’s Pacific connections, ICDP draws on the very best of Australian and Pacific expertise and utilises the GAP second track model to expand and improve strategic discussions, policy processes and networks between Australia and the Pacific. We look forward to working evermore closely with the Pacific’s emerging leaders to continue building on the strong foundations established over the past two years.
Our Community continues to grow
The alumni network of the Pacific Connect programme, the Community, continues to grow, with 484 members across 9 countries. We’re proud to play our part in the Australian government’s regional gender development goals, with female representation at 63%. Eleven Dialogues were held throughout the year, ranging from digital trade and labour mobility to creative industries, and disruptive technologies in agriculture to digital capacity building. To ensure each participant gets the most from attending our Dialogues, workshops are held to foster knowledge sharing between Pacific Islanders and Australians. In 2019, attendees took part in 8 workshops, including interactive sessions on blockchain (run by our Pacific Partnerships Manager Kenneth Katafono of Traseable Solutions), financial education (delivered by Andrew Carriline, ICDP Ambassador), storytelling (Sarah Mak and David Lloyd-Lewis of The StoryBoxes) and a grant writing (presented by Dr Anna Blackman, Insight Collective Group) all key members of our network. This year, we engaged with over 350 people across our dialogues, workshops and networking events. Watch a video on our Dialogues.
Community projects reaching success
Our Dialogues aim to meaningfully improve Australian-Pacific relationships by pairing Aussie businesses and entrepreneurs with Pacific Islander counterparts to create a few practical ideas to take forward. It has been fantastic to see projects developed by community members and gain funding! A big congratulations to the team members behind Pacific Finds, Shifting Homes (VR project), Less Than Container Load, MobileMe and Every Building Is A Classroom for their respective project progression and achievements.
‘Every Building Is A Classroom’ awarded Government funding
The project team behind ‘Every Building Is a Classroom’ continued to develop the initiative from the formative Dialogue in the Solomon Islands in 2018. The team has experienced wonderful success in 2019 by being crowned one of four inaugural Australia – Solomon Islands ‘Technology for Development Innovation Challenge’ winners by DFAT’s Cyber Affairs division in April.
Inaugural Tonga Dialogue
We were delighted to host the inaugural Tonga Network Dialogue in November. With the fantastic support of ‘Tonga Women in ICT’ and the Ministry of Metrology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC). The Dialogue got underway with a financial literacy workshop run by Andrew Carriline, ICDP Ambassador, before twenty Tongan and Australian emerging leaders came together to discuss digital development opportunities for the country.
Annual Ideas Exchange
Sixty-three members of our Community came together in Sydney from 18-19 September to attend the annual Pacific Connect Ideas Exchange, co-hosted by ICDP and Global Access Partners (GAP) and supported by DFAT. The event was the culmination of ICDP’s activities conducted over the previous twelve months. Participants engaged in study tours to local innovation hubs, networking sessions, project presentations, a pitching workshop and a business leadership panel.
Seeing participant-led projects and all associated benefits of working within a project team come to life brings us so much joy, and the MobileMe Mapathon was no exception. ICDP staff joined disability rights pioneers, the general public and Pacific Connect Community members for the Mapathon on International Day of People with Disability in Suva, Fiji. Since the ‘Technology Enabling Inclusiveness’ Dialogue held in Suva earlier this year, the MobileMe project team has been working hard to develop their mapping initiative and online platform initiative, culminating in their app and programme launch. The Mapathon saw more than 100 community members walk the streets of Suva, using the ICDP sponsored, Common-Code developed app to lodge infrastructure reports for people with disability. The team collected more than 300 data points throughout the day, and we can’t wait to see the development of infrastructure both in Suva and in regional centres as a result of the mapping exercise. See how the day unfolded.
Micro investment programme launched
ICDP launched a micro investment programme to maximise the potential and support the development of Community-led projects. The funding supports Pacific Connect’s objective of building and strengthening relationships between emerging leaders and is designed to provide seed funding in line with a project’s research, app development, promotion or training needs. Anyone from the Community can apply, whether they’re from Australia, Fiji, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga or Vanuatu. Click here to see what it is all about.
Looking ahead to 2020
Next year will undoubtedly be an exciting journey for us and the wider Pacific Connect Community. Our Network Dialogues begin in Brisbane for the latest instalment of the ‘Pacific Women Entrepreneurs’ events, this time focusing on creating social impact businesses and social entrepreneurship. The programme travels to Fiji, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu in the first half of the year to reconnect with the Community and engage new members in projects. New themes for Dialogues include social impact and sustainable development entrepreneurship, cyber security development and education, female IT entrepreneurship, tourism and big data.
Once again from all of us at ICDP, we look forward to developing stronger Australia-Pacific relations with you and wish you all a Happy New Year and a festive holiday season.