Face-to-face talanoa creates vision for future

First face-to-face talanoa creates a vision & ‘core’ for current and future network members

Twenty-six emerging leaders from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji met in Fiji from 5-8 May at the invitation of the International Centre for Democratic Partnerships (ICDP). This was the first face-to-face meeting of Pacific Connect Community members since early 2020 border closures due to the pandemic. The Dialogue was co-facilitated by Michael Pilbrow, Founder, Strategic Development Group and Taholo Kami, CEO & Principal Partner, Kami Pasifiki.

ICDP was fortunate to be able to assemble a diverse group with expertise traversing health & disability, youth engagement, sport, information technology, music, business & entrepreneurship, digital media, legal affairs, business development, academia, and agriculture. Their collective long-term involvement in the Pacific Connect Program has been impactful, leading to established business networks, the implementation of successful community development projects, and strengthened people-to-people connections through knowledge sharing initiatives.

The dialogue was designed to provide opportunities to re-engage and re-invigorate connections after a long hiatus from face-to-face convening. Participants discussed ways to create sustainability around the program’s activities, particularly leadership and digital knowledge development. Participants also felt it was important to develop a collective vision for the current and future network members. The following statement was arrived at as a foundation to build a resilient and strong network of diverse individuals:

“A visible, resilient, diversified, socially inclusive and self-sustaining village that uses technology to embrace Pacific Values, broaden the imagination, and harness a strategic exchange of skills between the people of Australia and the Pacific.”

Discussions also encompassed generating opportunities for further capacity building to underpin economic development activities across the region. Key sessions included community-led presentations on ‘Designing a Digital Community’ and ‘Designing the Fellowship – a Deliberate Leader’, facilitated by Cameron Neil and Kylie Ellwood/Dr Anna Blackman respectively.

The participants identified the following core priority areas for the network to focus on including, but not limited to, digital skills, leadership skills, income generation, and capacity building. It was also agreed that ‘cross-cutting’ pillars should form the basis of the network’s interactions: social inclusion and gender equality, ‘Pacific Values’, and convening methods.

Through the work of local Hub Coordinators Shurti Kumar and Salote Waqairatu the group was also fortunate to visit a number of social enterprises and local businesses. These visits provided a great opportunity to see more of Fiji and learn about some amazing and inspirational people and organisations doing great things for their communities. The important elements of resilience development and self-sustainability were very evident from these visits.

This dialogue has helped to further strengthen existing relationships and create new connections with the participants comprising a core group who will continue to engage with the Pacific Connect Community and their wider networks to amplify the vision and priority areas identified. ICDP prides itself on deepening trust and creating enduring relationships that help drive transformative change in the Pacific and this event has continued on this successful theme.