Australian Regional Leadership Initiative visits Fiji

Save the Children is leading six influential Australians on a learning tour in Fiji from 8-12 May 2022, as part of the Australian Regional Leadership Initiative.

Attending the learning tour is journalist and advocate Virginia Haussegger, children’s entertainer and sign language researcher Emma Watkins, the founder of Boston Consulting and the Centre for Public Impact, Larry Kamener, author and climate scientist Dr Anika Molesworth, TV presenter and Chair of DFAT’s Sports Diplomacy Advisory Council Stephanie Brantz, and a Director on the Board of the National Farmers’ Federation, Lisa Minogue.

The aim of the tour is for the delegates to gain a better understanding of the impact and value of Australian development support to Fiji, including the impact of Save the Children Australia and Fiji’s delivery of the region’s largest ever ‘cash transfer’ program to families in Fiji in response to the compounding crises facing the Pacific nation.

The delegation will visit healthcare facilities, training colleges and conservation programs. They will also meet with representatives from the Women Entrepreneurs Business Council, the Pacific Disability Forum, the CEO of Tourism Fiji among others.

They will also meet with the Australian Deputy High Commissioner to Fiji, Paul Wilson, and the CEO of Save the Children Fiji, Shairana Ali.

Save the Children Australia acting CEO Mat Tinkler said the program is a great opportunity to highlight the importance of development assistance.

“The Australian aid program delivers life-saving aid to millions of children affected by conflict, poverty, and disasters around the world,” he said.

“Right now, COVID-19, the war in Ukraine and climate change are fuelling a global food and mental health crisis for children and young people.

“These learning tours show how vital a role Australian aid plays in supporting some of the most vulnerable children, including in the Pacific.”

In 2020-21, Fiji faced its worst fiscal crisis since independence due to ongoing border closures and a lack of tourism revenues, while also being hit by two tropical cyclones, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to infrastructure and livelihoods.

“We know when the economy stalls, two things happen: people are pushed into poverty; and children wear the consequences,” Mr Tinkler said.

“Australian aid has played a critical role in supporting health, education and skills and private sector recovery programs in Fiji, as well as disaster relief in the wake of two tropical cyclones.”

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