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Fiji

Australian volunteer Training Adviser Lee Blake , Litiana Maivuniwi, Harry William, Marica Rasaqiwa, with ceramic wall hanging masks, in front of the Western Arts & Crafts Society’s building.Photo: Harjono Djoyobisono

AVI in Fiji

Since 1967, Australian Volunteers International (AVI) has managed more than 200 volunteer assignments in Fiji; improving the capacity of Fijians and Fijian institutions, and peacefully managing the complex social and economic challenges underlying the process of development.

Historically, AVI has sent skilled Australians to Fiji through various programs. Through the Pacific Technical Assistance Mechanism (PACTAM) more than 15 technical advisors have assisted the individual Government Ministries in Fiji.

Australian volunteers for International development (AVID) is the main program through which AVI continues sending volunteers to Fiji. Initially, AVID assignments were focused in areas of governance and education. However, in recent years, the program’s focus has shifted to strengthen the capacity of local and regional non-government organisations.

Improving human development

Through assignments that support initiatives to address non-communicable diseases, Mental Health, Maternal and Child health and health systems strengthening. Assignments will support community based vocational training institutions through relevant curriculum development; strengthening of training and teaching; and providing overall administrative and governance support.

Supporting gender empowerment

Through assignments that will support women’s groups in institutional strengthening and improved program delivery. Assignments will also support the government initiatives in Child Protection.

Improving disability inclusion

AVID assignments will support Disabled People’s Organisations to increase disability inclusiveness in all areas.

Strengthening disaster risk reduction efforts

AVID assignments will support national disaster emergency response with Government departments and Civil Society organisations, pre-positioning of relief supplies; working with communities to reduce potential risks and developing initiatives of adapting to climate change. 

Improve sports for development efforts

AVID assignments will support local sporting organisations and initiatives as a useful way to address issues related to health (particularly non-communicable diseases like diabetes), community development, disability inclusion and gender equality.

Increased Private Sector development

Through assignments that will provide technical skills to strengthen and improve sustainable livelihood programs and help develop innovative ideas. Assignments will support institutional strengthening of organisations supporting livelihoods work in communities and build capacity of small to medium businesses that are locally owned.

About Fiji

Fiji is an archipelago of 330 tropical islands. A former British colony, this South Pacific nation is rich in natural resources.

Socio-economic

Fiji is the most developed of the Pacific Island economies. By global standards, however, the economy is fragile, its geographic location vulnerable to natural disasters, isolation from major markets, issues associated with land management, political instability and an antiquated infrastructure. Within Fijian society both women and youth face additional hurdles. Women are less likely to receive tertiary education, gain access to better jobs or be promoted. Youth unemployment, urban drift and homelessness are also increasing in Fiji.

Education

Fiji has a high net enrolment ratio in primary education. However, increasing primary rate dropout rates is a major challenge for Fiji. One of the main reasons for this increase is the inability of the students to afford education. Maintaining the curriculum level equivalent to the changing labour market is another challenge faced by the education sector.

Health

Overall Fiji’s health sector faces problems relating to lack of financial resources to develop health infrastructure and staff shortages in key specialized areas.

Fiji has under-five mortality rate of 23.6 and maternal mortality rate of 59. The government of Fiji has created a health service network that ensures most Fijians are within a one hour walk of a nurse or doctor. However, the quality of services varies significantly, and the health centres are concentrated in urban areas.

Environment

Like many developing countries, Fiji faces the key challenge of combating the pollution caused by increased urbanisation and industrial growth. Increased strain on waste facilities and poor industrial practice are of particular concern due to the fact that it can lead to contamination of the island's limited water sources. Pressure on agricultural land has led to increasing erosion which in turn has increased land degradation and threatened the livelihoods of many farmers. In the future this is likely to lead to food shortages in the long-term.

 

Volunteer profile

Several Australian volunteers are working to improve mental health services in Fiji. Read about the nation-wide approach led by the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

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Read more volunteer stories

Host organisation profile

Through a multi-disciplinary team of doctors, nurses, medical orderlies and counsellors, St. Giles provides services to persons with intellectual disability as well as clients with psychiatric illness, organic brain disorders, or alcohol and drug addiction.

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Read more partner organisation profiles


The Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program is an Australian Government initiative. This program has been developed by Australian Volunteers International, a delivery partner for the AVID program.