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Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands

Australian volunteer Trainer Pharmacist, Michelle Pirpinias with Pharmacy Officer Edmond Toos (left) and Pharmacy Officer John Berry (right) at the dispensary at National Referral Hospital Pharmaceutical Department. Photo: Michael Bainbridge/AVI

AVI in Solomon Islands

Since 1964, AVI has managed over 300 skilled Australians in Solomon Islands. Currently, they are placed through Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID).

Skilled Australians sent by AVI have worked in all provinces and across all sectors in Solomon Islands, providing technical assistance, developing capacity and mentoring governments and a diverse range of non-government and church-based organisations.

Following the June 2000 coup, AVI evacuated all AVI volunteers from Solomon Islands. AVI was the first international organisation with a volunteer program to resume, returning three Australian volunteers in January 2001, and three months after the signing of the Townsville Peace Accord.

Working towards good governance

Australian volunteers support the law and justice sector by developing systems and processes across departments. Australian volunteers build organisational capacity of government and civil society organisations in financial and procurement policy.

Enhancing human development

Working with educational institutions, Australian volunteers provide professional development and training opportunities for local teachers, as well as support in developing relevant and practical curriculum and training materials, particularly for vocational training centres. Volunteers support local health systems to improve quality of health services.

Supporting economic growth

Australian volunteers work with local organisations to build capacity of small businesses especially to strengthen the role of women in business.

About Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands is an archipelago of islands and coral atolls situated to the North East of Australia. It is geographically and culturally diverse and has over 90 linguistic groups.

The population of more than half a million is spread across 900 islands. The economy is based heavily on agriculture and delivery of services can be difficult.

Socio-economic

Solomon Islands is ranked in the bottom quarter of the medium human development countries (as measured by the Human Development Index). There are a number of socio-economic issues confronting Solomon Islands that have caused this low ranking. Foremost among these is the issue of poverty. Job opportunities are in short supply, with little formal employment outside Honiara. The situation is aggravated by rising unemployment, especially among young people. There are also growing regional disparities, and provincial development lags behind development in the main centres. Transport and communications in rural areas remain limited, and inadequate infrastructure and unrealistic planning pose further challenges to development.

Education

While Solomon Islands has made considerable progress in increasing access to primary and secondary education, disadvantages communities still struggle to access education. Increasing school dropout rates, the quality of education, and poor teacher motivation remain a challenge. Along with shortage of qualified teachers, a lack of resources hinders improvement in the education sector.   

Health

Many health indicators for Solomon Islands, such as the availability and performance of health facilities, are poor. Further complicating this is the major shortage of trained medical personnel. This situation is compounded due to the population being spread across numerous islands and a geographically large area, making it even more difficult to provide cost-effective health services to isolated areas and outer islands.

Environment

Climate changes, and other environmental issues, are now a major challenge for development in Solomon Islands. Rising sea levels resulting from global warming, illegal logging, increasing solid waste (especially in urban areas), and increased pressure on coastal resources due to commercial activities, are all serious issues facing the country.

Volunteer profile

Louisa explains how her volunteer experience allowed her to live in the Solomon Islands and learn about its issues and opportunities, and work with an amazing organisation helping local communities to say yes to sustainable land use.

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Host organisation profile

SIDT is an indigenous non-governmental organisation, founded in 1982.  Since its establishment, SIDT has been one of the primary advocates of development at a community level in Solomon Islands. SIDT works with communities across the provinces of Solomon Islands to promote community empowerment, community-led development and inclusive participation

AVI’s partnership with SIDT started with the placement of AVI volunteer Community Development worker Albert Barelds in 1982. This volunteer position initially focused on training up rural-based Mobile Teams who delivered a range of training programs. This has eventually evolved into the development of roles to strengthen the systems of SIDT, provide capacity development in specialised skills in community development, drama, media and other programs. Since 1982 AVI has placed 35 volunteers with SIDT.

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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.