AVI 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
Since 1964, AVI has managed over 300 skilled Australians in Solomon Islands. Currently, they are placed through the following two programs:
• Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID)
• Pacific Technical Assistance Mechanism (PACTAM)
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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 nongovernment 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.
Since its commencement in 2003, Pacific Technical Assistance Facility (PACTAF) - now known as Pacific Technical Assistance Mechanism (PACTAM), has sent more than 10 technical advisors to assist the government of Solomon Islands. These placements have been with government ministries.
Main focus areas
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Working towards good governance
Through continued work with government and community organisations, Australian volunteers mentor and train local staff in order to develop organisational capacity for effective program delivery. Australian volunteers provide support in developing fundraising and marketing strategies, finalising organisational work plans, and improving human resources management.
Improving educational outcomes
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.
Improving health outcomes
AVI placements focus on building the capacity of local medical professionals through training and mentoring in order to provide improved services. Volunteers also support the coordination of maternal and child health programs, and the development of systems and processes in hospitals and pharmacies.
Supporting sustainable livelihoods
Through AVI placements, volunteers work with local organisations and communities to strengthen their livelihood and conservation programs. They help develop and implement alternative income generation activities. They also build capacity of local staff to develop and deliver promotional and campaign materials including posters, DVD’s, Website, T V and Radio programs about interventions in project areas.
Where we work
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Honiara, Gizo, Ringgi, Vanga Point, Munda, Seghe, Aruligo
Host organisation examples
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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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
Australian Volunteer Peter Irvin worked as an Organisational Sustainability and Fundraising Coordinator with Solomon Islands Development Trust (SIDT).
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Host organisation profile
SIDT is an indigenous non-governmental organisation, founded in 1982. SIDT works with communities across the provinces of Solomon Islands to promote community empowerment, community-led development and inclusive participation.
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Latest assignments available
Official Language: English
Adult literacy rate: 89%
HDI index: 143
Life expectancy: 74.66
Adult HIV prevalence rate: 0.002%
GDP per capita: $3,400
Unemployment rate: 10.8%
Maternal mortality rate: 93 deaths per 100,000 live births
Child mortality rate under 5: 70 deaths per 1000 live births
AVI placements: 326 (June 2013)
Last updated: September 2013
Millennium Development Goals Report for Solomon Islands 2010, Ministry of Development, Planning and Aid Co-ordination, Solomon Islands
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