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Pacific aid too important for the axe

By Matt Thistlethwaite - posted Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Port Villa is the tropical capital of Vanuatu with amphitheatre hills overlooking a sprawling harbour.

On a recent visit I got an insight into the lives of our Pacific friends.

In a modest cottage on the outskirts of the capital is the Vanuatu Women's Centre.


There on a sticky afternoon a brave young girl told me of her battle with domestic violence.

She had left an abusive relationship with her kids and was rebuilding her life with the support of the remarkable staff of the centre.

She had established her own businesses after receiving vocational training through an Australian technical college and was optimistic about her future.

This is one of the many Australian aid success stories, tackling problems at the heart of Melanesian society - domestic violence and a lack of job opportunities.

Domestic violence is a problem that Australia shares with the Pacific. Governments need to do more to eliminate this horrid crime.

That's why I am concerned about the Abbott Government's cuts to foreign aid and their effects on social progress in the Pacific.


I was in the Pacific with a delegation led by our nation's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. The Shadow Foreign Minister Tanya Plibersek also attended.

In the Solomon Islands, Nauru and Vanuatu, Julie Bishop promised the leaders of our Pacific neighbours that there would be no cuts to the overseas development aid that Australia was providing to their respective countries.

Australia is the largest development aid provider to these small island nations in our neighbourhood and our support is vital to their continued economic and social development.

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About the Author

Matt Thistlethwaite is the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and the MHR for Kingsford Smith.

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