Pacific visitors program

The Pacific visitors program is designed to give researchers from Melanesia, the wider Pacific and Timor Leste a short term scholarship to conduct research and writing at ANU. Pacific Visitors generally carry out a discrete piece of research or writing for publication under the guidance and supervision of senior SSGM staff member, sometimes an academic they have been collaborating with. Some Pacific Visitors have come to the ANU in advance of a conference, utilising their time at SSGM to refine their presentation and to present it internally to an SSGM audience in advance of the conference.

Pacific visitors are not necessarily from an academic institution and many previous Pacific Visitors have been based in civil society organisations or government.

See the following page for past Pacific visitors

Past Pacific Visitors

Hon Rick Hou MP

April 2016

A Member of the Solomon Islands National Parliament, Rick Hou was hosted by SSGM and CDI during the first week of April 2016. Rick Hou was elected to Parliament for Small Malaita Constituency on 4 August 2010 and re-elected on 19 November 2014, and is currently the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament. Previously, he served as Governor of the Central Bank of Solomon Islands for over 15 years during the 1990s and the first half of last decade. In 2003, Islands Business magazine named him “Man of the Year” for the Pacific region. Prior to his election to Parliament he held a senior position in the World Bank.
The centrepiece of Rick’s visit was a lively and informative seminar on the topic ‘A Day in the Life of an MP in Solomon Islands’ in which he gave a unique insight into the day-to-day pressures and challenges of representing a rural constituency. The seminar provided valuable insights into Constituency Development Funds, the operation of which remains poorly understood despite its importance in the political economy of contemporary Solomon Islands. Rick expanded his seminar presentation into a Discussion Paper which will be published by SSGM in July 2016. During his visit Rick also led a roundtable discussion for SSGM scholars and had separate conversations with DFAT.

Gregoire Nimbtik

April 2016

Mr Gregoire Nimbtik, who recently completed his PhD studies at RMIT University, was hosted by SSGM in April 2016. Gregoire began his career in Vanuatu’s public service as Deputy Director of the Vanuatu Comprehensive Reform Program and in 2004 was appointed as the Director of the Department of Strategic Policy, Planning and Aid Coordination at the Ministry of the Prime Minister. He holds a Masters of Development Administration from ANU and a Bachelor of Arts from USP. In 2012 he was awarded an Australian Leadership Award to undertake doctoral research at RMIT University. His doctoral thesis examined corruption and governance in Vanuatu. During his month at SSGM Gregoire worked on a number of publications, including a Discussion Paper and an In Brief, which will be available later in 2016. He also presented a SSGM Seminar on his findings from a study of corruption in the context of Vanuatu government and society and had separate conversations with DFAT.

Gordon Darcy Lilo

May/June 2016

Gordon Darcy Lilo, who was Prime Minister of Solomon Islands from 2011 to 2014, was hosted by SSGM for a four week period in May and June 2016. Prior to his election as Prime Minister, he enjoyed a distinguished career as a Minister, a Member of Parliament and earlier, as a senior public servant. He is an alumnus of ANU, having undertaken postgraduate studies at the Crawford School from 1999-2001. During his visit Gordon led a number of seminars with SSGM staff and took part in two formal structured conversations: the first of these was with the Coral Bell School’s Greg Fry on Solomon Islands’ foreign relations and Pacific regional diplomacy, and the second was with SSGM’s James Batley on the topic of political culture; RAMSI and its legacy; elections; and state-building in Solomon Islands. Both conversations provided participants with unrivalled direct insights into the views of one of Solomon Islands’ most senior figures and into decision-making processes at the highest level. Edited transcripts of both conversations will be available in early 2016/17. A number of staff and higher degree students took advantage of Gordon’s presence on campus to interview him one-on-one as part of their current research; Gordon also held a separate meeting with DFAT.

Ioana Chan Mow

May/June 2015

Ioana Chan Mow is the principal investigator for the National University of Samoa PaceNet plus team. PaceNet is a regional consortium looking into climate change in the Pacific and is funded by the European Union. She joined SSGM for a period of four weeks over May/June 2015. Ioana’s research complements research being done in two of SSGM’s clusters. Her work on information and communication for development in the Pacific region (ICT4D) relates directly to the research being done in the digital technologies field of the Gender, Health, Social Development & Migration Cluster. Notably, she is one of the few Pacific academics in the region working in the area of ICT4D. Ioana’s work on e-government in the Pacific nicely intersects with work being done by the academics in the Politics, Elections, Leadership and Governance Cluster. During her time at SSGM, Ioana worked to complete a number of publications focusing on (ICT4D), including a book chapter on e-government in the Pacific. The book chapter was based on a survey study conducted in collaboration with the School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington. This will be part of an edited collection led by AP Graham Hassall from the School of Government. Ioana also completed a discussion paper, which outlined a research agenda on ICT4D utilising a mixed methods approach. This qualitative research will work towards filling the noted gap in Pacific-focused articles with relevant contextual background. Ioana presented her work in an SSGM Seminar: Towards a People centered Early Warning and Disaster Response System in Samoa: The use of ICT by Samoans during disaster.

Troy Keal’ii Lau

April / May 2015

Troy Keali’i Lau is a PhD Scholar at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is of Hawai’ian descent and his current thesis looks at the barriers and enablers to tertiary academic success for Pacific student athletes in California. Troy’s research project aligns well with the sports mobility linkage project that Roannie Ng Shiu and Richard Eves, from the Gender, Health, Social Development and Migration Cluster, have submitted. His thesis also supports the aims of Pasifika Australia, which seeks to understand factors impacting on Pasifika young peoples’ aspirations and participation in higher education. Additionally, he is also a professional football coach and can provide much needed insight into coaches’ perspectives on athletes’ health and wellbeing. During his four weeks at SSGM, Troy produced a book chapter that compared and contrasted how the sports of football and rugby have developed between the United States and Australia and progressed work on his thesis literature review, which focused on indigenous critical theories and methodologies and colonisation in the Pacific. He also delivered an SSGM Seminar based on his work and on the collaboration between the ANU and the National Rugby League (NRL).

Joseph Kim Suwamaru

January/February 2015

In 2013, Joseph Suwamaru received his PhD from Divine Word University (DWU), PNG. He now holds the position of Senior Lecturer, teaching in the Information Systems Department at DWU. His PhD focused on the impact of mobile phones on socioeconomic development in PNG, collecting data from the Highlands, Coastal and Islands regions. Prior to obtaining his PhD, Joseph worked in the PNG telecommunications industry for 23 years. He also served five years as Vice Chairman to the Asia Pacific Tele-community study groups based in Bangkok. Joseph’s research interests align closely with the research framework and priorities of the Gender, Health, Social Development and Migration cluster. His work focuses on the impact of mobile phones on social and political development in PNG. His research is unique in that it encompasses fieldwork across a variety of regions in PNG. His professional background provides a valuable basis for his perspectives on a range of issues regarding telecommunications in PNG, including telecommunications reforms, mobile phone usage and connectivity in PNG.

During his time at SSGM, Joseph delivered an SSGM Seminar and produced an SSGM Discussion Paper in collaboration with other SSGM scholars that considers approaches to mobile phone usage in PNG. He also produced an SSGM In Brief on the ‘Impact of mobile phone usage in PNG’ and secured a book contract with ANU Press in conjunction with former SSGM scholar, Sarah Logan. This publication outlines the social and economic impact of mobile phones in PNG since deregulation of the market in 2007. It situates these developments in the broader history of telecommunications and social change in PNG, drawing on Joseph’s extensive expertise in this area. Joseph and Sarah have also secured a contract to produce a chapter on the history of internet use and infrastructure in PNG for the Routledge Internet Histories Companion in 2016. Whilst at ANU Joseph also conducted an interview with Radio National concerning his research.

Romitesh Kant

2–27 June, 2014

Romitesh Kant is a Masters Student and teaching assistant in the School of Government, Development and International Affairs (SGDIA) at the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Fiji. Prior to joining USP, Romitesh was employed as a Civic/Electoral Education Associate with the UNDP-Fiji National Initiative on Civic Education Project for three years. He also has experience working with the Citizen’s Constitutional Forum in various capacities on projects related to human rights, civic education, and democracy for over 5 years. Romitesh returned to ANU as a Pacific visitor from June 2014, having won an award for the best paper at the 2014 Pacific Research Colloquium. During his time in Canberra, Romitesh received mentoring and feedback on his current research project, principally from Stewart Firth, but also from other SSGM staff. He also presented at the 2014 State of the Pacific Conference in a panel on the 2014 Fiji elections, and contributed to a short interview with his fellow panellists on the prospects for the 2014 elections in Fiji. As part of his Visiting Fellowship, Romitesh was also supported to attend the 2014 Pacific Island Political Studies Association Conference in Tahiti, where he presented a paper entitled A People’s Constitution? A Critical Analysis of Public Participation in the 2012-2013 Constitution-Making Process in Fiji.

George Carter

February/April, 2014

George Carter is an SSGM doctoral student from Samoa. He was awarded an SSGM Pacific Islands Scholarship after completing a double Masters in the ANU School of International, Political and Strategic Studies. Prior to coming to the ANU for postgraduate studies, George was the Political Advisor for the US Embassy in Apia, Samoa for five years. George took up his Visiting Fellowship with SSGM as a research internship after receiving a prestigious Australia Award under the Prime Minister’s Pacific Program. During his time with SSGM, George worked on a paper he presented at the Australian Association for Pacific Studies conference in April 2014. He worked closely with a number of academic mentors, namely Stewart Firth, Nicole Haley, and Roannie Ng Shiu. They specifically advised George on ways to develop his research and provided him with valuable training on how to present research for both academic and policy audiences. He was given further advice on how to turn academic research into policy relevant outputs. George has since commenced his doctoral studies with SSGM. His research project examines Pacific negotiation blocs in regional and global climate change forums.

Stephen Gari & Almah Tararia

At the time of their visit, Stephen Gari and Almah Tararia were in-country team leaders on the Women’s Leadership and Decision Making in the Pacific research project, led by Dr Nicole Haley. Their three week visit to ANU in June 2013 was in preparation for field research to be conducted at various sites in Papua New Guinea. During their visit, they finalised their research methodology, identified field sites, designed and developed survey instruments, and completed other project administration matters. Stephen also participated and presented at the 2012 PNG general elections writer’s workshop conducted by SSGM on 11 - 12 June, 2013.

Carol Pitisopa

In August 2012, Carol Pitisopa came to the ANU for a period of six weeks under the Pacific Visitors program. Carol had previously undertaken fieldwork as a community liaison officer with the Justice for the Poor Program in Solomon Islands. During her visit to ANU, she analysed and wrote up fieldwork findings for a major Justice for the Poor report. She also presented these findings in the SSGM seminar series in August 2012. In 2013 Carol returned to the ANU and enrolled in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific’s Masters of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development.

Houlton Fa’asau

Houlton was a Pacific Visitor in August and September of 2012. During this time, he presented a paper at the Innovation, Development, Creativity and Access to Knowledge in Pacific Island Countries Conference (24-25 September 2012) entitled: “Safeguarding Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions – Samoa”. He also worked closely with Dr Miranda Forsyth and Dr Sinclair Dinnen on a discussion paper he was preparing for the Samoa Law Reform Commission on Traditional Knowledge. Houlton is based in the Law Reform Commission, Government of Samoa.

Sharryl Ivahupa

Sharryl Ivahupa was a Visitor supervised by Dr Mike Bourke and Dr Nicole Haley, in 2011. She was formerly an agronomist at the PNG National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI) and later Program Director with Conservation Melanesia. Ms Ivahupa was the Project Manager for the ‘Farmer Evaluation and Multiplication of Sweet Potato Varieties in the North Coast of Papua New Guinea’ Project conducted by World Vision Australia and World Vision PNG and funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR Project ID SMCN/2003/010). During her time at ANU, Sharryl presented a seminar based on the ACIAR project in the SSGM Seminar Series.

Conference Support

In recognition of the importance of assessing research and analysis in an academic and professional setting, SSGM provides researchers from the Pacific with travel and accommodation funds to facilitate their attendance and contribution to major regional and international conferences and forums.

These awards recognise the limited funding available to researchers in the Pacific. Recipients are required to produce a research output in the SSGM publication series, such as a Discussion Paper or In-Brief, on completion of attendance at their scheduled event.

In the past, SSGM has funded researchers to attend major events such as the Pacific Islands Political Science Association conference, the Australian Association for Pacific Studies conference and the European Society for Oceania conference.

Updated:  23 March 2016/Responsible Officer:  Su-Ann Tan/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team