Australia - Fiji engagement
Australia and Fiji share a strong and enduring bilateral relationship underpinned by The Fiji-Australia Vuvale Partnership signed in September 2019. It is a broad-ranging and comprehensive partnership supporting deeper political, security, economic and people-to-people links.
On 25 May 2022, in her first week as Foreign Minister, Senator the Hon. Penny Wong travelled to Fiji, demonstrating the importance we place on our relationship with Fiji and on our Pacific engagement.
In line with the Boe Declaration on regional security, we are continuing to grow our defence and security cooperation. Co-deployments between the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) in our region have demonstrated the value of Pacific partners responding to regional crises.
We have worked together on major security infrastructure projects in Fiji, including the redevelopment of Blackrock Peacekeeping, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Camp. Blackrock Camp is a world-class facility enhancing interoperability and Fiji's ability to respond to humanitarian crises in the region.
Under the Pacific Maritime Security Program, Australia handed over the first of two Guardian-class patrol boats to Fiji in March 2020 to support maritime security in the Pacific region. We have supported Fiji to undertake a major upgrade of the RFNS Stanley Brown Wharf, to provide safe and secure berthing for these Guardian-class Patrol Boats. We are now partnering with Fiji on the construction of the Maritime Essential Services Centre (MESC), which, when complete, will enhance Fiji’s maritime security capabilities, and strengthen cooperation in the areas of maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, peacekeeping, and training.
Australia and Fiji have extensive people-to-people links. Over 3,000 Australian companies do business in Fiji and close to 69,000 people born in Fiji live in Australia. Fiji is also one of the top destinations for Australians. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Australians represented the largest cohort of visitor arrivals in Fiji. In the first 6 months since borders reopened to tourists in December 2021, over 110,000 Australians visited Fiji (see Fiji Bureau of Statistics).
There are regular exchanges between Australia and Fiji, including through the Australia Awards, New Colombo Plan, Australian Volunteers Program, and the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme.
Australia and Fiji share a deep love of sports. Through the PacificAus Sports program, we helped Fiji's national netball team, the Fiji Pearls, to compete at the 2019 Netball World Cup and we continue to sponsor the Kaiviti Silktails to play in the NSW Ron Massey Cup. Australia supports the Fijian Drua to compete in the men’s Super Rugby Pacific competition and the Fijiana Drua to compete in the women’s Super W competition. We will also continue to deliver sports for development outcomes through the Team Up program.
Australia is supporting skills development in Fiji through the Australia Pacific Training Coalition, which is enhancing vocational education and training across the Pacific.
Australia is one of Fiji's largest trade and investment partners. A number of initiatives exist to strengthen our economic relationship and support Fiji's economic recovery from the severe impacts of COVID-19.
The Market Development Facility (MDF) began in Fiji in 2011. MDF stimulates business innovation and private sector investment for development outcomes, particularly poverty reduction and women's economic empowerment.
The Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Program (PHAMA Plus) is helping Pacific Island countries address the biosecurity requirements of global agricultural markets, including markets in Australia and New Zealand.
The Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP) is increasing its activities in Fiji to support Fiji’s private and public infrastructure needs.
Australia’s kava pilot recognises the deep cultural significance of kava for Pacific Island communities both in Australia and across the Pacific region.
Australia is Fiji’s largest bilateral development assistance donor. Australia’s development program plays a critical role supporting COVID-19 response and recovery including health, education and skills, gender equality, disability inclusion and private sector recovery programs, as well as disaster relief in the wake of tropical cyclones, and direct budget support to bolster social protection schemes for the most vulnerable Fijians. Acknowledging Fiji’s regional and global leadership on climate change, Australia is supporting the Fiji Government to implement their Climate Change Act which legislates mitigation and adaptation action.
Australia always stands ready to support Fiji to respond to, and recover from, tropical cyclones. Following Tropical Cyclone Yasa in 2020, Australia provided $4.5 million in immediate humanitarian relief and deployed the HMAS Adelaide to help with the relief effort. Working closely with the Government of Fiji, Australia is providing a further $18.5 million to support the education recovery, with a focus on rehabilitating damaged or destroyed school infrastructure for up to nine schools and two hospitals. We continue to work closely with the Fijian government, including the National Disaster Management Office, and local civil society partners to be better prepared for future tropical cyclones.
Australia and Fiji work together in multilateral forums as fellow members of the UN, World Trade Organization, Commonwealth, and Pacific Islands Forum. Fiji is the Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum in 2021-22. Fiji was elected to the UN Human Rights Council for the 2019-21 term, overlapping with Australia's 2018-20 term. Fiji's Presidency of the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change oversaw successful negotiations on the Rulebook and the establishment of the 'Talanoa Dialogue' ministerial-level review of global action on climate change. Australia provided $6 million to support Fiji's Presidency.