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Development assistance in Fiji

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Australian Volunteers in Fiji

Overview

Australian volunteers have supported a wide range of Fijian partner organisations to achieve their development goals since Fiji’s independence in 1967. 

In 2019-20 the Australian Volunteers program in Fiji supported 52 volunteer assignments and 25 partner organisations, while strengthening relationships with partner organisations and program stakeholders, and increasing the program’s visibility in the country. The Australian Volunteers program provides an opportunity for Australians to directly help one of their nearest neighbours and to make a positive contribution to development. The two-way exchange of knowledge and experiences can also lead to improved development outcomes.

Volunteering opportunities in Fiji support communities across a range of development priorities, including:

  • Economic growth
  • Health and education
  • Governance
  • Private sector development
  • Gender equality
  • Disability
  • Climate change

Case studies

Job opportunities for students from Fiji's Special Schools in the tourism sector

Growing up, Afrana Khan did not have access to mainstream education. At the age of 16 Afrana enrolled in Lautoka Special School, but thought full-time employment would be out of her reach.

Life changed significantly for Afrana after she was taken on as a trainee in mid-2016 at the Radisson Blu resort on Denarau Island, Fiji.

The change was due in part to a collaboration between the five star Radisson Blu resort and husband and wife Australian Volunteer team, Tony and Kristyn Bashford.

The Brisbane couple volunteered in Fiji's special schools as part of a long-term partnership between the Ministry of Education and the Australian Volunteers program. Over a four-year period 23 Australian volunteers were placed with the Ministry for Education to support the delivery of high-quality education to every Fijian student living with disability. Special education teachers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech pathologists volunteered alongside their counterparts in Fiji to make a tangible difference to how people with disability learned and participated in the community. This was realised through the enhancement of Fiji's special education staff capacity to implement Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for students with disabilities and Individual Transition Plans (ITPs) beyond school.

Individual Education Plans have been introduced for all students across Fiji's 17 Special Schools. The plans support teachers to set customised learning goals for each student during their schooling.

Australian volunteers, Kristyn and Tony Bashford, on assignment in Fiji where they helped to create employment opportunities for students from Fiji's special schools. Credit: Phoebe McColl.

 

Afrana (left) and Shamane (right) in the housekeeping team at Radisson Blu thanks to traineeships established through their Individual Transition Plans. Credit: Darren James.

Australian volunteers Tony and Kristyn carried on this work by creating Individual Transition Plans that helped students nearing the end of their studies to prepare to enter the workforce.

This approach was a life-changing development for students Afrana and Shamane who, after undertaking traineeships as part of their transition plans, gained employment at the Radisson Blu resort. Joining Fiji's workforce for the first time meant both young womengained independence and were able to make valuable financial contributions to their families' incomes.

Julien Racine is the Hotel Manager at Radisson Blu and was a driving force behind the hotel's partnership with Tony, Kristyn and the special schools.

"Radisson is big on responsible business and we aim to do whatever it takes to improve children's education," Julien said. "We know we are making a difference that helps many children who deserve it. We also know that we're supporting the schools where our employees are sending their kids so it is a little bit like looking after our employees too."

Both girls are excelling in their positions as part of the housekeeping team.

"We can see some leadership in Afrana and we hope to grow her further to one day make her a supervisor," Julien said.

After the success of Afrana and Shamane's traineeships and subsequent employment, Julien is hoping to create a certification process for future students undertaking traineeships and is looking to engage other hotels in Fiji.

"They have the best interests of our students at heart. In fact that describes the staff that we have dealt with well," Tony said. "They are people with a heart."

While the collaboration is only young, there are hopes on both sides of the project that it will continue to grow and opportunities for students with special needs in Fiji will increase.

"We want to see it become sustainable in the three pilot schools and a start made to take it out as a package to the rest of the special schools in Fiji," Tony said. "This project has a great future with students, parents, teachers, employers, schools and for disability awareness. It shows that industry can make a profit and still have a heart."

Watch a video about this initiative

How to apply

More information, including applicant eligibility criteria can be found on the Australian Volunteers website.

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