Stepping-up in Fiji
"We commit to work together to strengthen further the bilateral relationship and to contribute our best efforts to making the Pacific a region that is secure strategically, stable economically and sovereign politically."
Joint statement: Prime Ministers' Bainimarama and Morrison
There is a genuine warmth in relations between Australia and Fiji, underpinned by strong people-to-people links and longstanding economic and development ties. These links are grounded in our shared community, historical, sporting, religious and family ties. These are the real strengths of the relationship.
In recognition of our close cooperation Prime Minister Morrison and Prime Minister Bainimarama signed The Fiji-Australia Vuvale Partnership during Prime Minister Bainimarama's visit to Australia in September 2019. It is broad-ranging and comprehensive agreement supporting deeper political, security, economic and people-to-people links.
In line with the Boe Declaration on regional security, we are strengthening our defence and security cooperation, building on our commitment to jointly redevelop the Blackrock Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Camp. Once completed, the Blackrock Camp will be 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.
Australia and Fiji have extensive people-to-people links. Over 3,000 Australian companies do business in Fiji and 61,000 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 and over 367,000 Australians visited Fiji in 2019 (see Fiji Bureau of Statistics).
There are regular two-way exchanges between Australia and Fiji, including through the Australia Awards, New Colombo Plan, Australian Volunteers Program, and the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme.
Under Australia’s PacificAus Sports program, Australia is supporting Fijian teams and athletes to access high level competitions and pursue professional sporting careers, particularly in rugby union, rugby league and netball. Australia is sponsoring the Fijian Drua to compete in the Super Rugby Pacific Competition and the Kaiviti Silktails (a Fiji rugby league team), to play in the NSW Ron Massey Cup. Australia has also supported the Fijiana Rugby 7s women’s team to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Fiji's national netball team, the Fiji Pearls, to compete at the Netball World Cup. On 11 October 2019, Fiji hosted the Prime Minister's XIII Rugby League matches against Australia. This was the first time these matches were played in Fiji. Australia delivers sports for development outcomes in Fiji through the Team Up program.
Australia and Fiji share a deep love of sports. Through the new PacificAus Sports program, we helped Fiji's national netball team, Fiji Pearls', to compete at the 2019 Netball World Cup and sponsored the Kaiviti Silktails to play in the Ron Massey Cup in 2020. 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 committed to supporting Fiji's economic recovery from the severe impacts of COVID-19. We have provided significant fiscal support to the Government of Fiji and are supporting Fiji’s tourism-led economic recovery from the COVID-19 downturn. The Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP) is also stepping up its activities in Fiji to support Fiji’s private and public infrastructure needs.
In June 2021, the AIFFP, alongside ANZ Fiji, signed a FJD106 million ($68 million) loan to Airports Fiji Pte Ltd (AFL) – the main provider of air services in Fiji. The loan will fund essential maintenance and capital works at Nadi International Airport and several outer islands’ airports, refinances existing debt and supports the infrastructure priorities of AFL. The AIFFP is also financing up to $5 million for flood mitigation work for the Nadi Flood Alleviation Project, a top infrastructure priority for the Government of Fiji.
Australia has supported Fiji to prepare for and respond to COVID-19. We have supported Fiji’s very successful national COVID-19 vaccine rollout through the delivery of over 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses as well as consumables and technical advice. The vaccination program allowed Fiji to reopen its international border to tourists in December 2021.
We have also delivered over 97 tonnes of PPE, medical supplies and equipment; support to recruit additional health staff in the Fijian system; and deployed 3 Australian Medical Assistance Teams (AUSMAT) between June and September 2021.
Australia provided fiscal support to the Government of Fiji under its COVID-19 response package and other ODA allocations in 2020-21 totalling $83.5 million. Of this, $20 million was specifically earmarked for support to Fiji’s social protection schemes. In 2021-22, an additional $85 million was provided as general budget support to assist Fiji mitigate the economic impacts of the pandemic.
Tropical Cyclone Yasa passed through the main Fiji Islands on Thursday 17 December 2020 as a category 5 tropical cyclone, making landfall across Fiji’s northern island of Vanua Levu, affecting over 23,000 people and destroying homes and infrastructure. More than 126 schools across the country sustained damage from TC Yasa, affecting 12,400 students and 890 teachers. 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 has committed a further $12.5 million to support the education recovery, with a focus on rehabilitating damaged or destroyed school infrastructure for up to ten schools. Under this package, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is supporting the reconstruction of one damaged school in partnership with the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF).