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Development assistance in Tonga

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Australia Awards in Tonga

Australia Awards in Tonga


Australia has provided almost 400 scholarships to Tongan students since 1997.

The signing of the Australia–Tonga Partnership for Development in 2009 saw the scholarship program more closely aligned with Tonga's development priorities. Tertiary-level scholarships are focused on addressing Tonga's skills shortage in the fields of education, health, engineering, and economics and public sector management.

Profile: Dr 'Amelia Afuha'amango Tu'ipulotu

Dr 'Amelia Afuha’amango Tu'ipulotu sits at her desk at Vaiola Hospital in Tonga. Photo: Ana Baker / Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dr 'Amelia Afuha'amango Tu'ipulotu is the first Tongan to receive a Nursing PhD. Dr Tu'ipulotu received an Australian Development Scholarship to complete her doctorate through the University of Sydney between 2007-12.

Dr Tu'ipulotu is currently the Matron of the Nursing Department at Vaiola Hospital in Tonga.

Having first worked in Sydney, Dr Tu'ipulotu was inspired to improve the health care provision in Tonga, stating that her 'doctoral work and vision for the future is to build the foundation of nursing…so that the nursing profession can deliver the best possible care for the people of Tonga.'

As part of her role as Matron of the Nursing Department, Dr Tu'ipulotu is involved with building a Tongan nursing research alliance to develop and strengthen the evidence used by the health profession in Tonga. She is optimistic about the future of Tongan nurses and the provision of healthcare in the island nation.

'If we can start something small and slowly build on it, maybe within the next five to ten years, we have something sound that we can be proud of and, of course, in doing so we deliver best care for the people.'

Profile: 'Emeli Pouvalu

Former Australian Development Scholarship recipient, Mrs. 'Emeli Pouvalu. Photo: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Mrs. 'Emeli Pouvalu is the Chief Executive Officer for Tonga's Ministry of Education, Women's Affairs and Culture, in Nuku'alofa, Kingdom of Tonga.

She was awarded an Australian Development Scholarship to complete her Master's in Education Policy and Administration from July 1989 – June 1992 at Monash University, Victoria.

Since her scholarship, Mrs. Pouvalu has contributed to the development of education in the region through her work at the University of the South Pacific and currently in Tonga through her appointment to the Ministry in 2011, where she is leading the Ministry to review and develop curriculum, strengthen leadership in the education sector, promote good governance, work towards increasing the literacy and numeracy outcomes of Tongan students and build human resource capacity.

She has a vision for Tonga over the next five to 10 years. She hopes to build local resources and engage parents and the whole community to create an education sector that is more sustainable and less reliant on development partners.

How to apply

More information, including applicant eligibility criteria can be found at:

Last Updated: 10 November 2014
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