Friday, 20 January 2012 9:38 AM

Australian Volunteers Seek to Make a Difference

Fourteen new Australian Volunteers arrived in Solomon Islands this month to begin their placements with government ministries, colleges, non-government and community groups.

The volunteers work under AusAID's Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program, in partnership with Australian Volunteers International, Pasifiki and Australian Red Cross. They will use their skills and expertise to build and develop their host organisation in Solomon Islands to help improve the lives of Solomon Islanders.

The new volunteers will take up positions with Save the Children, Solomon Islands College of Higher Education, the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, Don Bosco College, National Archives, Perch Education Authority and Solomon Islands Development Trust.

Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Matt Anderson said that every year more than 50 volunteers work in Solomon Islands.

"The volunteers make a great contribution to local organisations through the transfer of their knowledge and skills, playing a key role in helping fight poverty in Solomon Islands," Mr Anderson said.

"Through their participation in work, sport and community, they also promote links and friendships, immersing themselves in local activities, taking time to learn and appreciate the local culture and way of life."

"The volunteers learn as much from their host organisation as the training and skills they share, largely because of the resourcefulness and ingenuity required by local staff to do their job, so there are mutual benefits for everyone."

Mr Anderson said the AVID program places skilled Australians for up to two years in developing countries throughout the Asia Pacific region. The progtram is additional support given to Solomon Islands on top of Australia's annual SBD$937 million (A$125 million) aid program.

The new volunteers and their Solomon Islands placements are:

Peter Cheers - Carpentry instructor, Don Bosco College
Penny Chilton - English/drama instructor, Don Bosco College
Ralph Kluge - Auto-mechanics instructor, Don Bosco College
Catherine Green - Archivist, National Archives
Penny Goldfinch - Project/training officer, Solomon Islands College of Higher Education Michelle Perkins - HR advisor, Perch Education Authority
Caroline Novak - Community development officer, Solomon Islands Development Trust Joanna Mansfield - Justice adviser, Save the Children
Angela Vass - Speech therapy educator, Solomon Islands College of Higher Education
Jane Sheils - Education training officer, Save the Children (Auki)
Bianca Priest - Marine program support officer, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology


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