Nine Solomon Islanders living with disabilities have been selected for internships with SolTuna, Kokonut Pacific, Fatboys resort, Dreamcast, World Vision and Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM), under a program created by Pasifiki HR with the support of Australia’s Strongim Bisnis program.

The recently launched program, is a pilot for an ongoing Pasifiki HR initiative to reduce the barriers for people living with disability and employers in the private sector looking to have more inclusive organisations.

Strongim Bisnis will support the six employers to provide a three-month paid internship to each of the nine candidates during this pilot with the possibility of a longer-term contract after the initial experience.

Training in social inclusion was also provided to the employers and three of them requested and obtained support to make their workplace more accessible for people with disabilities.

Once the pilot is completed Pasifiki HR will expand their database created in collaboration with People With Disability Solomon Islands (PWDSI) of people living with a disability who are seeking paid internships and jobs, or offering specialized services to companies as freelancers. People with disabilities participating in this initiative will have access to training in job seeking and CV writing.

Organisations will be able to select candidates from this database for placement with the possibility of paid internships, jobs and service contracts.

Speaking on behalf of the successful candidates, Elena Kelly said the nine candidates were looking forward to beginning work and demonstrating their capabilities.

“This is a great opportunity to show our abilities! This gives us confidence to move forward, and we are excited to get this work experience. We won’t just try, we will do our best,” Ms Kelly said.

“Thank you to PWDSI for all your hard work and to the Australian Government who through Strongim Bisnis partnered with us to launch this pilot. Today we are breaking down barriers and we will work together to continue to improve this program,”

“Access to employment is a fundamental human right, “the Australian High Commission Counsellor for Economic Cooperation, Ms Alison Purnell, said.

Ms Purnell reiterated Australia’s commitment to inclusive development in Solomon Islands.

“Australia is proud to support this partnership which we hope is the beginning of the next steps towards a more inclusive private sector and more jobs for people living with a disability,” Ms Purnell said.

CEO of People With Disability Solomon Islands, Caspar Joseph Fa’asala said the pilot program was a good step towards implementing one of the articles of the country’s National Inclusive Development Policy signed in November last year.

“Thank you to our Government for creating the Solomon Islands National Inclusive Development Policy which will be ratified in the coming years and thank you to the Australian Government for partnering with Pasifiki HR to contribute towards the goals outlined in this national policy,” Mr Fa’asala said.

Employers participating in the pilot all welcomed the opportunity to create more inclusive organisations.

“We all have a place in society and [Dreamcast is so happy to have this chance to host an intern as part of this inclusive employment program,” Chairlady of the Dreamcast Board, Samantha Niunara

“Kokonut Pasifik is not just about coconuts, we’re about people and we want to be inclusive to those who don’t have equal opportunities to work,” KPSI Admin Manager, Steward Maneipuri said.

“It didn’t take us long to decide on engaging an intern through this program. This is the beginning of a long journey we look forward to being part of,” ACOM, Mission Secretary Dr Rev Atkin Zaku said.

Speaking on behalf of World Vision, HR Manager, Judith Wateani said, “[World Vision] is excited to have three interns staring work with us next week. Thank you to Pasifiki HR, PWDSI and the Australian Government through Strongim Bisnis for making this possible.”

Strongim Bisnis works across the cocoa, coconut, tourism, financial services, timber, horticulture and waste management sectors, with a strong focus on creating opportunities for women, youth and people with disability.

Press Release, Strongim Bisnis