Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands Acting Special Coordinator, Dr Jonathan Austin, congratulates the people and government of Vanuatu on the occasion of their National Day.

Dr. Austin wished the Vanuatu officers well on their National Day yesterday and thanked them on behalf of the other 14 contributing countries of RAMSI for their valuable work to help rebuild the Solomon Islands.

Dr. Austin said that the experience and cultural background of police members from Vanuatu enhanced the work of RAMSI's Participating Police Force capacity building role.

"We are all under one Pacific umbrella. As a member of the Pacific Islands Forum, Vanuatu is sharing its experience and ideas to help strengthen the Solomon Islands and build a peaceful, well-governed and prosperous country", Dr Austin said.

The head of the current group of Vanuatu police officers serving with the RAMSI Participating Police Force, Terry Tulang, said that Solomon Islands culture and customs are quite similar to Vanuatu.

"At our pre-deployment training in Australia, Solomon Police officers told us about the culture and custom of Solomon Islands, the history. They told us about the importance of respect, how the community works and things like that. For me, coming from Vanuatu, a lot of these things are very similar to home."

With over 27 years policing experience in his home country and as part of the 1998 Bougainville peace monitoring mission, Mr Tulang is committed to helping police establish good working relationship with communities. In Solomon Islands he has been working together with the Solomon Islands police community relations team in all aspects of community policing.

"What we want is Solomon police to go out more to establish good relationships with communities", he says.

"We sit down and talk with the community, about the role of the police, about the law and encourage them to set up crime prevention units. This can help the community deal with problems when they come up", Mr Tulang says.

There are currently five police officers from Vanuatu serving with the mission.

The countries that make up the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands are Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.