University of Melbourne and the Pacific Climate Change Centre welcome 15 Indo-Pacific leaders for the Advancing Climate, Health, and Equity Outcomes Australia Awards program
The University of Melbourne and the Pacific Climate Change Centre (PCCC) officially launched an innovative Australia Awards Fellowship program on 6th November 2023. Fifteen emerging climate and health leaders from eleven Indo-Pacific countries are participating in an immersive six-week leadership, capacity development, knowledge exchange and networking program, hosted by the University of Melbourne.
Our recently arrived Australia Awards Fellows (L-R): Dr Arthit Phosri (Thailand), Mr Teanibuaka Tabunga (Kiribati), Mr Mackzine Lakjohn (Republic of the Marshall Islands), Dr Lutfan Lazuardi (Indonesia), Dr Im Sophea (Cambodia), Ms Tsatsa Seimarlie (Solomon Islands), Ms Vanessa Uelese Va'ai (Kiribati), Ms Litiana Talake (Tuvalu), Mr Correy Ariote Abraham (Federated States of Miconesia), Mr Ruben Robin (Papua New Guinea), Mr Samisoni Mumui Tupou (Tonga), Ms Loiloi Otuangu Evadne Latu (Tonga), Ms Victoria Ieremia-Faasili (Samoa), Mr Molyka Nov (Cambodia).
Dr Nhung Thi Trang Nguyen, who is also visiting the University of Melbourne as an Australia Award Fellow.
The ‘Advancing Climate, Health, and Equity Outcomes through Local Action in the Indo-Pacific’ program is co-hosted by Melbourne Climate Futures and the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health in partnership with PCCC, and has been funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Australia Awards initiative.
The initiative strives to develop leadership potential and stimulate lasting change by empowering a global network of talented individuals through high-quality education experiences in Australia and overseas. Fellows bring a diversity of lived experience and expertise from their climate and health roles in government and academia across the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
The University was delighted to host Mr. Sefanaia Nawadra, Director General of the South Pacific Regional Environment Centre to officially launch the program, in collaboration with Professor Michael Wesley, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Global, Culture and Engagement; and Mr Shaun Starmer, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security, DFAT.
Beyond completing formal training on a range of climate, health, equity, advocacy, policy and research strategies, delivered by experts from across the University and several external partners, Fellows will co-design and develop a climate and health policy/practice output relevant to their local context with support of a University mentor. In addition to strengthening public speaking and presentation skills, this will facilitate bidirectional knowledge exchange between the cohort and feedback from the group will strengthen each Fellow’s capacity to implement their output upon returning home.
“This programme will establish a supportive, collaborative regional community and equip regional policy makers with practical knowledge to boost the development of healthy and equitable climate policies and programmes in their home countries, improving climate resilience and outcomes across the whole Indo-Pacific region,” said Professor Kathryn Bowen, Deputy Director, Melbourne Climate Futures; and Professor of Climate, Environment and Global Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne.
Cultural learning experiences to understand and engage with Australia’s First Nations history and perspectives, and unique natural environments, are integrated throughout the program. Fellows will also visit the University of Melbourne’s Victoria Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub at the Dookie campus in Week 3 of the program, to learn more about efforts to enhance economic, environmental and social resilience to drought and the interdependencies of sustainable agriculture, food and water security and health.
Attendees at the Australia Awards launch at Melbourne Connect.
The Fellows will join a hybrid follow-up workshop in early 2024, hosted by the PCCC in Samoa, to discuss implementation of their policy/practice output and explore how participants have applied skills developed during the Fellowship to their practice. Mrs Ófa Kaisamy, Manager of PCCC said, “This collaboration builds on existing efforts by PCCC and the University of Melbourne on climate and health capacity-building. It will create a regional community of policy makers and researchers whose knowledge of climate and health will support better outcomes for populations in their respective countries.”
To learn more about the ‘Advancing Climate, Health, and Equity Outcomes through Local Action in the Indo-Pacific’ Australia Awards program and our visiting Fellows, visit the Climate CATCH Lab’s website for updates.