Solomon Islands

AUSTRALIAN AID PUTS MORE SOLOMON ISLANDS CHILDREN IN SCHOOL

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BOB MCMULLAN MP
PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY
FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR FRASER

Australia is contributing to a Solomon Islands Government initiative to ensure 145,000 children receive fee-free education, the Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance, Bob McMullan, announced during his visit to the Solomon Islands.

Australia will provide $3 million to the initiative, also funded by the New Zealand and Solomon Islands Governments, which will give all Solomons Islands primary and junior secondary school students access to free education.

Mr McMullan met with Prime Minister Sikua and three key Ministers in the Solomon Islands Government in Honiara to talk about the strong relationship between the two countries and the work being done to improve the lives of Solomon Islanders.

'Australia is delighted to be working closely with the Solomon Islands Government to support progress towards Millennium Development Goal 2, which aims to give children everywhere the chance to go to school. In addition to the free education initiative, we have also this year supported infrastructure improvements in Solomon Islands schools,' said Mr McMullan.

Mr McMullan also visited the Poha River in west Guadalcanal, where he was shown the extensive damage caused by recent floods. Australia is providing $300,000 to assist with the costs of repairing several bridges, including the Poha bridge.

Mr McMullan also announced a new contribution of $75,000 to Solomon Islands-based non-government organisations to supply food, water containers and tarpaulins for communities affected in recent weeks by Cyclone Ului. Along with previous support for disaster assessments and immediate food supplies, this announcement brings Australia's total commitment to the Cyclone Ului response to $100,000.

'Australia is providing immediate support to people affected by natural disasters in the Pacific. But we also work on longer term recovery such as re-building access to markets, health care and other social services. This longer term support allows people to resume their normal lives and put the devastation of disasters like this behind them. Australia's support for repairs to important roads and bridges here in west Guadalcanal is an example of how we can help to speed up the recovery process.'

Mr McMullan is in Honiara to represent Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith at a Pacific Islands Forum Ministerial Meeting, which is assessing progress being made by the Forum's Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI). Australia is the largest contributor to RAMSI.