Australian High Commissioner Dr Lachlan Strahan visited Yandina in the Russell Islands on 29 September to hand over an Australian-funded solar panel system at Yandina Community High School to supply power to desktop computers for students and teachers, boosting education outcomes and providing clear power.
The solar power system was funded by a SBD100,000 grant under Australia’s Direct Aid Program.
Dr Strahan congratulated Project Coordinator Brian Vaka, Principal of Yandina Community High School on the project’s success. Dr Strahan said, “this project will improve the High School’s access to ICT facilities and enable students to conduct research. It will also enhance the quality of teaching by making it easier for teachers to prepare work plans.”
Dr Strahan reflected on the importance of these community projects in addressing shared challenges, and acknowledged the vital role played by community leaders like Principal Vaka in coordinating and driving these projects.
The Direct Aid Program has been in place for over two decades. In the past three years, DAP has supported 35 projects across all nine provinces. It is a small, flexible grants scheme, which the Australian High Commission administers directly. The Program funds community-led projects to help improve community standards of living.
While in Yandina, Dr Strahan visited Yandina Police Station and spoke to Officer in Charge Inspector Brian Kanai about the difficulties of operating in the provinces, and the importance of community policing.
Dr Strahan also toured the Yandina Area Health Centre Clinic with Head Nurse Agnes Sade, discussing the issues faced by the health sector in the provinces. Australia supports health service delivery in the provinces through the Health Sector Support Program Phase 3. In 2022, Australia provided SBD1.8 million in support to Central Province, including for the Yandina Area Health Centre, Rural Health Centres and Nurse Aid Posts.
Dr Strahan met with church and women leaders from Yandina and joined with members of the Anglican Church of Melanesia’s Mother’s Union in a dance, even though he didn’t know the steps!