I will travel to Tonga from 20 to 23 September. This will be my first visit to Tonga as Minister for International Development and the Pacific. I will meet senior Tongan ministers and officials to further strengthen cooperation between our two countries, which extends across political, economic, defence, policing and education links.
I will sign a new Tonga-Australia Aid Partnership, which will reflect Australia and Tonga’s shared development priorities and provide a clear strategic focus for our aid investments over the next three years. The Partnership will focus on economic reform, health and skills development.
Australia will continue to support innovative sport for development projects, which will help Tonga address the rising incidence of non-communicable diseases. This will include a $75,000 partnership with Netball Australia that will support gender equality through community netball. I will officially open a new netball court constructed in central Nuku’alofa, which will provide a safe space for women and girls to meet, exercise and build community connections through sport.
We will also help make Tonga’s health services more inclusive for people with disabilities. Australian funding will support improved access for people with disabilities to mainstream health services, provide better mental health support and pilot a national approach to community-based rehabilitation.
In 2017, Australia will offer eight Australia Award scholarships to young Tongans for study in Australia and 24 Australia Award Pacific Scholarships to study at the University of the South Pacific and other regional tertiary institutions.