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SI-NSW parliaments launch partnership scholarship initiative

By Gary Hatigeva

THE Parliament of Solomon Islands together with the Parliament of New South Wales (NSW) in Australia, have on Wednesday 18 April, formally established a scholarship initiative that looks to enhance the professional development of staffs within the highest institute in the country.

Known as the ‘Twinning Bilong Iumi Scholarship’, the initiative comes as part of a 10-year partnership, which saw a number of exchange programmes between the two parliaments, including the exchange visitations and learning trips.

Over the course of the 10-year partnership, members and officers of the two parliaments have collaborated on a dozen of initiatives to strengthen the capacity of both institutes.

Yesterday’s occasion was graced by a delegation of members from the NSW Parliament, led by the NSW Legislative Council’s President, John Ajaka MP.

The group according to Mr Ajaka came to the country not only to launch the scholarship initiative, but also establish their parliament’s ongoing commitment to the programme with Solomon’s parliament, and at the same time present their reviewed Annotated Standing Orders to the Speaker, Ajilon Nasiu.

When co-launching the initiative alongside the Solomon Islands National Parliament’s Speaker, the delegation’s head explained that each year, a staff from the National Parliament of Solomon Islands and the Bougainville House of Representatives will be invited to apply to try out the scholarship.

Ajaka stressed that these collaboration in various initiatives continue to help both parliaments strengthen their capacities to do what the people have elected them for.

“Of course, in any genuine friendship, you need to spend together. Getting to know one another and the numerous meetings and visitations provided for in the programme will no doubt help us to understand the political and social context in which you work.

“And the particular challenges you face as legislatures, and hopefully over the next few days, you’ll get to know us better.

“The better we know each other, the better place would be to support our twinning partnership into the future,” the President of the NSW Legislative Council and Head of the Delegation stressed.

Ajaka then explained that in the scholarship, those invited are expected to prepare and present a paper at a relevant professional development event, such as, but not limited to the ANZACATT Professional Development Seminar, the Australian Study of Parliament Group Conference, the Australasian Parliamentary Educators Conference, or tertiary institution in the region.

Applicants according the delegate’s head also added that those invited under the application, will also prepare a report or paper on a suitable research topic, for possible publication in a relevant journal.

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He said the scholarship is open to all staff, but emphasised that female staff are highly encouraged to apply as they will initially be prioritised in order to build on recent gender equality initiatives in both Bougainville and Solomon Islands.

He added that the scholarship will cover the cost of the recipients’ travel and accommodation.

Meanwhile, after the launch of Twinning Bilong Umi Scholarship programme, the NSW delegates held briefings with the Australian High Commissioner and the Minister for Development Planning and Aid Coordination, Hon Jeremiah Manele at his Office.

Four of the NSW members also took time to hold side meetings with selected government ministries as well as leaders of certain local organisation groups and churches.

These include meetings with the Young Women Parliamentary Group (YWPG), the Chairman of Solomon Islands Christian Association (SICA), Women in IT Solomon Islands and ministers of Public Service and of Environment, Disaster Management, Climate Change and Meteorology.

The delegation is however expected to stage another meeting today, with the Ombudsman and Leadership Code Commission, and the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force before heading for a constituency visit in West Guadalcanal.

The constituency visit is hosted by the Member of Parliament for West Guadalcanal, Moses Garu, who is also the Minister of Police, National Security and Correctional Services.

The group will be here in the country until Friday, April 20, 2018.

According to a Parliament Media statement, the group, before departing on Friday, will also be staging meetings with the Leader of Opposition Manasseh Maelanga, the Leader of Independent Group Dr Derek Sikua, and chairpersons of the Parliamentary Standing committees.

They are expected to wrap up their meetings with the National Parliament Management Group to further discuss support from the twinning arrangement.

Also present to witness the launching of the scholarship initiative were chairpersons and members of the different standing committees within the National Parliament.

They included the Member of Parliament for Aoke/Langalanga and Chair of the Bills and Legislative Committee, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee and MP for East Honiara, Douglas Ete, and Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House and MP for West Kwaio, Peter Tom.

Other members included the Member of Parliament for Shortlands, and the Member of Parliament for East Makira, Alfred Giro.

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