The Regional Perspectives study
In 2022 Peacifica was engaged by the University of Adelaide to undertake a new research project that is a spiritual successor to Pacific Perspectives on the World, our research project with the Whitlam Institute. The university's Stretton Institute has engaged Peacifica, together with Development Services Exchange in Solomon Islands, and Linda Kenni, Dr Tess Newton-Cain and their team in Vanuatu to conduct this ambitious new research project.
The research seeks to gain a greater understanding of perspectives from the Pacific Islands region about key issues related to security and stability, and resilience and vulnerability, defined broadly and framed within a local context. It is funded under a collaborative research agreement with the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG).
Initially, the project involves mixed-method longitudinal studies of the attitudes and views of Pacific people in two case study locations: Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. These studies will be underpinned by a deep understanding of local context, including, but not limited to, a consideration of relevant political institutions, social structures, networks, norms, and interests.
The project seeks to acknowledge and reinforce local agency, including the framing of key topics/issues within local experiences and perspectives. It has been co-created by researchers based at the University of Adelaide, research partners in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, and researchers from the DSTG.
The project is guided by a jointly developed Cultural Protocol and Data Collection Plan and Communication Plan. The project's website will be developed and updated as the project progresses.
It is hoped that this project will help the Australian Department of Defence, and more broadly, the Government of Australia, better understand the Pacific Islands region, develop more sustainable and culturally-sensitive engagement strategies, and play its part in creating a safer, fairer, more stable, prosperous and peaceful Pacific.
Researching Pacific islander perspectives on the world
In 2019 Peacifica and the Whitlam Institute undertook a research project that aimed to lay a foundation for deeper long-term dialogue between Australia and the region. We listened to a diverse range of people in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu as they told us what really matters to them on issues including where they see themselves in the world and how they feel about relationships between their countries and other countries, including Australia.
This work contributes to Peacifica’s wider goals to promote peace through dialogue and deepened mutual understanding. It contributes to the Whitlam Institute’s public policy theme Australia in the World,
which is focused on building long-term mutually respectful relationships between Australia and its partners in the region and beyond.
We were proud to work with teams of capable researchers from the region - Linda Kenni in Vanuatu, Citizens Constitutional Forum in Fiji and Development Services Exchange in Solomon Islands, and delighted to have Dr Tess Newton Cain as the lead researcher.
Solomon Islands program
Peacifica is currently developing its first programs with partner organisations in Solomon Islands.
Solomon Islands is enjoying relative stability after the crisis of the 1998-2003 Tensions. Concerted action by Solomon Islands people and supported by the institution building work of RAMSI has meant that the country has the chance for a peaceful and prosperous future.
But the way forward is not secure. There continue to be numerous inequalities and unresolved disagreements that in combination with factors like climate change and economic hardship raise the risk that violent conflict could recur. Gender based violence is a persistent problem.
Solomon Islanders remain committed to peace, and to peacebuilding, but they have told Peacifica that they could use some help. That is what we are working on. It is important that this work is done right, and that takes time.
Concepts currently under development include:
implementation of an inclusive context assessment
research into the effects of local climate changed migration on peace and security
capacity building of local CSOs to build stronger peace awareness into their governance and programs
implementation of a Solomon Islands peacebuilding policy bank.