Australia

Australia partners with Digicel to boost agricultural productivity in Fiji

Traditionally, farmers have relied heavily on inherited farming knowledge and practices to establish and manage their farms. A major challenge for the industry remains timely access to the latest farming advice.

This innovative project hopes to connect farmers to the latest information and advisory services to help boost their productivity. The project will first undertake market research to determine the information needs of farmers across several regions in the country.

Diamonds edge Silver Ferns in final

The Silver Ferns were unable to reverse the result of round-robin play when they lost to the same opponents by two goals, Australia going on to clinch a seventh title since the inception of the Quad Series in 2016.

RNZ reports the Silver Ferns couldn't have asked for a better start but struggled to maintain that impressive early form when ground down by a more consistent and accurate Diamonds.

Shark attack on dolphin in Sydney closes popular beaches

At least two bull sharks were spotted in the Shelly Beach area, in northern Sydney, after the attack and authorities closed all nearby beaches as a precaution.

BBC reports the injured dolphin circled the shallow waters but eventually beached and died.

Manly Open Surf, a carnival taking place at the beach over the weekend, has been suspended.

Lifeguards cleared people from the water after the attack, which happened at around 07:00 local time on Saturday (20:00 GMT on Friday).

Hundreds of people had been about to compete in the festival.

Australia flood crisis: 'Once in a century'

An emergency services minister said it was "the worst flooding Western Australia has had in its history".

The crisis in the Kimberley region started last week after the severe weather system Ellie, a former tropical cyclone, brought heavy rain.

     

Pacific Kava expert to work closely with Australia’s stakeholders to improve its market niche

As the export market grows, kava consultant Tanuvasa Semy Siakimotu has been helping kava growers around the Pacific to meet Australia’s demands, ABC Pacific reports.

He says part of the work is getting Australians to learn about the cultural complexities of kava, while catering to their tastes.

"For us to grow this market we have to find a way to introduce kava to those consumers,"

"We really want to stay away from this terminology of 'muddy water' ... I'm sure no one likes to drink muddy water."

     

Australian PM issues warning after citizen dies fighting in Ukraine

The call comes after Victorian man, Sage O'Donnell, was killed fighting for Ukraine.

Albanese advised against taking up arms: "The way that Australians can give support is to give money, to give support to charities and others who are acting in Ukraine - not to go and participate in fighting there."

Albanese said his government could not confirm how many Australians had travelled to, or were fighting in, Ukraine, as families and authorities were not always notified.

     

Vanuatu’s Vila Centre Hospital receives new machines

The handing over of the donations was made by the ACU in-country program coordinator, Jane Laycock to the VCH Acting Medical Superintendent, Dr Orelly Thyna, the VCH Clinical Nursing Supervisor, Roger Jelpao and the VCH Acting Nursing Services Manager, Jeffrey Samana.

The equipment was donated to support the local healthcare professionals in their daily work.

The ACU program is part of a partnership that was developed 15 years ago, and it is funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs through the New Colombo Plan short-term mobility grants.

Australian Foreign Minister lauds Malapoa Mangrove Restoration Project

Wong said the project demonstrates the power of urgency, of local solutions, of empowerment and of harnessing the understanding of ni Vanuatu and the people of the Pacific about how to manage this risk industry.

She made the comment while visiting the project site with a bipartisan Australian delegation on Tuesday.

"We want to continue to build on our work together, on the ways we can manage and mitigate the effects of climate change."

Vanuatu chief wants Australia to do more for seasonal workers

Chief Willy Grey Plasua said this would ensure the cultural and faith welfare of Vanuatu citizens working in Australia is maintained.

In his speech welcoming Wong on Monday, Chief Plasua said the scheme was a highly profitable opportunity for the young people of Vanuatu.

But he said it also has a negative impact, in particular it increases domestic violence because the workers become vulnerable to immorality.

Chief Plasua blames this on the lack of a custom relationship, because neither their chief nor their pastor is present.

Australia signs security pact with Vanuatu

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong announced the signing during a visit to Vanuatu, Canberra's second such agreement with an important Pacific partner after a similar pact with Fiji in October.

Wong said Australia was proud to be Vanuatu's "security partner of choice".

"We believe security is a shared responsibility," she said in Port Vila, in comments released by her office.

The agreement would cover areas such as defence, policing and disaster relief. The pact signed with Fiji covered greater military mobility.