The Hon. Julie Bishop, MP, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs led a high-level delegation of Australian Parliamentarians to the remote community of AvuAvu on the Weathercoast of Guadalcanal Province as part of her two-day visit to Solomon Islands.
Minister Bishop and her delegation were given the traditional tatalonga welcome which is reserved for prominent leaders visiting their communities for the first time.
The ceremony included the presentation of bunches of the local betel nut fruit and a traditional shell called somo which is an assurance of peace for the visiting dignitary.
During her visit to AvuAvu, Minister Bishop gifted a new police boat on behalf of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) to the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force working in the local community.
She also opened a new community hub at the AvuAvu police post. The hub – a solar charging station – is a RAMSI pilot initiative, and may be the first of many across Solomon Islands. As part of the new hub, Minister Bishop gifted 50 re-chargeable lanterns and 50 rechargeable torches to the community.
“The police boat will enable the local police to expand their policing efforts and respond to call-outs from other remote villages. The police will be able to engage with more communities, faster and more often, and enhance security across the Weathercoast,” said Minister Bishop.
“The solar charging station will allow members of the community to recharge their mobile phones and other electronic devices, while engaging with their local police. In an area without a consistent power supply, we hope this will bring people together while having a practical impact on the lives of people in Avu Avu and neighbouring villages,” Hon. Julie Bishop said.
She added: “At night, these lanterns and torches will help improve safety in the AvuAvu community to help prevent incidents of violence and sexual assault. I hope that this gift will help protect those most vulnerable in your villages, particularly women and children.”
As a sign of friendship between the people of Australia and Solomon Islands, and to celebrate Christmas, Minister Bishop also gave out books, crayons and sporting equipment to the children of AvuAvu.