The Australian Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Islands Affairs, the Hon Richard Marles, hosted a special reception at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday night to mark the photo exhibition, RAMSI: A History in Pictures.
Currently on display at Parliament House, the exhibition showcases the history and achievements of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). It captures the places, events and people, that have helped shape the mission over the past decade.
Speaking to more than 150 guests at the event, Mr Marles reflected on the achievements of RAMSI which he said had helped Solomon Islanders turn their country around.
“RAMSI and its Participating Police Force have helped rebuild the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force”, Mr Marles said.
“The capacity for the Solomon Islands government to deliver services has greatly improved. And the social services that were very weak are now flourishing.”
Mr Marles highlighted the improved economic prospects of Solomon Islands, which recorded an almost 11 per cent growth rate last year compared to minus 15 per cent in 2000.
Mr Marles also affirmed Australia’s commitment to Solomon Islands, through RAMSI and Australia’s bilateral development program.
“We remain committed to helping the Solomon Islands government provide security and improve the lives of all Solomon Islanders.”
“And we are committed to building on all that we have achieved together over the past nine years.”
Mr Marles said that RAMSI had helped bring Pacific Island countries closer together marking a new phase of cooperation in the region.
Among those at the event was the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Hon Gordon Darcy Lilo and former RAMSI officers including three former RAMSI Special Coordinators and current Special Coordinator, Nicholas Coppel.