History of the UQ Solomon Island

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					        History of the UQ Solomon Islands Partnership (since 1999)

1999-2000
In May 2000 Dr Jim Davie, Senior Lecturer, School of Natural and Rural Systems
Management, Dr Peter Dart, Principal Research Fellow, School of Land and Food
Sciences, and Mr Gregory Young, Education Officer, Solomon Island Rural Development
Trust Board prepared a document called “Research, Education and Training for the
Solomon Islands: Scoping for a University of Queensland Strategic Initiative. At the centre
of this was a collaborative project begun in October 1999 to develop and implement
community development in north New Georgia in the Western province, which involved
UQ and the Queensland Government Department of Natural Resources. The project was
begun at the request of Rev. Ikani Rove, the Spiritual Leader of the Christian Fellowship
Church, to help rehabilitate forested land in order to ensure sustained commercial and
environmental values. The RDTB is a charitable trust established in January 2000 under
the Solomon Islands law and a Unit Trust of the Pacific Development Fund, a non-profit
company established in Brisbane. Meetings were held in Honiara between the Solomon
Islands PM Bart Ulufa`alu and his officials, Dr Jim Davie, Mr Ian Prentice (a Brisbane
barrister with strong links to Solomon Islands) and Mr Grant Doran (chair of
RDTB). Correspondence was subsequently exchanged between PM Ulufa`alu and the UQ
VC Professor John Hay, and between the PM and the Government of Queensland
concerning technical assistance.
        In response, the Premier of Queensland requested a meeting with PM Ulufa`alu in
Brisbane, and a meeting was held between Queensland Minister for Natural Resources
and Environment Mr Rod Welford, Mr Greg Young and Mr Phil Norman, Principal
Scientists with the Department of Natural Resources, and Dr Jim Davie from UQ. The
outcome was a request from Minister Welford for Mr Norman to establish a working party
to determine an agenda for a Queensland Government technical response. In 15 March
2000 VC Hay responded to the PM by writing to the Executive Deans requesting that they
consider their faculty’s participation in a UQ-wide working party to review the scope of
activities that the university might bring to a negotiated relationship with the Solomon
Islands Government. On 10 May the VC met with Dr Martin Sharp, the Australian High
Commissioner to the Solomon Islands, and a week later a further meeting was held
between Mr Gordon Lilo, Gregory Young, Dr Peter Dart, and Mr Robert Ferraris, AusAID
adviser on natural resource management in Solomon Islands. A meeting of the cross-
faculty working group was held on 14 April 2000. Unfortunately, PM Ulufa`alu was remove
by a coup in June 2000, which stalled further negotiations, but these were again taken up
by the new PM Mr Allan Kemakeza.

 2003 MOU
The final result was a MOU signed between PM Kemakeza and VC Hay in April 2003. The
social conflicts during 2003 overtook the full implementation of the MOU between SIG and
UQ. However, Associate Professor Mott visited Honiara in May 2003 as a UQ
representative to discuss implementation. The MOU outlined a formal management
structure relating to research interaction between SIG and UQ and specified a
Collaborative Activities Approval Board (CAAB) to facilitate formal approval of joint
projects. Associate Professor Mott called a meeting of all interested parties at UQ on 19
June 2003, which stressed the dangerous situation due to civil unrest in Honiara,
discussed the MOU and distanced UQ from the RDTB. An email from Associate Professor
Mott, dated 7 November 2003 stated that the Board was chaired by Professor David
Siddle (DVC Research) and had as UQ members Mr Robert Coelen, Director of the
International Education Directorate, Associate Professor John Mott as Strategic
Coordinator Office of the DVC (Research), and the newly-appointed (in September)
Professor Kevin Clements, Director of the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict
Studies. For SIG, the representatives were the Permanent Secretaries to the PM, Minister
for Finance, Minister for National Planning, and Minister for National Reconciliation and
Peace. The main aim of the Board was to ensure that agreed, development research
projects between areas of UQ and the Solomon Island were well integrated and positive in
what was still a state of political flux and disturbance in Solomon Islands. A formal
schedule of the CAAB was to be developed in 2004, but until that time Associate Professor
Mott was to be involved in all planning. Until a formal procedure for developing research
projects in the Solomon Islands was implemented, and research projects between UQ and
the Solomon Islands needed to be approved by Professor Siddle and the International
Educational Directive was to be kept informed.
          Following on Associate Professor Mott’s visit to Honiara, during 2003/2004 a more
structured interaction between UQ and SIG was developed. As part of this, Professor
Clement as Director of ACPACS agreed to have more input into the coordination of UQ
research workers interested in the Solomon Islands; and ACPACS began to develop
increased interaction through a number of Pacific peace and conflict oriented
initiatives. One of the outcomes in early 2004 was the formation of the UQ Solomon
Islands Partnership for Peace and Development (SIPPD), chaired by Professor Clements,
which held its first meeting in February. Another UQ group visited Honiara in November
2004: John Mott and Kevin Clements travelled to Honiara at the same time as Associate
Professor Clive Moore who was there on his own research interests. A meeting was
arranged with PM Kemakeza other SIG officials and a variety of interested parties. The
aim of this visit was to evaluate the political and governmental stability of the region and in
conjunction with the current main government stakeholders, review the most effective
structures for future interaction between UQ and SIG.

2004–2007
The November 2004 UQ delegation met with the PM, the Chief Justice, the Minister for
National Reform and Planning, and the Minister for National Reconciliation and Peace,
and representatives of the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education (SICHE). The
visit was very positive with all levels of government emphasizing their wish to continue a
strong strategic and tactical relationship with UQ. In discussion with the PM, the
complexity of the proposed arrangements in the existing MOU were addressed and the
PM was strongly in agreement with the development of a more streamlined and effective
structure for future interaction under the existing MOU.
        Professor Clements took on the central coordinating role for UQ, under the aegis of
the SBC Executive Dean. In a 21 March 2005 letter Professors Siddle and Trevor Grigg
(DVC International & Development) suggested that all future initiatives have a cross-
Faculty input and that an advisory panel of relevant Executive Deans might be useful in
developing a governance structure; at a minimum there should be close cooperation
between SBS and NRAVS. ACPACS mounted a series of occasional seminars relating to
Solomon Islands, and held occasional meetings of the UQ Solomon Islands Partnership
for Peace and Development. These became more infrequent during 2006 and 2007, and
when SIPPD held no meetings in 2007, Clive Moore suggested that he become joint
convener with Kevin Clements in 2008. The frequency of meetings remained slight, and
when Kevin Clements resigned from UQ in 2008, it was arranged that Professor Moore
and Associate Professor Jennifer Corrin become joint conveners of SIPPD for 2009.

2007 and 2008 MOUs
Normally, SIG would have signed the MOU through the Minister for Education, but
because the initial signing was by PM Kemakeza, further negotiations have continued at
Prime Ministerial level. After Manasseh Sogavare became PM, his Government requested
a re-negotiation of the MOU. Because of friction between SIG and the Australian
Government, PM Sogavare was unable to come to UQ to sign the new document.
Associate professor Moore had discussions with PM Sogavare in Honiara over the MOU.
Eventually it was signed in Honiara on 24 September 2007 and brought to UQ by Mr Sam
Alasia for counter-signature by VC Hay on 26 September. As part of the package,
Professor Grigg authorized the offering of two Masters-level scholarships with tutiton
waivers to be awarded to qualified Solomon Islanders.
        After Dr Derek Sikua became PM in December 2007, he also requested a re-
negotiation of the MOU, primarily to remove all mention of the Institute for Solomon Islands
Studies (a Sogavare Government initiative), and to strengthen the SICHI connection with
UQ. On 20 October 2008 UQ appointed Professor Moore to replace Professor Clements
as the UQ contact point for the MOU. Professor Moore had discussions with PM Sikua in
Honiara in January 2008, and also in Brisbane on 19 June (accompanied by Professor
David Brereton) when the MOU was resigned. PM Sikua had promised to advertise the
two scholarships, and to bond the recipients to work for SIG for the length of the
scholarships, but SIG never did so. On 22 April 2008 Professor Moore followed up on an
earlier discussion with Mr Victor Ngele, Solomon Island High Commission to Australia, and
suggested expediting the issue, by offering the scholarships to Mr Patrick Pikacha for a
MPhil in Science (he had already applied to UQ to complete a PhD) and to Dr Geoffrey
Kenilorea who applied to complete a Masters in Community Medicine. The original
wording of Professor Grigg’s letter of offer stressed that at least one of the scholarship
should be in the area of peace and conflict studies, but this was thought less important
than getting the award of the scholarships moving. Both Mr Pikacha and Dr Kenilorea
began their studies in 2009.
         The MOU, which is valid for five years from 18 June 2008, is aimed at creating
closer and continuing relations between SIG and UQ. The key clauses are 1 (a) to 1 (d):
(a) Promotion and coordination of international academic interests in Solomon Islands
affairs with a priority focus on aiding the restoration and maintenance of peace, harmony
and well-being (eg. Development and resource sustainability and community resilience)
throughout the Solomon Islands.
(b) Promotion and coordination of International partnership and linkages with the view to
increasing and leveraging resources available for sustainable human and natural resource
development throughout the Solomon Islands.
(c) Promotion and coordination of the above international academic interests (a) and the
resources (b) in a way to maximize practical outcomes. It is highly likely that this will be
done through such things as the provision of postgraduate scholarships or fee waivers for
Solomon Islanders to undergo Masters of Doctoral Studies at UQ over the period of this
MOU and support for the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education within the Ministry
of Education and Human Resources.
(d) Support and facilitation by the SIG of the UQ Consortium, CONCORD UQ
(Community Building and Responsible Resource Management) to undertake such
research, consultancy, training and capacity building activities that contribute to conflict
prevention and conflict management, community building and sustainable resource
development in the context of large-scale natural resource projects within Solomon
Islands.

The following procedures for developing cooperative activities are to be adopted:

Both parties agreed to establish trans-institutional contact points for promoting co-
operative research and practice activities between the UQ and SIG. These contact
persons will facilitate communication between the University of Queensland and Solomon
Islands Government through the Ministry of Education and the Solomon Islands College of
Higher Education on proposed research and practical activities and will facilitate the issue
of research approvals to standard SI research procedures. The UQ contact is Professor
Clive Moore. The Solomon Islands contact/s will be the Permanent Secretary for the
Ministry of Education and Human Resources and Secretary to the Prime Minister.

2009
A meeting of all interested parties was held on 20 February 2009 at UQ, chaired by Dr
Corrin and Professor Moore. The group’s name was changed to UQ Solomon Islands
Partnership. A UQ SIP website was to be created, attached to the School of History,
Philosophy, Religion and Classics website. Short biographical data entries were requested
from all members of SIP. A decision was made to work towards holding an Inaugural
Solomon Islands Seminar (probably on 19 July 2009) at UQ, involving as many Brisbane-
based Solomon Islanders as possible. Discussions were to be held with UQ authorities to
ascertain the best direction for future development of SIP to report to another meeting
scheduled for 24 April.

				
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