The Australian High Commission welcomed two groups of University of Canberra students undertaking a short mobility course as a part of the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan initiative. The New Colombo Plan financially supports students to undertake study and work-based experiences across the Indo-Pacific region, transforming Australia’s relationship at both the individual and institutional level.

The University of Canberra students come from a variety of academic backgrounds – each bringing different perspectives and experiences to learning about public health. Their stay has involved hands-on experience with assisting patients at the hospital, community outreach, and engaging schools in developing preventative health strategies.

Students from a previous New Colombo Plan visit produced a cancer-specific nutrition booklet, ‘Healthy Eating for Living with Cancer,’ which has been widely distributed to patients, providing healthy and nutritional options using locally grown foods. Building from this, current students have actively participated in the creation of further booklets and bilingual educational resources in partnership with the National Kidney Foundation and Samoa Cancer Society. These are specifically designed to condense complicated health advice into a clear format, and complement a broader program of updating previously donated exercise equipment and refreshing past trainings with staff.

High Commissioner H.E. Ms Sara Moriarty provided the groups with an overview of Australia and Samoa’s shared vision for improving primary healthcare through bilateral and regional support, including Australia’s funding support to the Pacific Islands Food Revolution, the Samoa Integrated Mobility Device Project, the Samoa Family Health Association and specialist health advisors.

“Through experiencing various aspects of Samoa’s health system and putting their theoretical knowledge into practice, students have built their own cross-cultural skills, resilience and have been exposed to future career pathways in the Pacific,” stated H.E. Ms Sara Moriarty.

The University of Canberra has sent mobility students to Samoa and Tonga since the inception of the New Colombo Plan five years ago, aiming to take a long term approach to relationship building with partners across the region.

The New Colombo Plan is an important way in which Australia is building long-term people-to-people and institutional connections across the Indo-Pacific region, generating a two-way flow of educational exchange complimenting the Australia Awards program. This initiative ensures that Australia’s undergraduates have the skills and work-based experiences to contribute to our regional economy.