July 12 of this year is a very special day for the people of Kiribati as it marks the 40th anniversary of their independence from the UK in 1979.
Kiribati, with its largely Micronesian population of 115,000, is tiny in terms of land mass but massive in terms of its sea boundaries. AVI commenced sending volunteers to Kiribati in 1982 with a group of secondary teachers working in the Catholic school system and a total of approximately 250 volunteers have served there since. This represents a remarkable contribution to nation building and reminds us of the impact of Australian volunteers posted to countries in the region who achieved independence around that time.
For example, Solomon Islands was just one year old in 1979, PNG was four and Vanuatu achieved only independence in the following year, 1980. Imagine the pride and sense of destiny that must have been palpable with the local colleagues of our volunteers and what a privilege it would have been to volunteer at this time of the birth and evolution of these new Pacific Island’s states.
1979 was also a watershed year in the history of AVI. Former Deputy CEO and AVI’s longest serving staff member, Peter Britton, in his recent book, Working for the World – the evolution of Australian Volunteers International describes in great detail how events in 1979 led to an Australian Government Committee of Review which ultimately recommended increased government support for AVI and the Australian Volunteers Abroad program.
This recommendation also coincided with a new CEO at AVI, a new Committee and an expanded sphere of operations as AVI launched into the 1980’s. The Australian Volunteers Program is proud to continue this long tradition of supporting Australians to volunteer in Kiribati. Search for current volunteer assignments in Kiribati at www.australianvolunteers.com.