Nauru, again

I’ve just returned from a quick two day visit to Nauru – my fourth in four years. I had a look at the recently renovated facility where the refugees are staying and met with many of them. There has been a different situation each visit I’ve made, and this one was no different in being different.

I also visited a local pre-school, met with Australian government officials and with the people from IOM who are running the centre where the refugees are staying.

Leaving the refugee issue to one side for a moment, the country of Nauru is facing some enormous financial and economic issues, but it seems to me the current government is at least taking a realistic approach to the challenges, rather than pretending they aren’t there. AusAID, the Australian government body responsible for delivering overseas development assistance, is providing support in the areas of infrastructure, health and education. This funding is separate from the money spent to construct and run the asylum seeker facility, which is all funded by the Australian government to the tune of many millions of dollars.

It is impossible to disconnect the fact that Australia is getting the benefit of being able to ‘warehouse’ refugees on Nauru outside the constraints of any legal processes and obligations from the level of development assistance that Australia is providing, but it is still important we provide that assistance.

The pre-school (or Infant School) I visited was a clear example of that. The schools I had been to on previous visits to Nauru had had terrible, and frankly unsafe, conditions. The one I looked at this time had been repaired, painted and generally made safe and clean with AusAID assistance – something which is beyond the finances of the local government. According to the teacher I spoke to at the school, this simple action had led to a big and sustained increase in the number of children attending, as well as greater involvement of parents in the school.

And there’s nothing like a bunch of happy kids bouncing around you to gladden the heart, however temporarily.

I’ll write more about the refugee side of my visit shortly. You can click on the following links to read some of my accounts following my previous visits in July 2003, January 2004 and May 2005.

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3 Comments

  1. Im getting jealous Senator!?Not only are you efficient you are going places others fear to tread.Ever thought about doing a Joh. and getting a plane ,and work on how to operate it cleanly and efficiently,and a boat as well!? ReNew magazine some time back built a efficient catamaran thing for Islanders.My plan for Nauru was Combining hay and or strawbale production in the NT. with filling in the big holes and let the ocean birds find good reason to have a crap occasionally on the straw as it builds up.Now that soil bacterias and enzymes,like those found in yoghurt as bacteria,and,a certain product as enzymes to unlock toilet crud,this could be manufactured on Nauru. And yoghurt. Buckminster Fuller is something those kids must study to ensure they see how to use material effectively.Bill Mollison permaculture approach metallurgy and deals between NT aboriginal groups or Ord River WA. types could bring back production of superph. in a way compatible with farm expectations today.I am somewhat flustered by the problem of offered imagination and the reality of implementation,if wanted.The Nauruans may have a problem in not knowing how to assess advantages in the state of the landscape now,and what if any matters to import on the cheap.Plenty of recyclable materials around and design.Even the humble wire that farmers use ,by bending and compiling towards a a design, can hold containers,of manufactured or island made.There is no difficulty in rebuilding the holes,or using them in some other way now.Spanned roof over them by Bucky Fuller principles,welded on island using the Henrob welder and then they would have a roof to collect further rainwater whilst working under the roof or roofs as a workplace.They could be facing the reality of climate change and making humanity safe cannot be paralysing.Or am I confused?And Telstra will send me a big bill.But not a Pelican!?

  2. This is an interesting read, Andrew. I am continually impressed by AusAID’s work in our region and this seems to be no exception. A pity you cannot spend more than a couple of days there. I’l look forward to your follow up post.

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