Aid in the Pacific

This project will work with a holistic, context-based accountability framework, the Sociology of Worth, and Pacific research methodologies, to explore government and community perspectives on the effectiveness and value of both aid contributions and seasonal migration programs.

Together, the project will explore the ways in which communities access and use funds obtained through these separate streams to build resilience and adaptive capacities in a context of climate change (e.g. via investments in training/education, infrastructure and livelihoods).

Australia and New Zealand are both positioned as key contributors to climate change resilience in Pacific Island countries (PICs) through their foreign aid programs. However, Australia’s aid contributions have been described as disappointing, and are declining due to questionable efficacy.

Seasonal or temporary migration programs underpinned by development objectives, including Australia’s Seasonal Worker Program and New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme, offer an alternate income stream into PICs. Seasonal workers, who are growing in number each year, contribute significant financial and social remittances. Emerging research has signalled the potential of such programs’ to contribute to climate change resilience strategies.

The accountability of the growing diversity of aid and development is a long-standing challenge and is vital for efficient and just spending and future resource allocation. However, existing systems do not adequately account for the complexity of economic, social and environmental impacts.


The team

Dr Stephanie Perkiss – Faculty of Business and Law, UOW

Dr. Perkiss is an ECR and a Senior Lecturer in Accounting. The proposed project builds on findings from Dr Perkiss’ PhD thesis. Dr. Perkiss has a long-term research focus on climate change resilience strategy planning in the Pacific Islands. Dr Perkiss has experience in case study research and development and use of accountability theory and frameworks.

Dr Natascha Klocker – Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, UOW

Dr Klocker is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography. This project builds on the findings of her earlier ARC DP project (2014), which involved interviewing seasonal workers while in Australia, but did not extend to research in countries of origin. She brings significant expertise in participatory action research and cross-cultural research with bilingual co-researchers and this model will be applied in this project to ensure cultural sensitivity.

Dr Oliva Dun – Faculty of Science, University of Melbourne and honorary research fellow, UOW

Dr Dun is an ECR and a research fellow in human geography. Dr Dun has a background in environmental science, migration studies and international development. She is currently conducting research about migrant involvement in agriculture and ethnically-diverse perspectives on the environment and will soon commence research on an ARC Linkage Project ‘Transformative Human Mobilities in a Changing Climate’ in the Pacific Islands region. Dr Dun has connections within the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Pacific Labour Mobility division.

Associate Professor Yvonne Underhill-Sem – Faculty of Arts, University of Auckland

Dr Underhill-Sem is an Associate Professor in Development Studies and has just completed a study on labour mobility and its development impacts in the Pacific Underhill, Y., & Marsters, E. (2017). Labour Mobility in the Pacific: a systematic literature review of Development Impacts. She brings significant connections in the Pacific and New Zealand, and expertise in questions of gender and development in the Pacific; alongside postcolonial research approaches. She will work in an advisory capacity.

Dr Asenati Liki Chan-Tung - Senior Consultant, Sustineo
Mrs. Tautalaaso (Aso) Taulealo - Research Consultant, Samoa 



This project is working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

Goal 1: No Poverty   Goal 13: Climate action   Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals