Through its $54 million Pacific Land Program, the Australian aid agency, AusAID, continues to facilitate and support land tenure reforms that favour the commercialisation of land to attract foreign investment. Customary landowners – who constitute the vast majority of peoples in Melanesia – are concerned about the impacts that the transformation of customary lands will have on their cultures, economies, livelihoods and environments. 



  • Joel Simo is the Director of the Land Desk at the Vanuatu Cultural Centre in Port Vila, Vanuatu. Joel has published numerous works on Land in Vanuatu and has extensive experience leading grassroots community education and organising at a national level. He has played a key role in facilitating regional networks and collaborations on land.
  • Steven Sukot is the Campaigns Manager for the Bismarck Ramu Group, a local community development and conservation NGO based in Madang, Papua New Guinea. Protecting Melanesian customary land is a major focus of BRG’s campaigns at present. Steven has been instrumental in facilitating the formation of the Melanesian Indigenous Land Defence Alliance

This speaking tour is organised by AID/WATCH. Speakers will be available for comment throughout the tour. For more information contact: Gary Lee, AID/WATCH, 0416 373 621

Speaking tour dates:

Brisbane16 March, 6:00pm, The Edge, Stanley Place, Cultural Centre, Southbank

CanberraThursday, 18 March 2010, 11:00am, Seminar Room B, Coombs Building, Australian National University (ANU)

Newcastle22 March, 6:00pm, Gallipoli Legion Club, 3 Beaumont Street, Hamilton

Sydney24 March, 6:00pm, Amnesty International Australia, NSW Action Centre, 79 Myrtle Street, Chippendale 

29 March, 12:45pm, Jubilee Room, NSW Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney

Melbourne25 March, 6:30pm, ACF Boardroom, L1, Green Building, 60 Leicester Street, Carlton.