In Defence of Land in Melanesia: AidWatch Speaking Tour

AidWatch| November 2014

In Defence of Land in Melanesia: AidWatch Speaking Tour Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane
AID/WATCH is hosting 3 speakers from PNG and Vanuatu to travel Australia and share their experience of defending customary land.

Throughout Melanesia, community land is being threatened. Foreign land grabs, land privatisation and foreign direct investment are pursued as a means to accelerate economic growth in the region. With an economic growth imperative as central, little space remains to defend alternative pathways to development or resolve the inherent negative impacts of these policies on the environment, culture, livelihoods and communities.

Australia plays a significant role in supporting and financing a development and trade agenda that sees customary land tenure as an impediment to development in both Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.

In Papua New Guinea over 5 million hectares of customary owned land has been taken from local people in an unprecedented land grab. Using Special Agriculture and Business Leases (SABLs), foreign companies have fraudulently obtained rights to an astonishing 12% of Papua New Guinea's total landmass under the guise of development.

In Vanuatu the Australian aid program has funded the Vanuatu Land Program that until last year, focused on titling and leasing land to pave the way for further customary land alienation. On the island of Efate alone, 80% of coastal land has been bought for tourism purposes.

In the face of these threats to land, local people are struggling to retain Melanesian control over Melanesia land. Join us in hearing their stories and learn how you can support their struggle.


Effrey Dademo is a lawyer and the founding program manager of Act Now! PNG, a local grassroots organisation campaigning to protect land, economic independence, and natural resources.

Lester Seri is a Maisin landowner in Collingwood Bay, PNG. He is a Coordinator for Oro Communities Environmental Advocacy Network (OCEAN) Inc., which campaigns against illegal land, logging and oil palm issues and was a Plaintiff in Collingwood Bay communities’ SABL court case

Joel Simo is the Director of the Lands Desk at the Vanuatu Cultural Centre that leads grassroots community education and organising in Vanuatu and has been the driving force of the Melanesian Indigenous Land Defence Alliance (MILDA).



Monday 10th November 6pm - 7:30pm
Multicultural Hub
Purple Room
506 Elizabeth St Melbourne 3000
Nibbles and drinks will be served at this event
RSVP: http://idlm10nov.eventbrite.com.au/

Tuesday 11th November 12:30pm - 2pm
Oxfam Australia 132 Leicester St, Carlton
RSVP: http://idlm11nov.eventbrite.com.au/


Wednesday 12th November 1:30pm - 2:30pm
Macquarie Room, Parliament House 6 Macquarie St, Sydney
RSVP: http://idlm12nov.eventbrite.com.au/

Thursday 13th November 6pm - 7:30pm
Brand X. Level 3, Central. 28 Broadway, Chippendale
(next to Central Station, opposite UTS)
Nibbles and drinks will be served at this event
RSVP: http://idlm13nov.eventbrite.com.au/


Saturday 15th November, Musgrave Park. Cnr Russel and Cordelia, West End, Brisbane - as part of the Global First Nations Conference

Sunday 16th November Greek Club 29 Edmondstone St, South Brisbane time 2 - 3:30pm - as part of the Global First Nations Conference. Drinks and nibbles provided at this event.
RSVP: http://idlm16nov.eventbrite.com.au/

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For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1503374016584856/?notif_t=plan_edited

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