Supporting democratic development
The Australian Parliament supports the ongoing development of parliamentary democracy through a range of programs for parliamentarians and parliamentary staff. This includes study visits, broader parliamentary strengthening projects, and seminars and workshops. Many of these programs are delivered in partnership with international parliamentary associations, such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and other international bodies, such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Parliamentary strengthening programs are coordinated through the Australian Parliament’s International and Community Relations Office.
Pacific Parliamentary Partnerships
A joint initiative of Australia’s federal, state and territory parliaments in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Pacific Parliamentary Partnerships supports the ongoing development of Pacific parliaments. Funded principally by AusAID, the program focuses on professional development of parliamentarians, capacity building of parliamentary secretariats and development of community outreach initiatives.
Six Pacific parliaments currently benefit from the Pacific Parliamentary Partnerships program: Cook Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
The program links in to twinning arrangements between Australian and Pacific parliaments that are members of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The following Australian parliaments currently participate in the program through their twinning links with the six Pacific parliaments: Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. In addition the New South Wales Parliament operates a separate program for the Bougainville House of Representatives and Solomon islands Parliament.
The Australian Parliament coordinates the Pacific Parliamentary Partnerships program through the International and Community Relations Office (ICRO).
Education Trust Fund for Pacific parliaments
Pacific island parliaments are supported with training and equipment provided through an Education Trust Fund administered by
ICRO on behalf of the Australian Region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
Support includes provision of information technology and broadcasting equipment, training in procedural knowledge and technical knowledge such as Hansard and drafting legislation.
Inter-Parliamentary Study Program for senior parliamentary staff
The Australian Parliament’s Inter-Parliamentary Study Program brings together parliamentary staff from around the world to:
- Learn about the procedures and practices of the Australian Parliament
- Share knowledge, ideas and experiences of parliamentary processes and administration
- Reflect on their own parliamentary practices and how they can be developed
- Establish networks for ongoing information sharing among parliamentary staff
The program runs over two weeks, generally in late February-early March each year.
The first week involves a series of presentations by senior Australian parliamentary officers outlining the history, structure, procedures and operations of the Australian Parliament, including the House of Representatives, the Senate and the three
parliamentary departments which administer the parliament.
In the second week Parliament is in session and participants have the opportunity to observe processes in practice. Visits to key sections of the Parliament enable in-depth exploration of procedures and administration. Participants make contact with
specialists that allows for detailed discussions on issues of special interest.
Each program can accommodate up to 16 participants. The program is designed for senior parliamentary officials who have had sufficient experience working for the parliaments in their countries to make the program worthwhile. The information exchanged is often quite technical and suits those with a passion for standing orders!
The program is conducted at Parliament House in Australia’s national capital Canberra. In recent years, participants have also spent a day at the State Parliament of New South Wales in Sydney.
Below: Inter-Parliamentary Study Program participants at Parliament House.