Its Pacific cyclone season – please sign this petition and help save lifesaving shortwave radio to our islands

Animated satellite images taken from March 13 2015. Photo: US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The ABC’s shortwave radio broadcasts helped many in Vanuatu during Cyclone Pam in 2015.

As you read this, a cyclone is forming east of Vanuatu. As people in Vanuatu are well aware, up-to-date information is critical when preparing for a natural disaster.

Unfortunately, in the middle of the Pacific cyclone season, Australia’s national broadcaster, the ABC, says it will end shortwave radio broadcasts to the Pacific Islands by 31st January.

This decision puts lives at risk in Vanuatu and the rest of the Pacific. The ABC’s shortwave service provide lifesaving information during cyclones and other disasters as well as playing an important role in ensuring media freedom. Here in Vanuatu, during Cyclone Pam in 2015, ABC shortwave broadcasts helped people outside of the range of FM radio and cellular phone towers keep up to date with cyclone warnings. The service undoubtedly helped ni-Vanuatu people prepare and may have even saved lives.

The Pacific Freedom Forum has organised a petition to let decision-makers in Australia know how vital the ABC’s shortwave radio services are for us in the Pacific. Will you please help?

Please click this link to sign the petition.

Thank you.

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Australian ministerial delegation visits Vanuatu — as end of Australian shortwave broadcasts to Pacific is announced

Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, arrived today in Port Vila, leading a bipartisan delegation including International Development and Pacific Minister, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, and their Opposition counterparts, Senator Penny Wong and Senator Claire Moore. Photo: DFAT

Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, arrived today in Port Vila, leading a bipartisan delegation including International Development and Pacific Minister, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, and their Opposition counterparts, Senator Penny Wong and Senator Claire Moore. Photo: DFAT

Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, and the Minister for International Development and the Pacific Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells are visiting Vanuatu today and have been discussing the Australia’s development aid program with Vanuatu officials. An investment package of A$1.5 million (Vt 120.3 million) is also on the agenda and a new aid partnership agreement is to be signed. Management of health supplies and medicines is an important element in this regard. (Radio Vanuatu)

The visit of the Australian Government ministers responsible for the Australia’s relationship with the Pacific coincides with the announcement by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that their Pacific islands shortwave broadcasting service is to cease. Radio Australia which has served the region well over many decades. These broadcasts will terminate in Read the rest of this entry »


Vanuatu daily news digest | 17 December 2012

Both Radio Vanuatu and Daily Post have today given prominence to a new body which will oversee climate change and disaster risk reduction projects and bring civil society into the planning stage. It will have the rather unwieldy name of National Advisory Board on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and will come under the Department of Meteorology and Geohazards. It will be the entry point for all projects dealing with climate change and DRR. Official ceremonies are taking place today to mark the launch of the new Board.

While on the subject of meteorological hazards, solar/wind-up-powered tri-band (SW, MW and FM) radios are being given to 500 Vanuatu villages thanks to the Vois Blong Yumi project and AusAID. This will enable villagers to get cyclone warnings regardless without electricity. Women’s groups and provincial authorities are distributing these Vanuatu flag-coloured radios. With the season’s first cyclone not far away in Fiji, the gift is certainly timely.

However, these radios may be of only limited use, as VBTC management has recently been talking about turning off the Radio Vanuatu shortwave (SW) transmitter, which is the only radio signal capable of reaching all of Vanuatu. Such a move would be madness, given the reliance of remote communities on this vital service, and would increase the risk Vanuatu faces from natural disasters.

Read the rest of this entry »