The Rau community in Bougainville recently marked a significant milestone with the opening of a permanent and fully furnished community government building. This initiative is a collaborative effort between Australia, the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), and the Government of Papua New Guinea, which aims to construct 19 community buildings across Bougainville. The newly opened Rau community hall is a 225 square meter structure complete with a kitchenette, a storage room, a disability access ramp, 30 chairs and storage racks, ceiling fans, and a 9,000-litre water tank. Other locations for these buildings include Baubake, Lenoke, Siwai, Motuna Huyono, Baba, Arawa, Kongara, Ioro, North Nasioi, Selau Suir, Tonsu, Peit, Tsitalato, Haku, and Halia, with most of these buildings nearing completion and three more in the planning stage.
These community halls serve as crucial spaces for men, women, and youth to engage in regular dialogues, participate in decision-making processes, and host local activities. Additionally, government agencies and private sector companies can also use these venues to share their services with the community members. The ABG Minister for Community Government, Theonila Roka-Matbob (MHR), highlighted in a Ministerial Statement that the community meeting spaces are designed primarily to support community governments and wards, providing functional spaces for elected officials to exercise leadership and administrative duties.
The Australian High Commission Minister Counsellor, Paul Lehmann, expressed his happiness in working alongside the Department of Community Government to support the ongoing capacity building and institutional strengthening work for community governments in Bougainville. He added that Australia prioritizes hiring local Bougainville-based service providers and creating job opportunities for Bougainvilleans. The construction of these community halls and government offices has provided over 100 employment opportunities, income, and skills development for people across Bougainville.