Rau celebrates new community hall

Community members from Rau, Wakunai District in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, have celebrated the official opening of a permanent and fully furnished community government building.

Australia is partnering with the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and the Government of Papua New Guinea in supporting this initiative that will see the roll-out of 19 community buildings across Bougainville.

The Rau community hall is the first to be completed. It is a 225 square metre building fully equipped 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, Kubu, Selau Suir, Tonsu, Peit, Tsitalato, Haku and Halia. Most of these buildings are nearing completion and three more are in the planning stage.

The community halls provide a space for regular dialogue between men, women and youth to participate in the decision-making processes of their communities. The buildings are also venues for government agencies and private sector companies to share their services with the members of the communities.

In a ministerial statement to the Bougainville House of Representatives, ABG Minister for Community Government, Theonila Roka-Matbob, said: “These community meeting spaces are designed principally to support community governments and wards, providing functional spaces for elected women and men, to exercise leadership and administrative duties together, and for community meetings and local activities”.

At the Rau Community Hall opening, Australian High Commission Minister Counsellor, Paul Lehmann, said Australia is happy to work alongside the Department of Community Government, supporting ongoing capacity building and institutional strengthening work for community governments in Bougainville.

Lehmann added that Australia prioritises contracting local Bougainville-based service providers and creating employment opportunities for Bougainvilleans.

Through the construction works of the community halls and government offices, more than 100 people all around Bougainville gained employment, income and benefited from skills development.