How do people belong in the Pacific? Introduction to this issue (2018)
AuthorsWebb-Gannon, Camellia, Ravulo, Jiojishow all
In early 2016, the two editors of this issue met together to discuss our common research interests. At that time, one of us (Jioji Ravulo) was a Senior Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences and Psychology at Western Sydney University (WSU), and the other of us (Camellia Webb-Gannon) was a Research Fellow in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at the same institution. Camellia, whose research focuses on decolonisation in Melanesia, had recently returned from the 2016 Australian Association for Pacific Studies (AAPS) conference in Cairns at which she had hoped she would meet other researchers of the Pacific from WSU; due to the multi-campus structure of WSU, it is often difficult to know if there are others at the university working in similar research areas, and conferences are a chance to find out. But there were no other WSU attendees at AAPS that year. Back at WSU, Camellia sought out Jioji whom, she knew, had established and managed PATHE, the Pasifika Achievement To Higher Education program, at the University. PATHE had worked with Pacific communities in Western Sydney since 2012, encouraging Pasifika students in over 80 primary and secondary schools to consider pursuing tertiary education, and providing support for Pasifika students at WSU to boost retention and completion. Since the founding of PATHE, there has been a quadrupling of Pacific people enrolled at WSU: in 2014, 400 people identified as being from a Pacific Islands or Maori background; in 2017, the figure changed to 1,600.