Media Release: 2023 Pacific Australian Emerging Leaders Summit

Young leaders from the Pacific and Australia have come together for connection-building, leadership development and dialogue at the second annual Pacific Australian Emerging Leaders Summit.  

The summit, organised by Micah Australia and the Pacific Conference of Churches, gathers emerging leaders aged 22 to 35 to discuss key development priorities for young people and their communities.  

This time of dialogue has culminated today, in Australia’s Parliament House, with over 50 meetings with Australian MPs, in which the delegates will share their experiences of critical development and foreign policy issues in the Pacific.  

This morning commenced with a welcome event hosted in tandem with Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Senator Penny Wong and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Senator Simon Birmingham. Both of these distinguished guests shared with the group their commitment to continue building partnership in the Pacific region.   

We were honoured to also be joined by Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Pat Conroy, Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Michael McCormack and Josh Wilson, member for Fremantle, alongside the High Commissioner for Aotearoa (NZ) Dame Annette King and High Commissioner for Tonga Mr. Curtis Leonard Tu’ihalangingie. 

Attending the summit will be 36 delegates from 14 Pacific Nations, 12 delegates from diaspora communities in Australia, 9 delegates from First Nations communities in Australia and 15 other Australians. 

Priority topics for discussion include climate change, youth empowerment, and health. These priorities are guided by the key principles of self-determination, inclusion and a ‘Whole of Life Approach’. 

Delegate Joyce Tangi, a Pastor from the Pacific Diaspora community is Western Sydney, said that ‘A Whole of Life Approach’ is critical to all aspects of dialogue at Summit. 

“Spirituality and culture must inform all work in the Pacific, with these interconnected pillars intersecting will all aspects of life.” 

Delegate Akanesi Seinileva, a Climate Change Technical Officer for the government of Tonga, said that spirituality is an important aspect of Pacific culture as it guides how communities respond to the critical issue they face, like climate change. 

“As we face the issues visiting our shores, it is important to weave these aspects together for our Pacific people to not only address climate change and climate injustice, but to also be empowered to take action.” 

Delegate Bianca Manning, a First Nations young leader from Queensland, said the summit provided an important chance for Indigenous Australians to build partnerships with emerging Pacific leaders. 

“As we look to build a resilient, healthy and prosperous Pacific, we must draw on the ancient wisdom of indigenous peoples from across the region. 

 “This includes Australia’s First Nations peoples who must have a seat at the table when engaging with counterparts and building partnerships.” 

Micah National Director Matt Darvas said young people will play a vital role in the relationship between Australia and Pacific nations.  

“With such a high proportion of young people in the region, it is important for countries like Australia to listen deeply to, and build on the strengths of, these young people.  

“We believe that the stories, the creativity, and the civic participation of young people will be crucial in building a safer, and more just and sustainable future for our Pacific family. 

“This is why the Pacific Australian Emerging Leaders Summit (PAELS) exists – to foster relationships between emerging leaders across Australia and the Pacific, and to build partnerships of mutual respect and trust between those leaders and key decision-makers in Australia and the region.” 



For enquiries: Matt – 0416 280 340