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Miranda Forsyth (RegNet) and Anthony Regan (State and Society in Melanesia) have been in Vanuatu in April, delivering a one-week training course for staff of the Vanuatu Law Commission (VLC) to develop research skills that support the development of evidence-based policy.
The VLC, which has been operating since 2012, is responsible for a variety of law reform research and development programs. It has produced reports and issues papers on sexual offences, water management, dangerous drugs, and the Ombudsman Act and Leadership Code Act. The aim of the workshop is to identify areas of the VLC’s work in which research is used and the kinds of research involved, and to assist staff members to enhance their existing research skills and to develop new research skills. The workshop provides an introduction to a wide range of social science research methodologies.
The course developed for the VLC builds on the curriculum for SSGM’s flagship research capacity building activity, the Pacific Research Colloquium (PRC), which has been delivered in Canberra annually since 2003. It also builds on curriculum developed for a version of the PRC delivered by SSGM scholars for staff of the Papua New Guinea Constitutional Law Reform Commission (PNG CLRC) in July last year. Following positive feedback on the value of that workshop, and finalisation of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between SSGM and the PNG CLRC that provides for similar collaborations in the future, the VLC invited SSGM to deliver a version of the course tailored to the needs of its staff.
This week SSGM, the ANU School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) and the VLC entered into a five year MOU, the purpose of which is to progress collaborative research through a program of cooperation, training and research in the areas of law, policy and social change in Vanuatu. Specific activities under the MOU are to be developed over its term, but are anticipated to include further in-house tailored training programs for VLC staff in research methodologies, project design and other aspects of research and analysis; mentoring for VLC staff in regard to the design and conduct of research and public consultation processes; co-convened research conferences; and opportunities for staff and student exchanges between the ANU and the VLC for the purposes of education, research, and presentation of work at seminars.