Research from the Whitlam Institute in Sydney suggests that the quality of Australia’s relationships with the Pacific is more important than the volume of development assistance or trade. The study aimed to understand how people in the Solomon Islands, Fiji, and Vanuatu perceive Australia's policies. The key messages that emerged from the researchers' conversations with Pacific Islanders included the importance of Australia's cultural values for how it engages with Pacific nations and recognition that Australia is just one of a number of potential development partners for the region.
The study suggests that Australia must listen more to the national and international aspirations of Pacific islanders to ensure greater equality in the Australia-Pacific relationship. The researchers recommend that Australia hosts a regional cooperation summit to establish the most important issues for Pacific islanders.