Good progress has been made in recent years in the development of Samoa. Whilst its economy has experienced slowed growth, universal primary education is almost achieved; gender disparity in primary and secondary education has been eliminated and child and maternal mortality rates have been reduced. However, challenges remain with nearly 27 per cent of Samoans living below the national poverty line and society facing growing costs from lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
Australia is also working to improve the health of Samoans so that they can live longer, have more productive lives and contribute to the economy. Improving the economic and regulatory environment in Samoa is a critical component to stimulating economic growth and building resilience to future economic shocks.Australian investments are supporting the work of the Samoan government to further develop an effective public sector and well-functioning institutions.
Australian volunteer assignments in Samoa are spread across six key Australian aid country program priority areas: health, education, governance and economic stability, law and justice and community development and social services.
Apia is the capital of Western Samoa and is located on Upolu Island, a stunning tropical location with pristine beaches, lava cliffs and rainforest. Apia has a warm, humid climate throughout the year, with a dry season from May to October and a wet season from November to April. Key holidays include Independence Day in June, the Teulia festival in September and White Sunday in October, which celebrates the children of Samoa.
Evening curfews are commonplace; sa is practiced in some parts of the country, which involves prayer, singing and Bible readings. A gong or conch shell generally signals the beginning of sa, during which time movement around the village is forbidden. Apia has a population of about 40 000. Services such as ATMs, mobile coverage and internet are accessible. Taxis and local buses are available, in addition to health facilities and pharmacies, restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
Iva is a five minute drive from the village of Salelaloga on the island of Savaii. The ferry between the islands of Savaii and Upolu is based at Salelaloga. Savaii is larger than Upolu but is less developed; it is a small and safe island, with simple accommodation and only one main road. The island boasts stunning cliffs, pristine beaches, caves, and blowholes. Other attractions include a turtle reserve, surfing opportunities, and diving spots.