By Tim Costello, chief executive of World Vision Australia
For many Australians when they think of the Pacific they think of island paradises, cruises, and white sandy beaches.
The reality, for the people of the Pacific, is starkly different. Some four million people across the Pacific, almost half of the entire population, are living in poverty. And tragically in some countries the numbers of child deaths and malnourishment near those of sub-Saharan Africa.
Even in countries such as Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, which are thought of more for idyllic beaches and world famous diving, poverty, malnutrition and high rates of preventable child deaths are rising.
Now, many countries in the Pacific are approaching a critical crossroads in their development and many continue to face threat to political stability.
Elections in Timor-Leste and looming elections in PNG and Vanuatu, the winding-up of the RAMSI protection force in the Solomon Islands, ...