About SSGMThe State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program was created in 1996 by the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies (RSPAS) after a competitive search for new research initiatives. Its establishment reflected a growing awareness of the importance to Australia of developments occurring in its nearby region. From its inception SSGM was planned as a dedicated group of scholars with deep knowledge of countries in the region. SSGM scholars are engaged in a program that seeks:
- to advance scholarship on broad issues of governance, development and state-society relations;
- to facilitate dialogue concerning these and related issues both in Australia and the region;
- to assist in bridging the gap between policy and research;
- and to strengthen the network of scholars engaged in interdisciplinary policy-relevant research concerning Melanesia and the wider Pacific.
- Island Melanesia - Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Fiji;
- The culturally-related region to the west including West Papua/Irian Jaya and Timor-Leste;
- The countries of the Pacific Islands region to the north and east.
The disciplinary backgrounds of SSGM staff, students and visiting fellows include development studies, politics, geography, anthropology, history, economics, and law. Many have lived, worked and researched in the Pacific for long periods of time undertaking fieldwork, teaching in universities and research institutes, and working for and advising governments, donor agencies and NGOs. Through such experience, SSGM scholars have deep and sensitive understandings of the factors critical to successful development and governance in Melanesia. Their expertise, so far, has covered decentralisation policy; law and justice policy; restorative justice; constitution-making processes and constitutional design and implementation in post-conflict situations; electoral systems in small states; conflict resolution processes in relation to intra-state conflict; the HIV epidemic; gender-based violence; and state-building. SSGM staff are acknowledged experts on major 'hot-spots' of tension and conflict in Melanesia, such as Bougainville, Southern Highlands, the Solomon Islands and Fiji. In 2011, in response to government requests, SSGM broadened its research capacity to include Timor-Leste. A cohort of staff, students and visiting fellows who have significant experience living, working and researching in Timor-Leste are working on themes of importance to the Australia and Timor-Leste.
SSGM enjoys close working relationships with many of the region's research institutions and makes a valuable contribution to strengthening the research capacity of Pacific Island scholars and institutions. SSGM also enjoys close working relationships with donor agencies, NGOs and government. Since its inception, SSGM has received support from the Australian Government and currently receives substantial funding from AusAID.