To celebrate the ongoing achievements of our Australia Awards graduates, we speak with Mark Willie. Mark who graduated on 5 May 2023 from the University of the South Pacific’s Laucala Campus in Suva, Fiji, with a Bachelor of Arts double major in Pacific Policing/Management and Public Administration.
Pacific Policing as an area of study focuses upon international, regional and local issues affecting social control, including leadership and ethics in policing. Mark is a valued member of the Vanuatu Police Force, who was promoted to Senior Sergeant and second in charge (21C) within the Family Protection Unit of Port Vila’s police station. He is also a male advocate for Violence against Women and Children in Vanuatu and was a part of the team responsible for drafting the Juvenile Justice Bill in 2022. Prior to this he was appointed as Acting Inspector in charge of the fraud unit under the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) in 2021.
Alongside Mark’s studies and professional accolades, he took full advantage of extra-curricular opportunities that allowed him to engage meaningfully with his academic colleagues. Mark was a vibrant member of the University of the South Pacific Student Association (USPSA) Senate from 2019 to 2020 and involved in making important decisions within the Senate. During this same time Mark was elected as President of the Malampa Students Association in 2019, responsible for looking after the needs of over 100 Malampa students studying at USP.
In 2020 Mark was elected as President of the Vanuatu Students Association (VSA), assisting over 500 students from Vanuatu studying at Fiji’s Laucala campus. Mark worked closely alongside His Excellency, Mr. Nikenike Vurobaravo, Vanuatu’s High Commissioner in Fiji, in addressing student affairs. Mark’s work in Fiji with the Vanuatu High Commissioner was particularly important when the Covid-19 global pandemic hit, with Mark and Mr. Nikenike Vurobaravo being responsible for liaising with students and organising their return to Vanuatu. Mark explains ‘leadership throughout the Covid-19 pandemic was quite a challenge but it was an immensely fruitful experience‘.
Mark was commended for his appointment as President of the VSA and member of the USPSA Laucala Senate, with a certificate of appreciation in recognition of his valuable contribution, commitment and performance. Mark received a certificate of appreciation from Mr. Nikenike Vurobaravo for organising a very successful celebration of the 40th Independence Anniversary in Suva, Fiji, on July 30th of 2020.
Mark’s dedication to serving others while pursuing his own academic goals was a challenge, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite his very busy schedule during his period at the University of the South Pacific, Mark encourages others to remain focused on their aspirations regardless of the obstacles that may arise, explaining ‘if you fail, don’t stay down, get up and work harder.‘