The Australian High Commissioner, Mr Bryce Hutchesson, visited the Northern Province on 16-18 March 2016 to meet with key government interlocutors and inspect Australian-supported development projects.
In Jaffna, Mr Hutchesson had productive discussions on the political, economic and development situation in the North with Governor Reginald Cooray, Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran, Security Forces Commander, Jaffna, Major-General Mahesh Senanayake, District Secretary Jaffna, N. Vethanayahan and the Bishop of Jaffna, the Right Reverend Justin Gnanapragasam.
During his visit, theHigh Commissioner also opened the Advanced eLearning Unit at the Northern Province Trilingual Learning Centre. The Australian Government supported the establishment of the Unit through The Asia Foundation, as part of a broader package of assistance to the Northern Provincial Council. The Unit will help to break down language barriers, with around 400 students already enrolled to learn Sinhala, Tamil and English free of charge.
Mr Hutchesson met with local officials, families and civil society representatives in Jaffna, Mullaitivu and Mannar, and inspected Australian-funded development projects in ValikamamNorth, Mullaitivu, Vellankulumand Iluppaikadawai. These meetings provided a good opportunity to discuss the challenges facing women and girls in the region.
Since 2009, Australia has provided more than AUD100 million to support the reconstruction of conflict affected communities in the North, including through housing and local infrastructure construction, education, and a wide range of economic and business activities.