The documentary uncovers the stories of people across the region, from Tonga to Timor-Leste, driving positive change in their communities.

Produced by Small World Stories for the ABC, the documentary offers insights into how innovation and inspiration are found in diverse corners of the Pacific and Timor-Leste. It draws on a previous ABC Australia shortform series Pandemic Warriors which looked at how people in the Pacific and Timor-Leste had turned the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity to improve their communities.

The new release is hosted by the ABC’s Melissa Maykin, an Australian-Fijian journalist and celebrates resilience, creativity and friendship as locals tackle the region’s challenges, often in collaboration with Australians.

Meet the pioneering Papua New Guinean women’s rugby league team and accompany them as they prepare for the World Cup, inspiring women, and girls to participate in their country’s favourite game. Get to know the brave head of Tonga’s public broadcaster Viola Ulakai who, along with her dedicated team, kept life-saving information going out on the airwaves as Tonga faced a devastating triple disaster of volcano, earthquake and tsunami in January 2022. And travel to the remote highlands of Timor-Leste where you’ll find out how a thriving community is successfully trading on the international carbon market. The documentary also includes stories from the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Samoa and Fiji.

According to Melissa Maykin, “Working on this documentary humbled me in many ways and was a beautiful acknowledgment of the unwavering Pacific spirit. The leaders and innovators at the grassroots in the Pacific have always been there, but their work hasn’t always been acknowledged.”

ABC International Head Claire M. Gorman added, “I am sure this exciting new release for ABC Australia will resonate with audiences across the Pacific and Timor-Leste and beyond. It highlights how people across the region draw on their own strength and resilience to lead change in their own communities, with, at times, a little help from their Australian friends.”

Pacific Upside is funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Pacific Upside will premiere on ABC Australia, on Wednesday 1 March at 4:00PM in Timor-Leste, 5:00PM in Papua New Guinea, 6:00PM in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, 7:00PM in Fiji, and 8:00PM in Samoa and Tonga. It will also be available on ABC iview and ABC Australia iview from 1 March.

Media Release – ABC