11 May 2010

US govt agencies being trained over needs of Pacific communities

9:40 pm on 11 May 2010

The director of a presidential initiative in the United States says they're educating US government agencies about the needs of Pacific Islanders in the country.

When he proclaimed May, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, President Barack Obama highlighted disparities in employment, poverty, health and education experienced by Pacific people.

That follows his re-establishment by executive order late last year, of a White House Initiative and a Presidential Commission to improve the lives of people in those communities.

The initiative's director, Kiran Ahuja, says difficulty accessing information and services is one of the reasons for the disparities, and they're encouraging 23 federal agencies to better engage with Pacific communities.

"They have to put together agency plans that basically review the programs that they have now to see whether they're reaching the Pacific Islander community, and if not how can we better tailor those programs."

Kiran Ahuja says there is also significant Pacific representation on the commission which will report to the president.