Stories written by Neena Bhandari
Neena Bhandari is a Sydney-based foreign correspondent, writing for international news agencies IPS, SciDev.Net and other national and international publications. Neena first began contributing to IPS in 1991 while based in New Delhi and was the main contributor from London between 1998 and 2000. Since the 2000 Sydney Olympics, she has been reporting from Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific Island countries. She started her career with India's leading national daily, The Times of India, in 1985 and she has since worked in the United Kingdom and Australia, reporting on a range of issues from health and science, environment and development, trade and travel, to gender, human rights and indigenous issues. She has a master’s degree in political science and a bachelor’s degree in law, a diploma in environmental law, and a certificate in international humanitarian law from the Red Cross. | Web

Forced Marriage, Organ Trafficking Rife in Asia Pacific – Part 2

A single mother, Mai (name changed) had the responsibility of providing for her young son and grandparents, who had brought her up in a poor rural province in southern Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. While she was looking for employment, somebody approached her on social media with an offer of a high-paying job in China. When she arrived in China, she was sold into a forced marriage.

Modern Slavery in Asia Pacific Fuelled by Widespread Poverty, Migration & Weak Governance – Part 1

Aged 17, Moe Turaga was saddled with the responsibility of providing for his mother and young siblings when a family member approached him with the promise of a job and education in Australia. Dreaming of a bright future for himself and his family, he seized the opportunity and left the protective confines of his home in Fiji, only to find himself trapped in modern slavery on a remote agriculture farm in the state of Victoria.

How Some Pacific Women are Responding to Climate Change and Natural Disasters

Sitting atop a banyan tree branch, Fiona Robyn had a cell phone tightly clasped in her fist raised high to get a signal. She was impatiently waiting for the SMS weather alert from the Women's Wetem Weta (Women’s Weather Watch (WWW)) hub in Port Vila as cyclone TC Harold raged towards the Republic of Vanuatu in the South Pacific Ocean on Apr. 5.

The Future Pacific Island Children Want

For 13-year-old Karen Semens, growing up on Pohnpei -- one of the four main island states in the Federated States of Micronesia, which comprises of more than 600 islands in the western Pacific Ocean -- the main challenge is being a girl. “In our culture, girls don’t have the same rights and opportunities nor do they get credit and recognition for their achievements as boys do. This prevents us from speaking our minds. For example in family meetings, only men make the decisions. I would like all girls to be treated as equals and have a say in decision making,” the 8th grade pupil from the Ohmine Public Elementary school in Pohnpei, tells IPS.


Bushfires Hasten the Death Knell of many Australian Native Animals and Plants

The chatter of cockatoos and lorikeets has given way to an eerie silence in smoke enveloped charred landscapes across south-eastern Australia. The unrelenting bushfires have driven many native animal and plant species to the brink of extinction and made several fauna more vulnerable with vast swathes of their habitat incinerated.

Australia’s Bushfires Bring Mounting Pressure to Reduce Greenhouse Gases

As nature's fury wreaked havoc across Australia, reducing to ashes all that came in its way - people, flora, fauna, picturesque historic towns and villages once popular with local and overseas tourists – it was unlike anything the country had witnessed before. The staggering scale and intensity of the devastation could best be summed up as apocalyptic.

Making a Whale of a Difference to Marine Conservation

The thrill of watching a whale up close or schools of dolphins frolicking in an ocean are much sought after experiences today, boosting the demand for tours that provide people the opportunity to see these marine animals in their natural habitats. But becoming a major tourist drawcard has also exposed cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and their environs to risks and challenges.

How Australia Sustainably Manages the World’s Last Wild Commercial Fishery of Pearl Oysters

Australia’s remote north-western Kimberley coast, where the Great Sandy Desert meets the sapphire waters of the Indian Ocean, is home to the giant Pinctada maxima or silver-lipped pearl oyster shells that produce the finest and highly-prized Australian South Sea Pearls.

A Taste of India in Australia’s Hinterland

Julmat Khan migrated from the seaside resort town of Digha in West Bengal, India, about 14 years ago to the coastal tourist town of Broome in Western Australia. He is amongst a small proportion of international migrants to have settled in a regional town instead of Australia’s popular metropolises of Sydney and Melbourne.

Women’s Health Policies Should Focus on NCDs

Science and medicine were not subjects of dinnertime conversations in the Norton household in Christchurch, New Zealand, but Professor Robyn Norton grew up observing her parents’ commitment to equity and social justice in improving people’s lives. It left an indelible impression on her young mind.

CORRECTION/Who Will Pay the Price for Australia’s Climate Change Policies?

Rowan Foley has spent many years as a ranger and park manager, caring for Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park Aboriginal lands in the spiritual heart of Australia’s Red Centre in the Northern Territory. He has been observing the effects of soaring temperatures and extreme weather events on his people, residing in some of the hottest regions of the country.

Q&A: Papua New Guinea Reckons With Unmet Development Goals

As Papua New Guinea celebrates 40 years of independence, 2015 marks a defining year for the largest Pacific Island nation, set to record 15 percent GDP growth this year.

Aboriginal Businesses Stimulate Positive Change in Australia

Roy Roger Gibson, an indigenous Kuku Yalanji elder, would watch thousands of tourists and vehicles trampling his pristine land while working on the sugarcane fields in Far North Queensland. His people were suffering and their culture was being eroded. The native wildlife was disappearing. He dreamt of turning this around.

Time to Recognise Indigenous Australians in the Constitution

Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders comprise 2.5 per cent (some 548,370) of Australia’s 24-million strong population, but they are not recognised by the Constitution.

Aboriginal Knowledge Could Unlock Climate Solutions

As a child growing up in Far North Queensland, William Clark Enoch would know the crabs were on the bite when certain trees blossomed, but now, at age 51, he is noticing visible changes in his environment such as frequent storms, soil erosion, salinity in fresh water and ocean acidification.

Asia Looks to Innovation to Achieve Sustainability

Innovation in the fields of renewable energy, food production, water conservation, education and health will be crucial for the developing economies of Asia to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Indigenous Communities Say Education, Funding Key to Fighting HIV/AIDS

Marama Pala, hailing from Waikanae on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand, was diagnosed with HIV at 22. The news of her diagnosis spread like wildfire in her tight-knit Maori community.

Women Take the Wheel in Australia’s Trucking Sector

Growing up on a farm in the resource-rich, rugged landscape of Western Australia, Mel Murphy would often dream of driving the mammoth trucks that went whizzing past her property.

Mining Benefits Fail to ‘Trickle Down’

With South-South trade on the rise and growth in emerging economies set to outstrip production in industrialised countries, the international mining sector has been quick to follow global trends.

Sacrificing the Reef for Industrial Development

Mining and port development coupled with decreasing water quality along Australia’s north-eastern coast are threatening the continent’s World Heritage-listed tourist drawcard, the Great Barrier Reef.

The Clock Is Ticking on Koala Conservation

Australia’s iconic marsupial is under threat. Formerly hunted almost to extinction for their woolly coats, koalas are now struggling to survive as habitat destruction caused by droughts and bushfires, land clearing for agriculture and logging, and mining and urban development conspire against this cuddly creature.

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