The Kingdom of Tonga is a Polynesian country situated south of Samoa, southeast of Fiji and north of New Zealand. It is the last remaining constitutional monarchy in the Pacific region; a monarchy that is over 1,000 years old. Tonga is comprised of over 170 islands, many of which are uninhabited. With a population estimated at 108,000 and majority of people living in rural villages, service delivery can be challenging.

MA’s engagement with Tonga began in 2011 with a mobility device feasibility study. Following a project design in November 2016, MA have been working with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders to create a project to strengthen and expand the services provided by the physiotherapy department at Vaiola Hospital in Nuku’alofa.

Currently MA is engaged in the Tonga Rehabilitation and Mobility (TRaM) project, (February 2018 to June 2020) implemented in partnership by MA and the Tongan Ministry of Health (MOH). The project is funded by the MOH, with funds provided through the Australian Government’s Disability Inclusive Development (DID) programme.

Disability related statistics and information:
• The 2018 Tonga National Disability Survey identified that 7.6% of the total population were living with a disability in Tonga.
• It is expected that disability is likely to increase in Tonga with an ageing population and with non-communicable diseases (NCD) now at epidemic levels resulting in high rates of amputations, stroke and impairments.
• Tonga became a signatory to the United Nations Convention of Rights for Persons with Disabilities in 2007.
• In 2014 Tonga launched the ‘Tonga National Policy on Disability Inclusive Development 2014-2018’. This policy takes a whole-of-government approach and involves civil society organisation as partners and implementing agencies.

Tom watches carefully as another man dresses a patient's foot.

Tom in Tonga

1. How did you find out about volunteering with Motivation Australia? Motivation Australia came onto my radar after my previous program director sent me an advertisement regarding a job opportunity for which I applied. I am very grateful for this…
A photo of the outside of the building, with a decorated post in the foreground. It is wrapped with palm fronds and tied with balloons for the opening ceremony.

Opening of the Tonga rehabilitation department

On Friday 14th June 2019, Honourable Dr Saia Maú Piukala, Minister for Health & Public Enterprises and Ms Rhona Mcphee Deputy Australian High Commissioner officially opened the rehabilitation department at Vaiola Hospital. The completion of the renovation of the former…
Conference delegates listening to a presenter off screen. In the fore ground are two women in colourful dresses.

Rehabilitation and Mobility Conference

Celebrating the Conference Theme: ‘Pacific Leaders creating Sustainable Services’, delegates from nine countries in the Pacific region, inclusive of those who use, provide and manage services worked together to share ideas, discuss and learn about how to build inclusive rehabilitation…

Rehabilitation in Tonga

In August, Motivation Australia personnel Lee Brentnall and Ray Mines, along with Siosaia Vakasiuola and John (Sione) Po’uliva’ati(Tonga Ministry of Health physiotherapists) worked together to better understand the current situation for physical rehabilitation in Tonga. This included meeting with nurses,…
A Tongan physiotherapist and rehab assistant is applying a plaster cast to a baby's leg, as part of their club foot services.

Tonga Rehabilitation and Mobility project

Need for services Tonga’s civil society organisations, people with disabilities and disabling health conditions have expressed their need for improved rehabilitation services and appropriate mobility devices (including prosthetic and orthotic devices). The Ministry of Health recognise this demand and have…

Children’s wheelchair clinic: Tonga

Motivation Australia recently worked with the Mango Tree Rehabilitation Centre in Tonga to mentor staff through a seating clinic; providing wheelchairs for children with more complex needs. The focus of the clinic was to further develop the knowledge and skills of a technician, and an Australian volunteer physiotherapist working at the Mango Tree.



The Kingdom of Tonga: Basic Wheelchair Training

Basic level wheelchair training was held in the Kingdom of Tonga in November for participants from Tongatapu and the Outer Island Groups of Ha’apai and Vava’u. The training was made up of a clinical training section – incorporating the WHO Wheelchair Service Training (basic level) course material; and a technical training section, which focused on the skills needed to assemble, adjust, maintain and repair wheelchairs.