Vanuatu's Council of Chiefs is to receive assistance from an Australian University to take a greater role in the nation's future.
The Director of the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Professor Kevin Clements, says the chiefs want to act as custodians of the people's rights and interests.
He says his centre will work alongside the Council and be directed by what they want.
But he says there are concerns in the region that Australia is telling other nations how they should move forward.
"I think that's one of the challenges that Australia has to face really which is how can it utilise its economic resources and political and military power in the service of Pacific Island countries but in ways that really place the Pacific Islands at the heart of the solution of their own problems rather than have Australia at the heart of other countries problems. I think that is a recipe which is doomed to failure"
The Director Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Professor Kevin Clements,