Papua New Guinea
Made up of 600 islands, PNG is a part of a great arc of mountains stretching southwards from Asia, through Indonesia and into the South Pacific. With over 800 different cultural and language groups, it is one of the most culturally diverse countries on earth.
Papua New Guinea
PNG's socio-economic position has been ranked lower than all other Pacific countries (as measured by the Human Development Index). Although there has been economic growth in the last decade, the growth has been unequal. In many communities in PNG, the lack of natural resources, lack of potential for economic growth and development of industry mean there is limited opportunity for formal employment. There is intensified pressure on agricultural land and local resources, which has implications for people and communities who have traditionally relied on subsistence farming as a means sustaining their livelihoods.
The education system in PNG faces a number of challenges. Only an estimated 62.9% of the adult population are literate, and school enrolment rates are below average for all low income states. There is a large difference in school attendance rates for males and females in secondary and tertiary education.
Meeting the demand for teachers can also be problematic, as many teachers refuse to accept positions in schools in remote or isolated areas. Additionally, as PNG continues to undergo reforms in the education sector, local teachers are required to undertake full-time training to upgrade their qualifications. This can result in disrupting the workforce in educational institutions.
Many health indicators in PNG have deteriorated in recent years, with a major shortage in trained medical personnel. This situation is compounded by the population being spread across numerous islands and a vast geographical area, making it very challenging to provide cost-effective health services to isolated areas and outer islands.
Maternal mortality remains high, with 220 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. HIV/AIDS has increasingly become a major health issue in PNG, with an adult prevalence of 0.6%. HIV/AIDS has been identified as a major threat to the development of the nation, with PNG becoming the fourth country in the Asia-Pacific region, and the first Pacific country, to have a generalised HIV epidemic.
PNG has suffered serious environmental problems since the beginning of its economic development, and is now facing further problems due to the effects of climate change. Some of the most pressing issues include coastal flooding, inland flooding and landslides, deforestation, species extinction, land degradation, and pollution.
Statistics sourced from the United Nations Develop Programme (UNDP) Human Development Reports.
Australian volunteers have worked in PNG since 1964, predominately in the health and education sectors as nurses and teachers. While the ongoing needs in health and education remain an important focus for PNG, the number of volunteer placements relating to governance and community development has increased.
The program continues to respond to the needs of government and non-government sectors, with numerous assignments focused on strengthening civil society.
Main focus areas
Improving health outcomes
Through partnerships with general hospitals across PNG, volunteer assignments support the strengthening of key health facilities, assist with strengthening clinical training programs, and support newly formed Family Support Centres. Assignments will also focus on improving maternal and child health and enhancing the capacity of local groups to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in PNG.
Improving educational outcomes
Through partnerships with trade schools, secondary schools and universities, Australian volunteers build capacity of teachers and staff through mentoring and training. Volunteer assignments also aim to develop curriculum in order to improve the quality of education in rural and remote vocational, technical and secondary institutions.
Supporting gender and women’s empowerment
Volunteer assignments support organisations and programs addressing gender based violence, family empowerment and increasing youth engagement.
Strengthening sports for development
Australian volunteers help build capacity of local organisations to develop and implement programs that address health, education, youth engagement and family sexual violence.