Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

111123_Speech_Australian Leadership Awards Scholarships reception

Australian Leadership Awards Scholarships

Congratulatory Speech for the 2012 Australian Leadership Awards Scholarships

23 November 2011

Speech by High Commissioner, Ian Kemish

Good evening and welcome.

I would like to especially welcome;

Mr. James Tanis, former president of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and inaugral recipient of the Australian High Commissioner's Education Award,

Mr. Stan Motolova, Acting Director National Training Council - JCS,

Mr. Peter Aitsi, Country Manager - Newcrest,

Mr. Charlie Gilichibi, President - PNG/Australian Alumni Association,

John Feakes, Deputy High Commissioner,

who have joined our celebration this evening.

Education is now squarely at the forefront of Australia’s development relationship in Papua New Guinea. Scholarships are a significant part of these efforts. In 2011 Australia will award 160 tertiary scholarships to study in Australia. To date some two thousand Papua New Guineans have been recipients of Australia Award Development Scholarships and Australian Leadership Awards Scholarships.

Tonight we’re here to acknowledge a very special group of Papua New Guineans. In particular the ten people who have been awarded Australian Leadership Award Scholarships.

Only 200 places were offered, and you were competing against the best applicants from 100 countries across the world. You should be proud of the fact that you achieved this result. You are clearly on track to be future leaders in PNG. Congratulations.

Of the Leadership recipients here tonight, I would particularly like to acknowledge the two awardees who were also chosen for prestigious Allison Sudradjat awards.

As you may know, Allison Sudradjat worked in PNG for AusAID and afterwards tragically lost her life in a plane crash in Indonesia in 2007. These scholarships honour her memory and her passion for education as a development priority. The two awardees are:

Ms Mary Magabe: Ms Magabe is currently a midwife and the Nurse Unit Manager at Mendi Hospital and will undertake a masters degree in Midwifery in 2012. Ms Magabe is passionate about her profession and is aiming to enhance her own research skills so she can contribute to PNG’s on-going efforts to reduce maternal mortality rates in rural communities.

Dr Arthur Elijah: Dr Elijah is currently a lecturer at UPNG and Obstetrics & Gynaecology Consultant. Dr Elijah is pursuing a masters degree in Public Health enabling him to increase his capacity as both a lecturer and practicing surgeon and to conduct and supervise research at UPNG. The opportunity will expose Dr Elijah to current public health research practice and thinking and provide networking opportunities with senior Australian health experts, enabling him to better contribute towards public health education in PNG.

Well done to you both, I applaud your efforts in these important areas. From your studies and through your work, you will no doubt play a significant role in the future development of PNG’s health system.

Our other leadership award recipients here tonight will be studying in the fields of education, health, the environment and governance.

As we know, an opportunity to study overseas is not just about study, it’s also about the people you meet, the contacts you make and the experience you gain.

And of course it’s about the opportunities you will have to teach others about your culture and life in PNG.

The Australian Leadership Awards are also about exchanging ideas on leadership, and discovering more about the unique challenges of leadership in a development context. It promises to be a rich and rewarding opportunity for you all.

On your return to PNG, AusAID will fund your first year of membership in the PNG Australia Alumni Association. I encourage you to be active members of the Alumni, to participate in its forums, debates and charitable events.

Good luck, make the most of your study experience and also take some time to enjoy your time in Australia.

Let me say a few words more broadly about what the Australian Government is doing more broadly to support higher education in PNG.

Through scholarships and a range of other support, Australia has been a partner in PNG Higher Education for many years. Compared to the scale of the need, it’s fair to say this support, while worthwhile has not been sufficient.

The recently released PNG University System Review undertaken by Professor Ross Garnaut and Sir Rabbie Namaliu maps a way forward for PNG’s University system, aiming to place it on secure financial footings from which to grow.

The Review’s recommendations set out a range of responsibilities for both the PNG and Australian governments to consider. I understand that a joint taskforce has been established to work through the priority and sequencing of these recommendations.

I welcome the partnership approach to a sustained program of reform and support.

The Review notes the importance of lifting quality across all aspects of the university system, and the importance of working with industry and overseas education organisations.

I am pleased to say we are already contributing to this effort through a number of programs. Three of these include:

PKG2 million in grants for UNITECH’s School of Mining Engineering and UPNG’s Division of Earth Sciences. These grants are being provided in partnership with the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum – and I acknowledge the Chief Executive Officer, Mr Greg Andersen.

A Short Course program on Higher Education Leadership which was recently delivered by the University of Queensland. 20 senior officers from all six PNG universities participated, including Vice Chancellors, Pro Vice Chancellors, Bursars and Heads of Departments. Planning is underway for a second course in 2012

And, of course many of our Australia Awards Scholarships go to university lecturers such as Dr Elijah and to Ms Kilala Chee, who recently completed her PhD in linguistics. Ms Chee will return to UPNG next year to teach and to undertake research.

I am pleased to announce that from next year Australia will fund Regional Development Scholarships for study in PNG. These awards will strengthen PNG’s own university capacity and will ensure awardees gain the skills and knowledge relevant to their regions.

In 2012 80 registered nurses will commence midwifery awards at four PNG universities and 20 young people will commence the Community Health Worker’s Diploma at St Gerard’s College in Central province.

In 2013, these awards will be expanded to include scholarship awards for young people to undertake study in nursing and teaching.

As you can see the Australian Government is not standing still on our commitment. We are investing now and in the future in PNG’s Higher Education.

I will conclude by announcing the inaugural awardee under a new scholarship award, the Australian High Commissioner’s Education Award.

This award seeks to enhance the capacity of leaders, or emerging leaders, in Papua New Guinea to drive positive change and facilitate sustainable development. In 2012 and 2013, these scholarships will be awarded to three recipients. I would like to make special mention of the inaugural recipient of the Australian High Commissioner’s Education Award, Mr James Tanis, former President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. James will commence study next year undertaking Masters in International Affairs at the Australian National University.

Congratulations to James and to the all Australian Leadership Award recipients who are with us tonight. My best wishes go with you for your study in Australia.

Thank you.