Address to Papua New Guinea Australia Alumni Association National Capital District Career Fair and Alumni Event
Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea HE Ms Deborah Stokes
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Port Moresby
Address 26 February 2015, 6:00pm
Vice President of the PNG Australia Alumni Association, Ms Guipe Kaupa; PNG Australia Alumni Association Executive, Alumni, returning Australia Awards scholars, business representatives, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
This evening, in partnership with the PNG Australia Alumni Association (PNG Triple A), I am delighted to welcome you all to the 2015 PNG Triple A National Capital District, Career Fair and Alumni event.
I was here last year and the event was very successful. More than one thousand graduates attended. This demonstrates the strong demand by job seekers for information and by business keen to get the best workers.
The PNG Australia Alumni Association (PNG Triple A) is almost 10 years old. Formed in 2006, it gives Papua New Guineans who have studied in Australia, a forum to discuss PNG’s development issues and opportunities – and to share ideas.
It is also an important ongoing forum for networking and provides professional development opportunities for its members.
Tonight we acknowledge National Capital District based alumni and the return of the 88 Australia Awards scholars from 2014 who are now reconnecting with their professional and personal lives back in PNG.
This is an exciting and challenging experience as returning awardees work to pass on their increased knowledge to achieve their goals for organisational and personal development.
The Australian Government supports the Australia Awards PNG Facility and the PNG Triple A to provide a range of services to support awardee reintegration goals, including support for those seeking employment.
This includes PNGAAA’s support to this Career Fair which involves around 20 employer and education providers seeking new and dynamic staff to complement their business development goals.
As representatives of PNG businesses and peak business bodies, we consistently hear from you that the lack of skilled people is a key constraint to doing and growing business in PNG.
The Australian Government is using our Australia Awards and the Australian Pacific Technical College to help fill these human resource gaps in PNG.
Each year, the Australian Government provides around 150 scholarships to Papua New Guineans to undertake tertiary studies in Australia.
We also provide around 500 scholarships for Papua New Guineans to study at health and education institutions across PNG, helping to meet the country’s essential services’ workforce gaps.
Australia is keen to support businesses throughout PNG so we have made a concerted effort to ensure that Papua New Guineans from provincial areas are included in these numbers. In fact in 2014, around 49 per cent of Australia Awards were provided to people living and working in provincial locations.
As High Commissioner, I continue to strongly advocate for both women and men to access education equally and being able to contribute to PNG’s economic and social development. At least 50 per cent of all our Australia Award scholarships are provided to outstanding women.
Currently, Papua New Guinean women are less likely to attend university than men with around two-thirds of all university enrolments filled by men. The consequences of this disadvantage are that young women do not have the same employment and training opportunities as men.
Australia is committed to helping PNG create the conditions that allow women and girls to have opportunities that are at least equal to those of boys and men in PNG.
International experts continually remind us that investing in the education of women and girls has been shown to deliver immense economic and social benefits. It is the single most important activity that any country can support. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.
The other important aspect about an Australia award is the quality of the education it provides. Employers consistently tell us how they value many of the skills that our alumni return with, in addition to their tertiary degrees. They are good communicators, possess confidence, and have excellent analytical and critical thinking abilities, as well as English language skills.
PNG sees the tangible benefits of the Australia Awards, with alumni holding leadership positions in PNG’s public service and working as senior managers, business owners, nurses and teachers.
The Australian Government continues to support education as one of our key pillars of assistance to a PNG economy in transition. As the labour market expands in PNG, continued investment in human capital – a skilled and technically qualified workforce – is important to ensure PNG makes the most of opportunities presented by current, strong economic growth.
To all you business leaders, your collective participation in this Career Fair is symbolic of the value you place in education and its potential to contribute to PNG’s economic growth. This Career Fair has been delivered in partnership with Air Energi Pacifica and is an important initiative for Papua New Guinean graduates.
This Career Fair is one of many opportunities provided to alumni. I encourage all of you out there to become members of the PNGAAA. Connecting to the alumni network is a wonderful opportunity to address the issues close to their hearts, including Papua New Guineas development.
PNG Triple A Alumni, are also able to access professional development training and to apply for small grants to support community development projects.
And the PNG Triple A is not limited to Australian government funded alumni, it is open to any Papua New Guinean who has studied in Australia or is committed to the association’s vision.
That is - to contribute to PNG’s development and strengthen relations between Australia and PNG.
The relationship between our countries is based on a shared history, shared neighbourhood and strong relationships. Alumni are a living symbol of this relationship.
I want to congratulate the PNG Triple A for its organisation of this event, and in identifying this important opportunity to link alumni to employment opportunities – and businesses to our talented alumni.
Links like this one, between alumni and business are critical to PNG’s future and sustained economic growth. We are very pleased to be supporting this Career Fair.