Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

150602 HOM Address Welcome for NCP students

Welcome for New Colombo Plan Students
Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea
HE Ms Deborah Stokes

Australian High Commission Port Moresby
2 June 2015

I am delighted today to welcome the first students to Papua New Guinea under Australia’s New Colombo Plan.

The New Colombo Plan, like the original historic Colombo Plan that started in the 1950s, is focused on building people-to-people links and regional engagement that will last a lifetime.

We are delighted by the positive response of our neighbours in the region to the program, and are pleased to see Papua New Guinea’s participation.

The New Colombo Plan is a flagship of the Australian Government’s engagement with the Indo Pacific.

We want to support greater practical engagement, and we want an Australian community that understands our region better.

What better way to achieve this than by investing in our young people?

The links between people, universities and businesses forged through the New Colombo Plan will support even closer engagement between Australia and the countries of this region into the future.

I would like to thank the Papua New Guinea Government for agreeing to be involved in the New Colombo Plan.

Twelve students from Federation University Australia have been funded through the 2015 round. Seven of them are here today. The other five students will arrive in Papua New Guinea to do their practicums in mid-2016.

The students here today will undertake a four week professional teaching practicum in Oro Province, working alongside local teachers in the Kokoda Elementary School and the Kokoda Skills Training Centre.

I would like to thank PNG’s Department of Education for the assistance they have provided to the group so far in organising their placements. I would also like to thank representatives from Oro Province for hosting our young Australians.

As you would know, the Kokoda area holds great significance for both of our countries. The Kokoda Track is where significant battles were fought by Australians and Papua New Guineans during World War II.

It is a place where a lasting bond of friendship between Australia and Papua New Guinea was formed.

I could not think of a better place in PNG to commence the New Colombo Plan. Your time in Kokoda will build on the existing strong links we have through the Kokoda Initiative and the several thousands of trekkers who walk the Kokoda Track each year.

Under the Kokoda Initiative, the Australian Government is supporting communities of the Kokoda area including school and health facilities.

To the students here today, I would like to welcome you to Papua New Guinea. I hope that you are the first of many young Australians to come to this country through the New Colombo Plan.

As you complete your placements in Oro Province, you will have a unique opportunity to learn about the challenges faced by the community, and you will also make a valuable contribution.

While you work hard at your placements, you should also take time to get to know local people, understand the country better, build friendships and connections.

Be humble, be open, and learn from your hosts. They have much to offer.

Remember you are here not only as representatives of Federation University, but also as ambassadors for Australia. The work that you do and the connections that you form will be an important contribution to the relationship between Australia and PNG.

I hope that your time in PNG will provide you with an experience that will enhance the value of your Australian degree.

This is an opportunity to expand your world-view, build new connections, improve your cross-cultural skills, and gain experience that will enhance your career prospects.

You will return to Australia with new networks, perspectives and insights. Over time, you will be part of generations of young Australians interacting with people in countries across our region.

I wish you well on your exciting journey in PNG over the coming weeks.