PNG Australia Alumni Association raises over K360,000 for Australian bushfire relief

PNG Australia Alumni Association raises over K360,000 for Australian bushfire relief

The Papua New Guinea Australia Alumni Association (PNGAAA) held a breakfast fundraiser on Friday, 24 January 2020 at the Gateway Hotel, Port Moresby, to raise funds to support restoration efforts caused by the recent bushfires in Australia.

Prime Minister Honourable James Marape MP and Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea His Excellency Bruce Davis, both spoke at the event, signifying the close relationship between the two countries and a shared commitment to the PNG-Australia Partnership.

Attended by organisations from the Public and Private Sectors, Civil Society, members of the PNGAAA and individuals demonstrated the sympathy and solidarity felt by Papua New Guineans towards our closest and long-time friend.

Prime Minister Marape in his keynote address expressed that Australia was always the first to respond to any crisis or emergency PNG faced so it is only fair that PNG reaches out to Australia. Prime Minister Marape added that: “it is not the amount that matters but the intent.”

High Commissioner Davis on behalf of the Australian Government acknowledged the support from the Government of PNG through the PNG Hearts for Australia Bushfire Appeal, the deployment of some 100 soldiers to support the bushfire response and generous donations from the business community.

High Commissioner Davis also thanked the many smaller donations and messages of goodwill that continue to come in from all over PNG.

PNGAAA President Dr Janet Rangou said the bushfires had caused a lot of devastation in Australia and PNGAAA stands united with Australia during this crisis.
“This breakfast and the other fundraising activities which PNGAAA is running is a gesture of appreciation to the Government and people of Australia from those of us who have benefited through Australia Awards,” said Dr Rangou.

“With about 5,000 members across the country who have done studies in Australia and in PNG with Australian Government support, PNGAAA feels obliged to give back to our brothers and sisters in Australia during this catastrophe,” added Dr Rangou.

The PNGAAA has raised over K360,000 through a crowdfunding, an appeal drive at Vision City Mall, the breakfast, pledges from organisations, individuals and a generous donation from the Enga Provincial Government. Gateway Hotel generously sponsored the venue for the breakfast.

All donations and funds raised will go to the New South Wales Fire Service and Victorian Bushfire Appeal to help support the continuing bushfire response.

A dentist’s passion for community service

A dentist’s passion for community service

A dentist at the Alotau Provincial Hospital, Dr Hilda Audubo became the first local dentist to partner with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Medical Ships when they made their maiden trip to Papua New Guinea in 2011 visiting some of the most remote villages along the Kikori River in Gulf Province and the Fly River in Western Province.

Dr Audubo from the Huon Gulf District in Morobe Province graduated from James Cook University, Australia in 2015 with a Master of Public Health and Business Administration.

Apart from her day-to-day job, Dr Audubo volunteers with Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) doing community service work including providing basic oral health care to unreached remote populations in Western, Gulf, Central, Milne Bay, Oro and Morobe Provinces.

Her passion for community service has seen her partner with a medical colleague to establish an NGO called Wantok Health Foundation which mostly does health advocacy, health promotion among communities, radio talks and currently operating the only cervical cancer screening program in West New Britain Province with a vision to see the rate of cervical cancer mortality reduced.

Dr Audubo is currently employed with Milne Bay Provincial Health Authority reaching remote communities in Alotau District and the outer Island Districts of Milne Bay Province with her dental team, running oral health checks and awareness through challenging circumstances. Her passion and love for serving her country is what motivates her to keep going.

Dr Hilda Audubo won the 2018 Papua New Guinea Australia Alumni Association Community Service Engagement Award for her contribution to oral health and health more broadly in communities in Papua New Guinea.

PNG-Australia partnership deepens with launch of East Sepik Alumni chapter

PNG-Australia partnership deepens with launch of East Sepik Alumni chapter

The partnership between Papua New Guinea and Australia has achieved another milestone with the launch of the Papua New Guinea Australia Alumni Association’s East Sepik chapter last week.

East Sepik Provincial Administrator Dr Clement Malau and Papua New Guinea Australia Alumni Association (PNGAAA) Vice President Dr Pamela Kamya joined Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, His Excellency Mr Bruce Davis, at the launch in Wewak on 6 November.

The East Sepik Chapter is the tenth PNGAAA chapter to be established joining existing provincial chapters in Manus, Madang, Eastern Highlands, East New Britain, Enga, Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Morobe, Milne Bay and National Capital District.

High-level representatives commended PNGAAA members’ achievements and their contribution to the bilateral relationship.

‘The establishment of the East Sepik chapter is a great example of alumni’s diverse contributions and a celebration of the partnership between Papua New Guinea and Australia,’ Dr Kamya said.

High Commissioner Mr Davis encouraged alumni to maintain links in East Sepik and beyond.

‘The Australian government has been providing scholarships to PNG for over 50 years and it is great to see that it continues to provide professional support to Papua New Guineans who have studied in Australia and in PNG, ensuring the sense of belonging continues beyond graduation, wherever alumni are located,’ Mr Davis said.

PNGAAA was established over 10 years ago to provide ongoing support to Papua New Guineans who have studied in Australia, and as a mechanism for alumni to connect with each other and consolidate efforts to address economic and social development issues in PNG.

Over 11,000 Papua New Guineans have studied in Australia and PNGAAA recently opened their associate membership to also include graduates of Australian government scholarships in PNG, in areas including nursing and midwifery.

President for East Sepik Chapter, Michael Isia, presented the Chapter’s inaugural annual plan to the Australian High Commission, highlighting various community and professional activities.

‘The growing Association includes talented professionals from all walks of life,’ Dr Kamya explained.

‘The new East Sepik provincial chapter provides members with the same benefits as the others including access to professional development opportunities, networking events, and grants earmarked to support alumni share their talent and skills with their professional and wider community.’

PNG Australia Alumni Association celebrates year of achievements and renews focus on sustainable development

PNG Australia Alumni Association celebrates year of achievements and renews focus on sustainable development

The Papua New Guinea Australia Alumni Association (PNGAAA) held its Annual Dinner on Saturday, 2 November 2019 at the Hilton Hotel, Port Moresby, to celebrate the successes of its alumni over the past 12 months and raise funds to support the Association’s efforts to carry out high-impact community-based projects.

Minister for National Planning and Monitoring, the Honourable Sam Basil MP, and Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea His Excellency Bruce Davis, both spoke at the event, signifying a shared commitment to PNG’s sustainable development and the PNG-Australia Partnership.

The dinner was also an opportunity for representatives from the Public Sector, Private Sector and Civil Society, and members of the PNGAAA, to congratulate the 90 awardees who form Intake 2020 of Australia Awards PNG. Awardees will study in Australia under long-term scholarships, developing their knowledge and skills in priority development sectors and their capacities as positive change-makers.

With about 5,000 members, the PNGAAA members are professionals committed to sustainable economic growth and social development.

Minister Basil in his keynote address encouraged PNGAAA and its members to contribute to national policy discussions and the Marape Government’s vision for PNG’s further economic and social development and prosperity.

High Commissioner Davis underlined the importance of Australia Awards and PNGAAA as a vehicle for people-to-people links.

‘It is our most important resource – people – who will remain central to our shared prosperity and the expansion of the PNG-Australia Partnership,’ High Commissioner Davis said.

PNGAAA President Dr Janet Rangou asserted that PNGAAA is the space to provoke thoughts, ideas and actions for development.

She also challenged the awardees of Intake 2020: “For those of you going for studies in Australia, this is the right space for you when you come back. Whilst you are studying in Australia, do not forget that when you come back, there is a space like the PNGAAA for you to contribute to.”

The theme for the annual dinner was Harnessing PNG’s Diverse Human and Natural Resources for Sustainable Development. The annual dinner is one avenue which showcases the value of PNGAAA and how its approximately 5,000 members are collectively contributing to the mission of the Association and to the economic growth and sustainable development of PNG.

The highlight of the event was the auction of two signed PNG LNG Kumuls jerseys, donated by ExxonMobil PNG Limited and PNGRFL, which raised a total of K35,000. A portion of the proceeds, raised from the auction, will go towards purchasing essentials to support the disadvantaged children in the Rainbow suburb in Port Moresby.

Five guests walked away with lucky door prizes courtesy of Air Niugini in partnership with Tawali Resort, Theodist Ltd, Holiday Inn & Suites, Holiday Inn Express and Trends Beauty and Wellness. To cap off the night, guests were given travel kits sponsored by Colgate Palmolive.

PNG Australia Alumni Association supports justice advocate to speak out

PNG Australia Alumni Association supports justice advocate to speak out

The law and justice sector presents many professional demands, not least the requirement for clear communication and persuasive advocacy.

It was with these skills in mind that PNG Department of Justice and Attorney General officer Jill Goroba signed up for PNG Australia Alumni Association’s recent Toastmasters Speechcraft workshop in Mt Hagen – with impressive results.

Jill, a Statistical Data Entry and Evaluation Coordinator, was voted ‘most improved female’ by the workshop’s 26 other participants, who came from a diverse cross-section of professions and 10 PNG provinces. Jill joined PNGAAA after having previously studied a Diploma of Government (Management) with the support of the Australian Government-funded Justice Services and Stability for Development (JSS4D) Program.

The workshop’s overall objective was to empower alumni with the skills necessary to be effective communicators and leaders in their respective fields.

As Jill explains, this objective was clearly accomplished.

‘The workshop enabled me to learn tips and insights on how to calm my nerves, write speeches, add colour to my speech with vocal variety, build confidence, and improve my body posture and gestures when presenting,’ Jill says.

‘I am now challenged to be actively involved in the PNGAAA National Capital District chapter and to contribute to PNGAAA’s growth, development and connections.’

The speechcraft workshop was the latest in a successful collaboration between Australia Awards, PNGAAA and Toastmasters International. There have been five such workshops since 2017, training over 150 alumni.

These activities are part of PNGAAA’s wide-ranging professional development program available to its approximately 5,000 members – Papua New Guineans who have studied in Australia or with Australian Government support in PNG.

Pioneering doctor recognised for medical research excellence

Pioneering doctor recognised for medical research excellence

When it comes to championing health care and making a positive difference in regional Papua New Guinea, Dr Izzard Aglua’s credentials are impressive by any measure.

A medical practitioner and Australia Awards scholarship alumnus from Simbu Province, Dr Aglua works as a Clinical Research Coordinator at the Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial Kundiawa General Hospital.
After graduating with a Master’s of Public Health from James Cook University, Queensland, in 2016, Dr Aglua initiated the set-up of a Clinical Research Centre at the Kundiawa General Hospital with the support of the Hospital board and administration.

The initiative aimed to promote medical research amongst local doctors at the hospital and around Papua New Guinea. This is the first for any public hospital in the country to have a medical research arm.
Dr Aglua’s efforts were recognised recently when he won the PNG Australia Alumni Association’s 2018 Young Leader Award for his contribution to medical research in PNG.

Through the Clinical Research Center, Dr Aglua has also published two papers with international medical journals and has been invited to numerous medical conferences around the world to share research findings with doctors, researchers and health professionals. His published papers were on Stroke and Osteomyelitis (bone infection) in children, which were recognised with a Young Researcher Award at the Asia Pacific Stroke Conference in China (2017) and the World Pediatric Congress in Dubai-UAE (2018) respectively, for research paper quality, novelty and significance.

The Clinical Research Center has fostered research collaboration with Australian partners including academics and researchers from the College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences and the Tropical Health and Medical Research at James Cook University, Doherty Research Institute, Federation University and the University of Sydney.

Dr Aglua is also a two-time winner of the Australia Awards Alumni Grants Scheme through which he presented his research findings in medical conferences in Athens, Greece in 2018 and Amsterdam, the Netherlands in 2019.

He has initiated a drive to promote medical research and publications by local doctors in Papua New Guinea which will contribute to informing and changing the medical practice in the country, region and world. His osteomyelitis study has identified a drug-resistant bacteria causing bone infection in children, as well as a new antibiotic regime to treat bone infection in Papua New Guinean children.

It seems fair to say that Dr Aglua’s recent PNGAAA Young Leader Award – while richly deserved – will not be the last accolade of this impressive pioneer’s career.

Gertrude Tamade Elai: 2018 Alumni Of the Year

Gertrude Tamade Elai: 2018 Alumni Of the Year

Mrs Gertrude Tamade Elai hails from Taemigidu village in Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea. A lawyer by profession, she completed a Master’s in Law at the University of Melbourne in 2015 together with her husband a fellow alumni and is currently working as the Senior Legal Counsel with Barrick (Nuigini)Ltd.

It was Gertrude’s passion both and beyond her profession that proved to be outstanding and worthy of recognition for the Papua New Guinea Australia Alumni Association’s 2018 Alumni of the year award, presented in Port Moresby on 19 July.

Whilst undertaking studies in Melbourne, Gertrude took up a part-time job to assist the Field Methods Class of the Language Department at the University of Melbourne under the guidance of Professor Rachel Nordlinger. From this engagement and with the assistance of the University of Melbourne and the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, they were able to complete a Children’s Book called Songgoleng Kom Kumwa Nei (Frog where are you) in her local language, Taemi.

After returning to PNG, Gertrude presented the Children’s Book written in her language to the people of Taemigidu. She also presented to them the work done with the University of Melbourne which resulted in a Taemi Dictionary containing basic Taemi words. The Taemi digital language dictionary is now stored on the PARADISESEC (The Pacific Regional Archive for Digital Source in Endagered Cultures) website which was also possible with the assistance of Associate Professor Nick Thiebeger at the University of Melbourne.

This method is the first of its kind in working with students abroad to record a language in Papua New Guinea, helping to inspire others in the country to preserve their languages and cultural identities in an online platform that can be accessed by future generations. The online database also enables Taemi speakers to constantly add to the database new and or old words and phrases in Taemi.

Gertrude is also elated that the Project on recording her language has also inspired one of the Field Methods class to write her theses on the study of the Taemi Language. Gertrude thanks the efforts of Catherine Zisserman on her thesis, “Mood and Tense in Taemi” which further documents the language in the academic space.
Gertrude maintains links with Australia through engagement with the University of Melbourne’s Language Department and the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language.

Gertrude says that the “Taemi Project” could not be possible without the keen interest of the 2015 Field Methods class at the University of Melbourne and dedicates the award to all the small feet running around on the white sand of Taemigidu village. Last but not the least, Gertrude thanks the Australia Awards and the PNGAAA for the recognition.

PNGAAA celebrates distinguished alumni

PNGAAA celebrates distinguished alumni

Five outstanding Papua New Guineans were recognised as winners of the 2018 Papua New Guinea Australia Alumni Association (PNGAAA) Alumni Awards at a Reception held in Port Moresby on 19 July 2019. The event was attended by distinguished guests, PNGAAA alumni and representatives from various Australian education institutions.

The winners in the five awards categories include: Alumni of the Year Gertrude Tamade-Elai, Australian High Commission Papua New Guinea Women in Leadership Tina Mark, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Cheryl Mondo-Mulas, Young Leader Dr Izzard Aglua and Community Service Engagement Dr Hilda Audubo.

The Alumni Awards recognise and honour alumni who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, innovation, creativity and made outstanding contributions to their profession, community and Papua New Guinea and who have inspired others through their local, national and international connections and achievements.

PNGAAA President Dr Janet Rangou in congratulating the winners said Australia Awards alumni were integral to the future of Papua New Guinea and it was exciting to see their contributions formally recognised through these awards.

“The nominations attracted alumni members who are of the finest calibre and they should all be proud of their achievements,” added Dr Rangou.

“I congratulate all of the winners and shortlisted nominees and look forward to them continuing their outstanding contribution as PNGAAA Alumni.”

Nominations for the 2019 Alumni Awards will open later this year.

Conference puts creativity and innovation in focus

Conference puts creativity and innovation in focus

Port Moresby—22 July 2019

The Papua New Guinea Australia Alumni Association (PNGAAA) hosted its Alumni Conference on Friday, 19 July, providing 22 alumni a platform to showcase creative and innovative ideas on how they are contributing positively to the nation’s development.

Under the overall theme ‘Creative and Innovative Approaches for the Sustainable development of Papua New Guinea’, 22 alumni presented on their efforts as positive change-makers and leaders in priority sectors including agriculture, health and natural resources. Women’s role in leadership and positive change in rural and regional areas were also in focus.

The conference, which also involved representatives from government, private sector, civil society and development partners, saw two types of presentations: lightning presentation, which is a quick overview of a creative or innovative idea or actual initiative contributing to the sustainable development of PNG and full presentation, on a proposal or actual initiative that contributes to the sustainable development of PNG.

High-level attendees attended the conference which included Australian High Commission Minister Council Mr Andrew Egan and other senior representatives from the Private Sector.

PNGAAA President Janet Rangou – who achieved her PhD in education on an Australia Awards scholarship – said the conference aimed to ensure the rich knowledge and experiences of alumni was promoted and shared.

“The Conference served as a platform to share, inspire, collaborate and even garnish creative ideals for growth in smart, practical and creative projects that are relevant, cost effective and contribute to change in PNG. This is the space to welcome initiatives that are thought out by Papua New Guineans, for PNG and made in PNG for the wellbeing of PNG”, added Rangou.

Keynote speaker at the Conference, Managing Director of Australian Indigenous owned company Gidgee Group, Mr Sean Gordon, spoke about innovative initiatives that he’s been leading with Indigenous communities in Australia and the relevance to community and social development in Papua New Guinea.

Mr Gordon said stakeholder engagement is very important in achieving sustainable long-term solutions. “Everything I do is about relationships, I value my relationships with government and corporate bodies,” explained Mr Gordon.

The Conference was followed by an evening reception for alumni and Australian higher education institutions participating in the 2019 Australia Future Unlimited: Papua New Guinea Education Roadshow. The reception contributes to the enduring connections between Papua New Guinea and Australia generated by Australia Awards.