Volunteer changing the lives of people in Papua New Guinea

Volunteer and project manager trainer, Monika Vnuk, is changing the lives of Papua New Guineans through her work with the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program.

Working at the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research over the past nine months, Monika has created and led training courses for Papua New Guinean staff to help them implement projects to combat communicable diseases and improve maternal and child in PNG.

‘I developed and ran a two-day project management training course for staff, assisted with drafting their safety and security management plan, as well as their policies and procedures and procurement processes,’ Miss Vnuk said.

‘Next year, I plan to set up a seminar series to target project managers, including mentoring staff, resourcing projects, evaluations, project reporting and leadership skills.’

While in PNG, Monika spent time in several communities including Madang, Maprik, and the remote town of Goroka where she continued her work in running training courses to help give local Papua New Guineans the skills to set up a broad range of projects including health projects to combat sexually transmissible infections, HIV, and malaria, as well as improve maternal and child health.

‘The people really make PNG—they are lovely and welcoming, especially the women and the gorgeous children.’

‘Every placement has its ups and downs but on the whole it has been an amazing experience—I’ve learnt so much, not only about PNG, but about myself as well.’

The Australian Government has supported an estimated 15,000 Australians as volunteers in developing countries as part of its overseas aid program since the 1960s. In 2011–12, more than 1,500 Australians spent some or all of the year in a developing country to make a difference to the lives of people living in poverty, and to make the world a better place.

Governor-General’s visit highlights AusAID’s efforts to improve education and health services in PNG

The Governor-General, Ms Quentin Bryce AC CVO, visited a number of AusAID project sites in Papua New Guinea last week.

The trip highlighted AusAID’s efforts in improving education opportunities, promoting health initiatives to combat HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, and implementing programs to end violence against women.

On her first day in Port Moresby, the Governor-General was welcomed to the Hohola Youth Development Centre by students performing a ‘sing sing’ in traditional dress. Hohola is a vocational training centre where disadvantaged youths are taught practical skills and trades including carpentry, hospitality, mechanics, sewing and computer use.

AusAID has assisted the centre through its Incentive Fund Program, which has been supporting the delivery of essential services and infrastructure in PNG since 2000 through incentive-based funding to well-performing organisations. The fund has contributed around $4 million to Hohola Youth Development Centre which has been used to build classrooms and workshops, as well as the assembly hall in which the Governor-General gave a speech. Enrolments have increased from 430 in 2005, to more than 660 today.

The Governor-General paid tribute to the centre’s staff and students, and underlined the importance of Australia’s contribution to education in PNG.

‘Australia has contributed more than 110 million kina ($50 million) toward subsidising school fees since 2010, helping more than half a million children to attend school each year,’ she said. ‘It is exhilarating to be among students who are pursuing their studies with enthusiasm, seizing opportunities that will bring confidence, jobs, income security and independence.’

Supporting children’s development through rugby league

Prime Minister Julia Gillard today launched a rugby league program in Papua New Guinean schools that will encourage healthy lifestyles for 50,000 children, while boosting their physical, social, reading and maths skills.

The PNG Rugby League in Schools Pilot Program will support 50,000 Papua New Guinean boys and girls to participate in rugby league in 80 primary schools across three provinces.

The Australian Sports Commission and the National Rugby League will deliver the program in partnership with the PNG National Department of Education and PNG Rugby Football League. The program will be funded by AusAID through Australia’s aid program in PNG.

The three-year program commencing in 2013 will deliver up to 100 resource kits and train up to 500 teachers.

It will include clinics to develop physical skills and teamwork as well as books and other learning materials to help with maths and reading.

The program will go well beyond sport, promoting team building, fair play and healthy lifestyles.

New isolation ward boosts the fight against TB in PNG

The effort to stop tuberculosis (TB) in Papua New Guinea (PNG) received a boost this week with the opening of new specialist treatment facilities at Daru General Hospital in PNG’s Western Province. Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Senator the Hon Matt Thistlethwaite, opened the 22-bed TB and isolation ward at Daru General Hospital with PNG Minister for Health and HIV, the Hon Michael Malabag MP.

The ward comprises six isolation rooms that meet international standards for isolation of airborne infections in addition to a 16 bed ward for recovering TB patients. The facilities will help improve infection control and reduce the risk of transmission of TB, particularly drug-resistant strains, from patient to patient.