Papua New Guinea is one of our closest neighbours. On a map, our northernmost tip points directly to Daru, capital of PNG’s Western Province, and the Torres Strait Islands seem like small stepping-stones between us.
For 27 PNG public servants studying toward a Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management (through a special program delivery arrangement between UniSA Strategic Partnerships and the Australia Awards), that geographical proximity is important – it makes sense for us to be good friends.
Now, half way through their 12-week study program, the group is brimming with enthusiasm for what they are learning, the important opportunity of coming to Australia to study, and how they will apply their knowledge back home in their large and administratively challenging country.
Moses Yandane, who works in development and training for Provincial Administration in Enga, one of PNG’s provinces, says seeing the benefits of e-learning has been a huge revelation.
“It is fantastic to have learning delivered via the computer and to be able to submit your work the same way – we don’t get much exposure to that at home but it would be so useful to boost access to education,” he says.
One of the great aspects of the UniSA Program is that it concentrates on core competencies such as Business English as well as a range of topics that focus on managing and leading people in order to make a difference – including units on power and influence and values – alongside workflow, workforce planning and performance management, workplace learning and development, recruiting, forecasting and planning and budgeting and other business practice.
For the nine women selected for the program, the opportunity to study here is seen as something incredibly special.
With 28 children between them, these public servants have sacrificed a great deal (more than 12 weeks away from their kids) to come Down Under to study – but they see it as a privilege.
“We do this not only for ourselves – it is having a huge impact on our personal development – but also for our children and our country,” says Dorcas Gambu from West New Britain Province.
And the others are in furious agreement.
Heidi Kaivi says it has always been harder for women in management to have opportunities to develop, but PNG’s new Gender Equity and Inclusion Policy has meant women are now considered more often when development opportunities arise.
“It is important that we do our best here and that we return and help to improve opportunities for other women in PNG,” she says.
“We will also go home with an experience of what a warm and welcoming neighbour we have in Australia.”
The Australia Awards are prestigious international Scholarships and Short Courses funded by the Australian Government providing participants an opportunity to undertake study, research and professional development in Australia.