At the 18th Meeting of Australia-PNG Ministerial Forum in Madang on 23 April 2008 Ministers agreed to the continued placement of senior and experienced Australian government officials in PNG agencies to help strengthen government and accountability.
Ministers also agreed to rename the Enhanced Cooperation Program (ECP) as the Strongim Gavman Program (Tok Pisin for “strengthening” or “empowering government”) or SGP.
Under the SGP, there are currently 38 Australian officials are working closely with their PNG counterparts to progress reform in the areas of economic and public sector governance, border management and transport safety and security, and law and justice.
Our officials are focused on providing strategic and policy advice and on building capacity in the PNG public service, including through mentoring to improve the knowledge and skills of PNG staff.
Over recent years, our officials have helped PNG achieve significant improvements in budget management, including greater transparency in budget and accounting processes and better financial controls.
Under initial arrangements for the former ECP, Australia and PNG had agreed to the deployment of up to 210 Australian Federal Police (AFP) personnel to improve law and order in PNG. We were obliged to withdraw these AFP personnel following the PNG Supreme Court ruling on 13 May 2005 that immunities for ECP personnel were in conflict with the PNG Constitution.
The 18th Ministerial Forum agreed to the commencement of a policing partnership, starting with the deployment of a start-up team of Australian police advisers, who would operate outside the SGP and be integrated with AusAID’s law and justice sector program.
The 19th Ministerial Forum in Brisbane on 10 June 2009 endorsed the revised arrangements for the SGP, ensuring increased focus on capacity building, improved integration with the broader aid program and joint management and ownership of the program.
At the PNG-Australia Bilateral Meeting in Alotau on 7-8 July 2010 Ministers noted the SGP would be considered as part of the reviews of technical advisers and the Development Cooperation Treaty.
In August 2012, the Australian Government agreed to a new phase of SGP. In December 2012, the Australia-Papua New Guinea Ministerial Forum communique stated that the Australian and PNG Governments would work together to develop a new delivery mechanism for SGP that was responsive to Papua New Guinea's needs and well aligned to the PNG Government's priorities. A design process to determine what this phase will look like commenced in 2013. It will involve close consultation with the PNG Government. The goal is to bring a new program online in January 2014.
Papua New Guinea and Torres Strait Section
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Barton ACT 0221
Tel: (02) 6261 1111
Fax: (02) 6261 2248