Over the last decade PNG's health and education systems have faced enormous challenges to deliver quality services that meets the needs of its population. The PNG Government's National Health Plan 2010-20 provides a clear framework for improving health services. However, budgetary constraints have hindered implementation of the plan.
Australia's engagement with the PNG education and health sector is focused on helping PNG prioritise its own resources efficiently to deliver services to its population. Our support can help PNG build an efficient health care system to prevent, detect and respond to health security threats quickly and effectively. To maximise the influence of our investments, we focus on key areas of the health system, including workforce planning, communicable diseases, family planning, sexual and reproductive health, and maternal and child health. Our efforts seek to help PNG to protect itself from emerging public health threat, support the infrastructure and training needs of rural primary health centres and promote greater access to family planning services, sexual and reproductive health services.
Australia's support for education in PNG builds on commitments in Australia's Foreign Policy White Paper to work with partner governments to strengthen skills, people to people links, and leadership. The Australia Partnering with Papua New Guinea: Education and Leadership Portfolio Plan 2018-2022 articulates Australia's objective to support Papua New Guinean citizens gain the skills and knowledge to take advantage of employment and leadership opportunities. We will support:
- Foundational literacy and numeracy for girls and boys in targeted provinces / schools
- Training and vocational skills geared to market needs
- Leadership skills and attributes that benefit Papua New Guinea's development and stability.
Australia recognises that gender equality and women's empowerment are essential to Papua New Guinea's economic and human development, and we seek opportunities to engage with Government to advocate on gender. We funded the construction of two new Family Support Centres (in Daru, Western Province and Buka, Bougainville). This involved training of health workers (15 female and 15 male) to provide safety and support services for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. Notably in 2017-18, 80 per cent of Australia's development assistance to Papua New Guinea effectively addressed gender issues The Women Shaping Pacific Development Program has initiated investments to support these objectives, including through the Australia-Pacific Women Parliamentary Partnerships Project. The Business Coalition for Women has also been developed to support the mentoring of women business leaders and to facilitate connections across the Pacific.
Australia also harnesses public diplomacy and human development opportunities through sports for development investments in PNG in line with the Australian Sports Diplomacy Strategy.
PNG Health Program
Up to $276.90 million, 2015-2018
Australia is the largest donor to PNG's health sector, contributing up to 20 per cent of PNG's domestic health budgets in recent years. The Australian Government's support focuses on improving health security, and maternal and child health outcomes, and is aligned to PNG's National Health Plan: 2010-2020, which provides a robust vision and framework for improving health services in PNG.
As our nearest neighbour, there is a mutual interest in combatting the social and economic impacts of diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS. We are working through partners – Government of PNG, World Bank and civil society to improve the detection, diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis (TB), particularly in the National Capital District and Western Province. Our efforts have resulted in people in Daru and neighbouring villages in South Fly completing tuberculosis treatment – from around 65 per cent in 2014 to 99 per cent in 2017. Through an Australia-China-PNG Trilateral Malaria Project, which commenced in 2016, we are also supporting malaria surveillance and diagnosis to combat the increasing rate of malaria infections in Papua New Guinea.
With unacceptably high maternal and neonatal morality rates in Papua New Guinea, Australia in partnership with UN agencies, multilaterals, churches, NGOs and the Government of Papua New Guinea are working to improve basic health services. Since 2015, Australian support for UNICEF's Early Essential New-born Care program, benefited an estimated 104,000 new-borns through training nurses, midwives, community health workers in 195 health facilities across 11 provinces. Australia also supports sexual and reproductive health programming under the PNG Partnerships Fund. A consortium led by the Papua New Guinea Catholic Church Health Services is working with Government and church providers across 19 provinces, and has placed 1,102 additional people on anti-retroviral medication and treated over 2,700 people for sexually transmitted infections in 2017-18. A consortium led by Marie Stopes is working to increase the coverage of high quality reproductive services such as family planning, ante and post-natal care, supervised deliveries, and infant and child nutrition and immunisation across 14 provinces.
Multilateral Health Partnerships
Australia funds multilateral partners in PNG to leverage their experience and comparative advantage in improving health outcomes. The World Health Organization provides technical support to the National Department of Health and supports routine and supplementary immunisation campaigns to ensure that children in the most remote districts are vaccinated. The World Bank undertakes analysis of health financing to support effective funding flows for health service delivery. The Asian Development Bank is contributing to improving the National Health Information System as well as strengthening governance arrangements for delivery of health services in provinces. The PNG-Australia-World Bank health security initiative to address multi-resistant tuberculosis brings international expertise and finance to help deliver treatment and prevention services to vulnerable communities.
PNG Education Program
Up to $264.4 million, 2015-2018
In basic education, we work in partnership with the National Department of Education and provincial education authorities, and non-government organisations. As the largest donor to the education sector, we focus on policy and capacity building at the national level, supporting teachers to improve the quality of teaching and learning, and primary school infrastructure. We aim to reduce the barriers that prevent both girls and boys attending and staying at school for a quality education.
In the higher education and vocational sector, we work in partnership with the Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology; universities; Technical and Vocational Educational and Training (TVET) institutions and colleges to improve access and quality. The program is strengthening quality assurance and accreditation in the higher education sector in Papua New Guinea. In particular, the program responds to the demand for a qualified PNG labour force. We also work closely with industry to ensure graduates and the skills sector are meeting industry needs. Our support to the TVET sector is complemented with an Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) campus in Port Moresby. APTC meets a key gap in the PNG TVET sector, providing internationally-recognised trade qualifications to Papua New Guineans in important areas of demand, such as metal fabrication and welding, and hospitality.
PNG Sports Development Programs
Up to $10 million, 2014-2019
Sport is a globally recognised - and increasingly utilised - vehicle to achieve development outcomes in areas such as health, social cohesion, gender equality and disability inclusion. In Papua New Guinea, the Australian Government strongly supports these outcomes through its targeted sport for development programs through a number of initiatives, including:
- Pacific Sports Partnership (PSP) - An Australian Government Initiative that has contributed to sport for development programs in the Pacific. PSP supports development priorities with social inclusion, improving healthy behaviours associated with non-communicable diseases through activities associated with Australian football, cricket, football, rugby union, basketball and table tennis.
- Just Play (in partnership with the Oceania Football Confederation) works through soccer to help children learn healthy lifestyles and diets. It also promotes gender equality and actively works to include children who are living with disability.
- Equal Playing Field delivered in partnership with Plan International Australia delivers a program for boys and girls aged 12–14, to help them define healthy, positive and non-violent ways to express themselves to create stronger, safer, and happier communities.
- League Bilong Life delivered in partnership with National Rugby League encourages healthy lifestyles for girls and boys while boosting their physical, social, reading and maths skills.
- Water Aid delivered in partnership with Netball PNG to promote water and sanitation messages and increase women’s leadership through sports associations.
Support for Rugby League
Australian Government support for rugby league in PNG (in association with the NRL) improves participation of both men and women in the game, delivers education and health initiatives, and provides mentoring and leadership opportunities for women and girls.
PNG Gender Program: Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development
Up to $78 million, 2012-2022
Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women) is a Pacific regional program, with individual plans developed for each country. It aims to improve the political, economic and social opportunities of Pacific women and supports countries to meet the commitments they made in the Pacific Leaders’ Gender Equality Declaration. Through this initiative, Australia is partnering with Papua New Guinean women and men to:
- Combat and prevent violence against women and support survivors of violence: for example, Australia is supporting UNDP and the Government of PNG to strengthen national coordination, implementation and monitoring mechanisms for zero tolerance of family and sexual violence.
- Promote economic opportunities for women: for example, Australia is supporting the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to improve the economic empowerment of women in partnership with the private sector – including through improving opportunities for women farmers in PNG.
- Promote opportunities for women to take up leadership roles at all levels of society: Australia is supporting the Inclusive Development in Post-Conflict Bougainville (IDIB) project to empower Bougainville women and to increase their capacity for leadership, community organisation and project management.
Australia is supporting Papua New Guinea to adapt to the impacts of climate change and deliver on its international climate change commitments. In addition to the Foreign Policy White Paper's broad strategy on climate change, Australia's support is guided by Papua New Guinea's climate change policies and the Papua New Guinea-Australia Climate Change Action Plan, which sets the foundation for practical and long-term collaboration.
Australia is providing direct assistance to improve the capacity of all levels of government to address the impacts of climate change and access international and private climate finance opportunities. This includes partnerships, secondments and training opportunities.
Australia is also working through non-government organisations to support vulnerable communities to increase their resilience to climate change by understanding the risks and finding ways to improve food security and diversify fishing and farming approaches.
Australia also provides indirect support by integrating climate considerations into its broader aid investments in Papua New Guinea, particularly in transport, health, education, disaster risk reduction and infrastructure. For example, the Transport Sector Support Program is supporting the Papua New Guinea Government to apply climate and disaster risk reduction in engineering, construction and maintenance of climate resilient roads, bridges and wharves. Under the new Economic and Social Infrastructure Program ($130 million, 2019-22), Australia will continue to ensure best practice standards are adopted for low carbon, climate resilient infrastructure and renewable energy.
Disaster preparedness and response
Australia assists Papua New Guinea to develop its disaster response capacity through ongoing technical support to the National Disaster Centre, and work with international partners to strengthen Papua New Guinea's disaster response system. Australia is providing technical assistance through Geoscience Australia to build the capacity of early warning systems for geo-hazards such as volcanoes. We are also supporting the Red Cross Society to enhance its capacity to prepare for and respond to disasters. If the PNG Government makes a request for international assistance in the event of a significant disaster, Australia has the capacity to rapidly deploy humanitarian assistance to Papua New Guinea in conjunction with humanitarian partners.
On 26 February 2018, an earthquake of 7.5 magnitude struck the Highlands region of Papua New Guinea, particularly Hela and Southern Highlands provinces affecting approximately 270,000 people. Following a request from PNG Prime Minister O'Neill on 28 February, Australia provided Australian Defence Force personnel and a $5 million assistance package to support the PNG Government's humanitarian efforts.
Alongside the initial humanitarian relief effort, DFAT and the PNG Department of Works undertook an assessment of the key social infrastructure impacted by the earthquake. The assessment indicated there was extensive damage to critical infrastructure across the earthquake-affected zone and that it was severely impacting basic service delivery. DFAT has prepared a package of support, in response to the PNG Government's request for assistance with long-term recovery and reconstruction, which will focus on repairing and rebuilding critical health and education facilities, restoring electricity and safe access to water and sanitation.
Following a request from Prime Minister O'Neill, Geoscience Australia conducted an assessment of the cause of the earthquake. It concluded that the 26 February earthquake was the largest in Papua New Guinea since 1900 and was consistent with the natural tectonic processes that have been recognised by many geological studies of the region over the past half century.
In 2015-16, Papua New Guinea experienced a prolonged drought with associated frosts that led to food and water shortages across PNG. Australia provided a total of $8 million for drought response activities in PNG. As part of its PNG monitoring and evaluation program, DFAT commissioned the Evaluation of Australia's response to El Nino Drought and Frosts in PNG 2015-17.