Enhancing human development in Papua New Guinea


PNG continues to face enormous challenges in providing access to quality health services and education opportunities for all Papua New Guineans.

We are focusing our efforts in health and education to develop PNG’s own capacity to deliver services to its population using its own resources.

Australia is assisting PNG to achieve a more effective health system, targeting improvements in maternal and child health and communicable disease control. To maximise the influence of our investments we focus on key areas of the health system, including workforce, infrastructure and financing. Our investments in HIV are progressively shifting to supporting the PNG Government’s ability to address its responsibilities, while maintaining a focus on most-at-risk populations. Our efforts are continuing to make inroads against malaria and tuberculosis. We are maintaining partnerships with multilateral agencies and developing a stronger engagement with the private sector and faith-based health services.

Australia's support for education in PNG focusses on improving access and quality across the sector, including working in the basic, secondary, technical and higher education sub-sectors. Our efforts support more students, particularly girls and children with a disability, to enrol in and complete school, to further their education through university or technical college, and to enter the workforce with the skills that they need. As part of our changing aid program, the Education Program is investigating opportunities to work with business across the education sector. In particular, we are collaborating with business and industry, as well as government, to revitalise PNG’s technical colleges, working to ensure technical and vocational training is strongly linked to industry demand. We are also facilitating partnerships between higher education institutions in PNG and Australian universities.

Promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls can make important contributions to PNG’s economic and human development. 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.

Related initiatives

PNG Health Program

Up to $609.1 million, 2012-2018

The Australian Government health program focuses on improving health security and maternal and child health outcomes by supporting a range of PNG government and non-state agencies to deliver health services.

In line with the PNG National Health Plan and National HIV Strategy, the program provides funding to partners working in health and HIV and supports PNG to improve the detection, diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis (TB), particularly in the National Capital District and Western Province. The program also supports the PNG Government to work towards the goal of malaria elimination by 2030.

The program focus on TB control in Western Province is supported by the Torres Strait Cross Border Health Issues Committee (HIC). The HIC is co-chaired by the Australian and PNG Departments of Health. The primary objective of the HIC is to identify health concerns that arise in the Torres Strait Treaty Zone and adjacent Treaty villages along the South Fly coast of PNG.

Through the PNG Partnership Fund (PPF), Non-Government Organisations are supported to improve priority health outcomes. The first round of PPF grants will deliver improved sexual, reproductive, maternal and child health and integrated HIV services through a number of NGO partners led by Catholic Church Health Services and Marie Stopes PNG.

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.

Related documents*
Name of document Year published Type
Maternal and Child Health Initiative Phase II: Final Report 2016 Final report
Reproductive Health Training Unit (RHTU): Monitoring and evaluation final report 2017 Final report
Independent Evaluation of DFAT's Multilateral Partnerships in the Health Sector of PNG and management response 2017 Independent evaluation
April 2017 Torres Strait Cross Border Health Issues Committee (HIC) meeting: Summary of discussion and key outcomes 2017 Meeting outcomes summary
Related links

PNG Education Program

Up to $284.26 million, 2011-2018

In basic education, we work in partnership with the National Department of Education and provincial education authorities. 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 Technical College (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.

Related documents*

Name of document Year published Type
Gender and Education Assessment: A review of the literature on girls and education 2015 Literature review
Australia Awards In-Country Scholarships: review and management response 2017 Review and management response

Related links

PNG Sports Development Programs

Up to $10 million, 2014-2019

The objective of this initiative is to contribute to improving gender equality, health, education, wellbeing and development outcomes through sports, and to broaden mutual understanding, by building, enduring relationships and people to people links between Australia and PNG. The Australian Government is working with a range of partners in PNG through targeted sports development programs.

Current partners include:

  • 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. 

Related documents*
Name of document Year published Type
Schools-based Rugby League Pilot Program in Papua New Guinea Design Document 2012 Design
Independent evaluation of Pacific Sports Partnerships phase I: 2009-14 2015 Independent evaluation
Related links

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.

Related documents*

Name of document Year published Type
Delivery Strategy: Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development 2012–2022 2012 Strategy
Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development—Design document 2014 Design document
Papua New Guinea Country Plan Summary 2014 Plan and design
Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development in Papua New Guinea: Mid-term Review of the Papua New Guinea Country Plan, and management response 2017 Independent evaluation

Related links

Climate change, disaster preparedness and response

A stocktake of the Papua New Guinea program’s climate change investment was undertaken in 2016-17 as part of Australia’s commitment to support the Pacific islands on climate change. The stocktake identified a total development assistance investment of $39.9 million in 2016-17, comprising $2 million on programs with climate change as a primary objective, and $37.9 million on programs with climate change as a secondary objective. Australia is funding technical assistance valued at $1.5 million for UNDP work to help build the capacity of Papua New Guinea’s Climate Change Development Authority (CCDA). Australia’s secondary climate change expenditure mainly consists of investments in transport, health and education infrastructure, health measures, and disaster risk reduction. For example, buildings funded by our development assistance are designed for sustainability, energy efficiency and where possible for low carbon-embodied materials.

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 Papua New Guinea 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.

Drought Evaluation

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 including:

  • water and sanitation, public health and agricultural recovery and resilience activities implemented by World Vision Australia, CARE Australia and Oxfam Australia in partnership with local communities;
  • distribution of drought resistent seeds for sweet potato, corn and other crops and promoting better agricultural practices through the PNG National Agricultural Research Institute;
  • support under the Church Partnerships Program to help church groups coordinate their drought response efforts; and
  • logistics support for food distribution.

DFAT commissioned the Evaluation of Australia’s response to El Nino Drought and Frosts in PNG 2015-17 as part of its PNG monitoring and evaluation program.

Related documents*

Name of document Year published Type
Evaluation of Australia’s response to PNG El Nino drought 2015-2017 2017 Independent evaluation


* The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is committed to high standards of transparency and accountability in the management of the Australian aid program through publishing information on our website, including policies, plans, results, evaluations and research. Our practice is to publish documents after the partner government and any other partners directly involved in the delivery of the initiative have been consulted. Not all material published on this site is created by the Australian aid program and therefore not all documents reflect our views. In limited circumstances some information may be withheld for reasons including privacy and commercial sensitivity.

Last Updated: 22 January 2018