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Commemorating our contribution to PNG

You can help secure a future for the old ASOPA site on Middle Head; a future that is productive and which commemorates its history as a place of learning and a training institution. This is the time to make your views known to the Australian Government through Minister Duncan Kerr. Here's Bill Wilson's submission.

The Hon Duncan Kerr SC, MP
Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House

Dear Sir

I believe an approach has been made to you to redevelop the former School of Pacific Administration at Mosman as a training institute for Pacific Islanders to assist them to make culturally appropriate decisions on matters of major concern such as economic needs, climatic change, health services, and local and regional political issues. Such a development would assist Pacific Island opinion leaders and government officials to further develop their capacity to make vital decisions about their future needs without domination by major world powers. This is in line with Australian policy, which recognises the rights of Pacific Islanders to manage their own affairs, free of domination and political/economic blackmail. I strongly support this approach having had many years of contact with Pacific Islanders and being sympathetic to their concerns about their collective futures.

This form of assistance would also enhance Australia’s reputation as a friendly and supportive nation willing to help its neighbours without attempting domination and interference in internal affairs.

I also see the proposed training institute as being of value in the training of leaders of Australian indigenous groups to meet the problems being faced by their own people. This would be in line with past activities of the ASOPA in providing training for Northern Territory field staff.

I would like to see that the proposed institute be used to commemorate the contribution made to Papua New Guinea by young Australian field officers who gave up their youth, risked their health and wellbeing, and gave up alternative career and education opportunities to assist the indigenous peoples of TPNG and the Northern Territory. These officers included agricultural officers, education officers, medical assistants, nurses and patrol officers who made major contribution to the indigenous peoples and communities they worked with. In discussions with international students with whom I studied at London University, the dedication of Australian field staff and their policy of care and compassion clearly exceeded that experienced by indigenous populations in Africa and Asia.

The concept of recognising the merit of Australians working overseas is already accepted in relation to personnel in the armed forces and in police groups assisting to maintain law and order in 3rd World nations. It is timely that the field staff who served more peaceful purposes in TPNG before independence were given equal recognition before illness and old age wipes them and their historic memories out – much to the loss of this nation.

I make this submission not as a ‘do gooder’ but as a proud Australian who experienced at first hand the dealings of Australian field staff in TPNG and later in the Northern Territory. I hope that you will give careful consideration to this proposal and the submissions of support you will certainly receive. If I can be of any service to you on the issue please contact me.

Yours sincerely

WT Wilson


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