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PNGAA backs exchange scheme proposal

The PNG Association has written to Duncan Kerr, the Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Islands Affairs, supporting a proposal by two former patrol officers to improve governmental relationships between PNG and Australia.

At its recent meeting, the Association backed the proposal from Paul Oates and Norm Richardson that the Federal Government establish an exchange scheme under the auspices of AusAid to enable young officers from the Commonwealth and PNG Public Services to exchange jobs for short-term assignments as a means of building understanding and transferring expertise between the two countries”.

The exchange scheme - if appropriately developed, managed, branded and promoted in both countries - will provide the basis for the creation of peer to peer relationships based on mutuality not patronage.

The Oates-Richardson plan is that the scheme must be reciprocal and involve the Government of PNG in the total process – from design to execution and evaluation - not as mere recipients of Australian largesse, irrespective of where the bulk of the money is sourced.

Oates and Richardson emphasise the need for proper mentoring to support officers of both countries. They say this must be planned well in advance and preferably overseen by a committee made up of government and non-government members.

The committee must ensure that time spent outside working hours does not drive participants into 'cultural ghettos' of their own country people resident in the host country. The entire program must aim for maximal learning about people and culture and seek to develop appropriate networks and long lasting contacts within and outside government.

The PNG Association, through Paul Oates and Norm Richardson and other members, is willing to provide support for this initiative and to engage other entities, such as Rotary International, that may be able to assist.

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