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There's a real job of work to be done

I’m doing it tough in Noosa at the moment and, from my peaceful perch at Sun Lagoon, I watch the yin and yang of the PNGAA debating its future. Chips Mackellar - who I have never met but admire a lot because of the power of his prose - has pondered whether the Reform Group represents a ‘chalkie takeover’ of the Association. I can tell Chips that, no, it does not.

Chips has also observed (quite reasonably) that what the current PNGAA committee proposes is what the Reform Group is asking for. By and large this is true. But, unfortunately, what the committee and reformers want – despite their alignment - is not necessarily what they will get.

The PNGAA has resisted real change for a long time, despite what some of its most worthwhile servants desired, this notwithstanding the name change a few years back from Retired Officers Association of Papua New Guinea to Papua New Guinea Association of Australia.

It will take a massive 75-25% majority of voting members to institute even the most modest changes when the constitution comes up for member review in April. If these changes do not succeed – then the PNGAA will remain on furlough. Perhaps forever. A backwater of pleasant nostalgia and not much else.

The Reform Group wants to ensure that members become engaged with the PNGAA. It wants to get some real and beneficial change underway. It wants the PNGAA to be representative of all its members, to put the Australia-PNG relationship somewhere near the top of its priorities, to emerge as a sustainable organisation and to open its hearts to Papua New Guinean residents of Australia in the same way it has opened itself to other people.

So, Chips, there is a real job of work to be done. And I reckon, now you've built all those roads in PNG, it’s one you ought to sign up for.


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Eau Robbins

hello well, im so happy to read your comment, i am eau suve refered to in your article. my father suve latoro worked with mrs jonhson all those years ago.
unfortunately my father passed away in 1981.
however, my mum would be so pleased when i tell her about your article

ive lived in brisbane since 1981 and work with ozcare a community care organisation here.

thankyou, ive never forgotten mrs johnsons in my education, and always acknowledge her part in my life the social graces of "white people" in any given situation.

i am happy for you to contact via my email,
love to hear how magaret, alan and gary are these days and especially mrs johnston.
please pass on my warmest regards to the family

Ron Sterland

I'm ex-ASOPA, (1969-70): volunteer, then Admin chalkie. I've been a PNGAA member for quite some time, been impressed by the work of the committee and really enjoy reading 'Una Voce' from cover to cover.

Just wanted to say a huge congratulations to the current committee and a 'thank you'. I really like and support your new directions.

Bob Curtis

A part history of PNG and PNGAA.

As a Member of the PNGAA, and interested in the History of Papua New Guinea from the late 1800’s until now, I have encountered many very interesting people, some admirable, and some notorious. As a standout personality I have chosen a Lady who completed her Secondary School Training before the Second World War and attended the Cambridge Business College in Sydney graduating in Business Principles and Stenographic Skills. Her first employer was the Australian Gaslight Company where she met her future Husband.

Marrying in 1946 she spent the next thirty years in the Territory beside her Kiap Husband, much of it on remote Outstations without the usual amenities enjoyed in even the minor Sub District Headquarters. She typifies the strong women who labored beside their Husbands to help in the development of Papua New Guinea from the grass roots to the Independent Nation it is today.

During these years she gave birth to, and reared three children, tragically losing her daughter Christine, and then followed a further two children as some compensation. Unless you have had the experience of Outstation Life it is difficult to grasp the loneliness and insecurity suffered by a young Mother particularly when her husband is absent for prolonged periods. The family was then transferred to Manus Island.

My subject developed an interest in voluntary work with Indigenous Women, and in 1958 when challenged by Lady Baden- Powell to help form a Company of Girl Guides, she studied the movement, and helped outfit the Girls with Uniforms. Her Company was officially recognized as the best turned out Girl Guides in Papua New Guinea.

In addition to her voluntary work the Director of Education offered her the position of Home Economics Teacher, and she was complimented on the “Interest and Versatility that she had given to her lessons. The visiting Inspector gave her a letter of appreciation for her efforts. The Family was then transferred to Popondetta.

She was then appointed to a Tempory position as Senior District Clerk, a position she held for the next seven years, and both she and her Husband became heavily involved in civic activities such as the Parents and Citizens Association, and she became an active member of the Country Women’s Association. She served as Treasurer, and later became the recipient of The Loyal Service Badge after serving as the Branch President.

Aware of the deficiencies in the education of Indigenous Girls, she taught the social graces to two local girls. One, Eau Suve later became a Diplomat with the Department of Foreign Affairs and was crowned “Miss Papua New Guinea” and represented her country in Australia. The other lass, Winnie Arek, daughter of Paulus Arek, an elected Member of the House of Assembly, after Secondary education in Australia became a successful Business Woman in Port Moresby.

In 1970 The family was transferred to Port Moresby where her Husband was appointed Director of Civil Defence, and she replaced a Male Clerk in the Division of Intelligence and Security. Naturally her interest in the CWA continued. She was selected as an Executive to the National Council the Governing Body of the Country Women’s Association of Papua New Guinea, and the following year she was elected as National President, a prestigious position recognized by the Government and the Associated Country Women of the World. In 1974 she was granted Life Membership. A glowing accompanying citation stressed her understanding of the needs and problems of Out Station Women.

Her Marriage of 56 years ended with the death of her Husband in 2001, and Nancy Edith Johnston, now 88 years old has a lifetime of exemplary service both in Papua New Guinea and to the PNGAA behind her. She neither sought, nor received the usual Australian Honors, but I invite the reader to compare her achievements with their own. I am honored to have met her.

Bob Curtis


Sorry we missed you by a day in Noosa. It rained while we were there but I believe the sun is shining on you at the moment. It must be a good omen for you and the direction of the PNGAA.

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