The importance of child protection policies was at the top of the agenda at a recent Australia Awards hosted leadership conference in East New Britain.

The conference, held in late June, brought together 26 participants from Australia Awards In-PNG Scholarships’ 12 Partner Tertiary Institutions, with School Principals, Faculty Deans and other senior academic staff in attendance.

The workshop saw fruitful discussion on how to continue the quality of the In-PNG scholarships program. A highlight was providing capacity support for the development of the partner institutions’ child protection policies.

The workshop underlined that child protection was everyone’s responsibility and noted the centrality of effective and formal child protection policies.

One participant, Principal of Enga Teachers’ College, Mr Michael Homingu, said the leadership workshop had helped identify challenges and practical solutions.

‘The child protection policy we have is very broad and the implementation part is what’s lacking. Our school needed a policy that is in line with our duty of care which is to protect the welfare of the students,’ Mr Homingu said.

‘I am grateful for the conference because I now have a policy guideline. When I return, the guideline will be brought to the attention of the school’s governing council to have it endorsed.

‘After endorsement, we will begin awareness of the policy through an existing program in school called the pastoral care program. As institutions in PNG, we have an obligation to protect children that are under our care.’

The four-day conference ended on a high note as participants from the 12 partner institutions left equipped with new knowledge of how to implement and affirm their commitment to child safety in their respective institutions.

Australia Awards In-PNG Scholarships are prominent awards offered by the Australian Government in partnership with the Government of Papua New Guinea. In-PNG awards empower scholars to develop their knowledge and make a lasting contribution in agreed priority sectors of health, education and transport.