From environmental engineering and education leadership to development economics and tropical animal science, the latest cohort of Australia Awards Scholarships graduates are both diverse and determined to make a positive difference across Papua New Guinea.

Selected for their leadership potential, academic skills and ability to contribute to Papua New Guineas’s sustainable development, the returning cohort of 40 completed studies in Australia earlier in 2019 in 12 distinct fields of study, mostly at Master’s level. Nearly half of the returning scholars come from the provinces and are working to improve governance and service delivery at the subnational level.

Returning graduates took part in a two-day reintegration workshop Port Moresby from 18-19 September. The key aim was to further develop ethical leadership capabilities and to support leadership role in Papua New Guinea’s economic and social development.

The graduates also attended a welcome reception hosted by Australian High Commissioner, His Excellency Bruce Davis, where guests included Public Service Minister, Honorable Westly Nukundj, and other senior representatives of the Government of Papua New Guinea, private sector and civil society.

High Commissioner Davis lauded the scholars’ achievements and encouraged them to apply their skills and knowledge widely.

‘The Australia Awards Scholarships are about identifying the next generation of global leaders. Here in Papua New Guinea, we seek to partner with current and emerging leaders to help them to lead and drive positive development change,’ High Commissioner Davis said.

‘The returning scholars are among the best and brightest in Papua New Guinea and their contribution in priority sectors can make a tangible difference at all levels across this great country.

‘I’m thrilled that the graduates represent a cross-section of the public and private sectors and encourage these wide-ranging connections and links with Australia to continue in the years ahead.

‘They also exemplify the deep people-to-people links that are at the heart of the PNG-Australia Partnership.’

Returning scholar Paula Zebedee Aines studied a Master’s of Midwifery at Flinders University in South Australia, after an earlier Bachelor’s of Midwifery under an Australia Awards In-Papua New Guinea Scholarship.

Speaking at the reception on behalf of the returning cohort, Ms Zebedee Aines related her journey that has included work at a rural health facility in Western Highlands Province and a diversity of academic and professional development experiences in Australia.

‘Apart from our core studies, I know my fellow Australia Awards graduates will agree that we had the wonderful opportunity to participate in enrichment activities such as guest lectures, workshops and leadership programs,’ Ms Zebedee Aines said.

‘I challenge all of us scholars to see through the development plans that we have. Because it is all about improvement and development of our beautiful country. We are Papua New Guineans, it’s for our families, our tribesmen and women and the future of our children.

‘So utilise all that you have returned with, and set the change at a high note for others to follow. Let’s drive change with a positive mind and take our country forward.’