Australia Awards alumna Emma Minimbi is creating positive change in her community in Jiwaka with her skills and knowledge.

Winner of the 2019 Allison Sudradjat Prize which is awarded to two high-achieving Australia Awards scholars from PNG annually, Emma has already been recognised as an outstanding scholar and emerging leader.

Less than a week after completing volunteer work with Voice for Change as part of her Prize activities, Emma is now setting up a legal aid office in Wurup Kaip to provide pro bono legal aid to women and children who have experienced gender-based violence.

This service complements the initiatives of the Roni Pingrui Community Development Association (RPCDA), a grassroots organisation created to promote peace, order and discipline in the community and progress inclusive development.

“I have seen first-hand the need for legal aid and representation for women and children in rural areas of PNG,” says Emma, who completed a Master of Public and International Law at The University of Melbourne. “Therefore, I am working on establishing a small community-based organisation to promote and protect women’s rights and provide capacity building training on ending Sorcery Accusations Related Violence.”

Emma recently led a Village Courts Officials Training which covered the Family Protection Act (2013), Lukautim Pikinini Act (2015), regulation granting Interim Protection Orders, and the jurisdiction and responsibilities of court officials. She organised complementary training to discuss banning informal ‘Haus kots’ and to encourage people to use the Village Courts for legal matters and grievances.

“I would like to thank Australia Awards for facilitating the last eight months of my internship and volunteer work to promote and protect women’s rights in rural Jiwaka as well as building capacity of Village Court Officials to make justice more accessible to rural women and children,” Emma says. “I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to tangible development in the law and justice sector at the rural level in PNG.”

Through the RPCDA, Emma will organise and facilitate Ward Councillors training and further awareness of the Acts in place to eliminate violence against women and girls in PNG communities.

Emma says she is proud that her work complements the PNG-Australia Partnership’s broader efforts to ensure that gender equality, including gender-based violence is addressed as an issue across all development programs in PNG.

“The empowerment of our Village Court Officials through capacity building ensures a stronger justice system is in place that protects our most vulnerable persons. I have aided many women and children and my work has been nothing short of fulfilling and empowering.”