Since 2011, Australia Awards has supported more than 1,400 Papua New Guineans to take up long-term studies in Australia, including 711 women and 52 people with disability. This includes Philip Takirua, who obtained his Bachelor (Honours) of Aviation Management from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne.

While working as an Assistant Air Traffic Controller with PNG Air Services Limited (now Niusky Pacific Limited), Philip applied for an Australia Award Scholarship to complete his bachelor’s program. He then applied for a second scholarship to complete the honours program.

For him, studying in Australia gave him exposure to real-world skills and experiences needed to build competency and confidence in his field. He participated in the Aviation Expo, the Australia Engineering Expo and the Australian Air Show, as well as an airport emergency exercise at Essendon Fields Airport, which is Melbourne’s base for corporate jets, emergency air services and regional travel. He also served as President of the PNG Swinburne Students’ Association. “Overall, it was a great experience for me,” Philip said. Philip has seen many benefits from his ‘highly recognized’ qualification adding, “It has elevated me to working at the management level in different companies.

After completing his scholarship program, Philip worked as an Aviation Coordinator with Inter Oil, and later became an Airport Manager at Exxon Mobil and then Newcrest Mining Limited (Newmont PNG).

“The knowledge and exposure I gained from the scholarship helped me grow my experience in the aviation industry. In hindsight, it is helping me mentor and guide those coming up the ranks in the  aviation sector. For me, it is important to help people understand the importance of complying with aviation regulations, and I hope this understanding is passed on to others,” Philip said.

He praises his Australia Awards Scholarship for giving him a solid foundation and encourages others to pursue their own studies: “To those who wish to apply for this scholarship, it will give you the opportunity to gain new knowledge and build competency. You will also gain recognition through your international qualification,” he adds.