The Toktok Bilong Strongim Nesen discussion series has
continued remove barriers to participation in the public events by persons
living with disabilities.
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities was
observed on 3 December each year to promote an understanding of persons with
disabilities and encourage support for their dignity, rights and well-being.
This year’s theme is ‘promoting the participation of persons
with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development
The Toktok Bilong Strongim Nesen discussions include a
diverse range of people get the opportunity to express their views and ask
At the most recent event Kaman Kelly, the PNG Assembly of
Disabled Persons treasurer, brought a perspective from his lived experience to
a discussion on tax and development.
Mr Kelly said that Papua New Guinea stood to benefit from
enabling people from marginalised groups – such as persons living with
disabilities – to become economically productive and pay taxes.
The discussions now feature sign-language interpreters so
that people with hearing impairments can engage with the panel and provide
their perspectives on topics of national importance.
The venue for the series is the University of Papua New
Guinea’s fully wheelchair accessible New Lecture Theatre, which was constructed
with Australian Government support.
PNG and Australia are partners in strengthening social
inclusion – diversity results in more innovation, increased productivity and
Public servants from three
highlands provinces came together at the start of October to work towards
improved gender equity and social inclusion outcomes.
The 47 participants from Jiwaka, Simbu and Western Highlands were the latest to benefit from the Gender Equity and Social Inclusion Policy Implementation Planning Sessions.
The sessions are rolled out at
the provincial level by the Department of Personnel Management and supported by
the Australian Government.
The sessions communicate the
principles and values of gender equity and social inclusion and provide
guidance on how they can be applied to work and community life to provide a
level playing field for all Papua New Guineans.
More than 476 public servants,
including 153 women and 323 men, have benefitted from the GESI Policy
Implementation Planning Sessions since 2016.
Upcoming sessions will
strengthen inclusivity and equity in Madang, Enga and East Sepik provinces.
After a few minutes with Charles Wapinien it becomes clear that
economic research and policy formulation are fundamental to addressing complex
national challenges and shaping Papua New Guinea’s future.
“Any issues, any challenges that a country, organisation or
society faces are framed into policies,” Charles said enthusiastically.
“There are many areas within economics. My specific area is
in research, specifically quantitative research to do with policies and
The father of two, originally from East Sepik but a
long-time resident of Port Moresby, has a good grounding in economics – as a
student, teacher and practitioner.
“I have a background in economics from Grade 12 and my
undergraduate program was a Bachelor of Economics,” he continued
“I was interested because I like maths and I’m good at
“I worked with BSP for seven years and then taught economics
at Port Moresby Grammar School.”
In 2017, while teaching, Charles saw an opportunity to go back to school himself through the new University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) post-graduate program in economic and public policy.
The program, offered as a Masters or Graduate Diploma, was
designed and taught as a collaboration between the UPNG School of Business
& Public Policy (SBPP) and the Australian National University (ANU).
Students are given the opportunity to develop their knowledge
and ability to create and implement effective policy in the national interest.
The two-year Master of Economic and Public Policy had
‘Charles Wapinien’ written all over it and he wasted no time in signing up.
The degree program gave Charles an academic platform to
boost his skills in economic and public policy analysis in a way that he could
apply in the workplace.
“The learning is critical to understanding concepts and
theories, and applying them to practical scenarios,” he said.
“Zooming down on the specifics of economics, I’m very interested in quantitative modelling – that’s what I worked towards in my final research paper.”
Charles also spoke highly of the UPNG-ANU connection – an
institutional link supported by the Papua New Guinea – Australia Partnership
through the Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct.
“The ANU lecturers and their UPNG counterparts motivate the
whole study process,” he said.
“People like [UPNG SBPP deputy dean] Dr Lawrence Sause and my supervisor [ANU team leader] Dr Manoj Pandey – these people are my real inspirations.
Dr Manoj Pandey, ANU team leader and economics lecturer, has
worked as part of the UPNG School of Business & Public Policy team since
He reiterated that economics and public policy are vital
disciplines and was certain the students have all the tools needed to make a big
contribution regardless of the path they take.
“They will definitely play a major role in developing PNG,”
Dr Pandey said.
“Economics is important for every country and public policy
is one of the pillars for development.”
After two-and-a-half years of hard work – classes, discussion and research – Charles Wapinien was at the centre of an historic moment as the first-ever recipient of the degree at the 63rd UPNG Graduation Ceremony.
“It was a milestone achievement not only for me but for my
family as well,” Charles said, reflecting on the day, “a great feeling
especially considering that there were a lot of sacrifices undertaken.”
His mentor Dr Pandey was similarly delighted to be present
as Charles graduated, along with a cohort of undergraduate economics students.
“Charles is the first Master of Economic and Public Policy
graduate – it was wonderful to see,” he said.
“You work with the students for a few years, then suddenly
they’re in a colourful gown, degree in hand – for any lecturer it’s always a
pleasure to see them graduated.”
UPNG’s School of Business & Public Policy is currently
taking applications for the 2020 Graduate Diploma of Economic and Public
Policy, which is a precursor to the full master’s program.
It was also announced recently that ten scholarships places will be awarded to middle and senior managers in the PNG public service, whose work focuses on economic management and government policy formulation.
The places are supported the Pacific Leadership and
Governance Precinct, a partnership between the Papua New Guinean and Australian
Governments supporting the development of public sector leadership in PNG.
Charles has already made good use of his skills as the
research manager at Anglo Pacific Research. He encouraged others to take up the
program and predicted he too will return to university.
“I give my encouragement to those interested to take it up,”
he said, ““down the track, I’m looking at a PhD.”
“The skills and knowledge I learned are very important for the country as a whole. Doors are opening and I am here to contribute to development.”
Public servants in the provinces are being given opportunities through specific training under the Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct to gain skills and knowledge that will drive improved service delivery, economic opportunities and community development at the provincial and district level.
The Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct launched two courses in Kokopo last month, which were attended by 57 participants.
The courses, Project Management and Public Speaking and Speechwriting, were launched by Public Service Minister Elias Kapavore, Department of Personnel Management Secretary John Kali, Acting Provincial Administrator Wilson Matava and Penny Dennis, First Secretary at the Australian High Commission.
The Precinct is increasingly focused on the development of provincial and district leaders, in line with Government of Papua New Guinea’s decentralisation agenda.
Mr Kali told participants that ethics and values-based leadership was crucial for service delivery in regional areas.
“Throughout the next few days you will be touching on some of these values, such as wisdom, honesty, integrity, respect, responsibility and accountability,” he said.
“Skills and competency for service delivery is not only for Port Moresby – it’s going out to Kokopo, Pomio, Nakanai and all the districts and Local Level Governments in the country.”
“Accepting the invitation to attend these courses means you are accepting the challenge to come and make a difference – upgrade your skills and upgrade your confidence, so we can respond positively in the way we deliver services,” Mr Kali said.
Mr Matava said it was important to embrace opportunities to improve the public service at the regional and national levels.
“Programs like these improve capacity and our performance in the front line,” he said.
“These reforms support improved service delivery and create economic opportunities.”
Ms Dennis said the launch of the courses supported the Papua New Guinea-Australia partnership for improved decentralisation and service delivery.
“The Australian High Commissioner recently described Papua New Guinea’s provinces and districts as the engine room for the nation’s future growth,”
“It is fitting that we support you – the participants in your own region – because you are responsible for keeping this engine running.”
Precinct courses respond to demands for skills and knowledge pertinent to existing and emerging public sector leaders. They encourage new ways of thinking about leadership in the PNG context and maintain a focus on
ethics, transparency and equality.
The Precinct is a partnership between the Governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia to support the development of ethical, capable public sector leaders throughout PNG.
Senior public servants are working on new strategies to elevate women and minority groups in decision making roles as part of a short course by the Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct.
More than 50 male and female public servants took part in the short course which was facilitated by Dr Orovu Sepo and who will provide ongoing mentoring in the workplace for 20 participants.
Two students from Kakar Island in Madang Province and the District Education Administrator Mr Poi Soss presented some perspectives from rural and remote areas, highlighting the impact of decision making at central government levels with the lives of young people in schools. This unique perspective was gained from a recent gender and education assessment conducted by Dr Jan Edwards who invited the girls to document through photos the positive and negative aspects of school life, particularly, infrastructure.
The Diversity in Leadership is one of the many short courses which will form part of the Precinct’s Executive Leadership Program.
Training institutions in PNG aim to model a new inclusive form of leadership through the Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct.
Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct stakeholders gathered this week in Port Moresby to discuss how the landmark leadership initiative would support women’s empowerment and social inclusion through its activities.
The proposed approach looks at building skills of students and staff, transforming institutions and workplaces through policies, quotas and networking, and addressing barriers to participation for the marginalized. In particular, the approach recognizes the real risks of gender-based violence for women and access to opportunities for people with a disability.
Key Precinct partners – UPNG, PNG Institute of Public Administration and the Department of Personnel Management – welcomed the proposed approach and indicated their commitment to the Precinct’s vision of equitable and inclusive leadership.
The meeting represented the beginning of a conversation on inclusive leadership and the start of new collaboration between UPNG’s School of Business and Public Policy, UPNG’s School of Humanities and Social Science, and the PNGIPA School of Government. UPNG’s Executive Dean Professor Betty Lovai attended the meeting as a champion of women’s empowerment with a strong emphasis on training and sensitizing the next generation of leaders with these values.