From 15-22 January 2016, The Voice Inc. PNG hosted the inaugural Nation Builder Conference that brought together 41 students completing the third level of The Voice Inc.’s Leadership Development Program at the University of Papua New Guinea and the Papua New Guinea University of Technology.
The aim of the conference was to build the network of like-minded young Papua New Guineans interested in impacting change in their communities and help equip them with the ideas, tools and knowledge they will need in their leadership roles. The participants produced this Outcomes Statement to share their thoughts on the priority national issues for Papua New Guinea to build a sustainable future.

The Voice Inc.

We, the young people of this nation believe that in order to build a sustainable future for our country the integral human development of every citizen must be at the forefront of our development priorities through providing equal opportunities for all people to realize their full potential.

We recognize the important role families play in building the values and moral principles of children therefore we believe that the family unit should be built on love, respect for each other and self discipline so that a strong foundation can be laid for the next generation.

We want to see a future where there is peace and harmony in our homes, communities and in every level of society. We see a nation where our leaders truly uphold the rule of law and the rights of our citizens are protected as enshrined in our Constitution. We believe in a future where every citizen lives out their basic social obligations as they contribute effectively to building the nation. We want to see young people actively contributing to their local, national and global communities.

We envision a future where our economy can manage and provide for the population through a green economy, which is built on our strategic assets such as our forests, marine life, water and the development of more small to medium enterprises (SME). We see a future where the wealth of our nation can pour into the lives of our people so as to improve their human development rather than on national expenditure that serves a small minority. We recognize that our people are a reflection of the strength of our nation therefore we believe that only in building up our rural areas can we have striving, safe and sustainable towns and cities.

In order to see this vision achieved we need visionary and transformational leaders who are willing to work hard with integrity and conviction. These leaders must stand on principles and values that are enshrined in our Constitution that put the interest of the nation before their own. They must be held accountable to the people of Papua New Guinea through strong democratic institutions.

In order to build this future we recommend the following:

1. Priority be given to Health and Education:

1.1 Education

  1. Reintroduce the concept of National High Schools as schools for excellence for the building of national unity and identity.
  2. High School curriculum should be expanded to include leadership development, political engagement and technical skills including financial literacy and practical skills to all students regardless of their strand of studies.
  3. There should be a review of the primary school education curriculum to ensure it is citizenship-centered based on ethics, respect and responsibility.
  4. Improvements to delivery of the education service must include supporting teachers both financially and through training and improved infrastructure that ensures equal access.
  5. We recommend that more technical and vocational institutions be established to produce more trades people.

1.2 Health

  1. Focus should be prioritized on creating safe spaces for all women and girls in towns and cities and funding should be prioritized for peer education programs in High Schools and Universities.
  2. Health service infrastructure and delivery should be improved to ensure access is equal to rural and urban populations including increasing the numbers of health workers and incentivizing them to work in rural health centers.

2. We must strengthen our institutions to ensure they are accountable and transparent.

  1. We recommend focusing on extending service delivery equally to all areas of the country with a strong focus on having effective implementation, independent monitoring and evaluation, auditing and by strong accountability and transparency mechanisms in all levels of government.
  2. We recognize that PNG has significant challenges in terms of research and data collection therefore we recommend strengthening the role of data collection in policy formulation to help track progress on achieving the targets set out in Vision 2050 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  3. We recommend that decentralization needs to be monitored with greater consultation for defining priorities for local and district development.
  4. There should be more awareness raised on the Constitution within the education curriculum and recommend that copies should be distributed nationwide to ensure all citizens are aware of the institutions of governance, service delivery and their rights in order to hold the government to account. We also recommend that it should be translated into our three national languages; Pidgin, English and Motu.

3. We must have a development approach that is people centered, environmentally friendly, socially just and economically viable.

  1. We recognize and affirm what the government is doing in investing in green and renewable sources of energy and recommend it continue to invest in innovative ways to generate clean energy to eliminate our carbon footprint.
  2. We recommend that there needs to be improved standards and quality management systems across all industries to maximise the potential of our commodities to be competitive internationally so we can penetrate the world markets. This in turn will help to support our subsistence farmers who rely on their cash crops for income generation.
  3. We recommend work needs to be done on mitigation and adaption to climate change to minimize the negative impact on people affected. The issue of climate induced resettlement cannot be ignored. We recommend the planning of specific-­‐ action based policies such as a relocation policy.
  4. We recommend that there must be quick government response to natural disasters within the country through improving the meteorological services within the country to monitor natural disasters.

4. We must strengthen our Culture and National identity.

  1. We recommend increased government funding to establish cultural centers in different towns and cities. Further to this we also recommend establishing museums that are not centered in one location but established in other regions of the country.
  2. We recommend that PNG history and legal studies be made compulsory to all students at secondary school level to ensure that our history is preserved for future generations.
  3. We recommend that cultural practices that are detrimental to human rights be abolished such as polygamy, sorcery and tribal violence.
Formulated by the Nation Builders in the Leadership Development Program, The Voice Inc.



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About the Author

Anna Kirk - Project Director, Aus-PNG Network - Lowy Institute

Anna Kirk

Project Director, Aus-PNG Network

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Anna Kirk was Research Fellow and Project Director of the Aus-PNG Network at the Lowy Institute, where her work focused on Australia’s relations with Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. Anna holds a Bachelor of International Studies from the University of Queensland, with majors in Peace and Conflict Studies and Spanish. Anna grew up in Port Vila, Vanuatu. During her undergraduate degree she spent a semester studying Spanish language at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. In 2013, Anna spent six months teaching English in Santiago, Chile.