Papua New Guinea
Latest assignments available
Program commenced: 1964
Total number of placements: 1458 (as of 20 July, 2011)
Number of current placements: 13 (as of 20 July, 2011)
AVI Programs: Volunteer Program, Macquarie University Partnership, AVI-VSO Partnership, Bougainville District Development Officers Project, Bougainville Medical Personnel Project, Bougainville Microfinance Project Phase 2, Bougainville Youth Soccer Training Project, Cross Regional Physiotherapy Mentoring Program, Drought Relief in Five Provinces Project, Ginigoada Foundation Project, Volunteer Graduate Program, Health Centre Reconstruction Project, Indigenous Womens Leadership Tour, M2006 Games Sport Development Volunteers, PACTAF, PNG - Tsunami Rehabilitation Project - Sandaun, PNG Bougainville Province Health & Reconstruction Personnel Project, PNG Computer Analyst Project, PNG Ombudsman Project Technical Monitoring & Review Group, Youth Program, Shallow Wells Construction Project, Tsunami Water and Sanitation Project, UNFPA Family Life Education and Development Project, United Nations Volunteer Program, Volunteer Medical Personnel Project
Papua New Guinea is one of our closest neighbours, the mainland consisting of the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, the west part being West Papua, part of Indonesia. Once Australian territory and still a member of the Commonwealth, PNG became independent in 1975.
Papua New Guinea is incredibly culturally diverse, with over 850 indigenous languages. It is also highly biodiverse, being one of the earth's megadiverse regions. PNG is a very mountainous and natural resource rich nation, though there are concerns over deforestation and pollution from mining projects.
With around 40% of the population living in poverty and the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the region, PNG faces some tough development challenges.
Contact our Papua New Guinea program office.
PNG's socio-economic position has been ranked lower than all other Pacific countries (as measured by the Human Development Index).
Despite an abundance of natural resources, it is estimated that more than 42 per cent of the population live on less than US$1 a day. Fortunately, employment rose sharply across most sectors in 2006. Nevertheless, urban unemployment remains very high. Complicating matters further is that wealth and prosperity is not equally distributed throughout PNG.
PNG's educational system itself is also a source of concern. Only an estimated 57 per cent of the population are literate and school enrolment levels trail below the average for all low income states. There is also a wide gender disparity at the secondary and tertiary levels of education.
For up-to-date information and statistics on socio-economic development issues in Papua New Guinea, please refer to the following sources:
UNDP in PNG
World Bank - PNG Country Brief
Asian Development Bank - PNG Country Information
Many health indicators in PNG have deteriorated in recent years. One of the main reasons for this is the major shortage in trained medical personnel. This situation is exasperated by the fact that the population of PNG is dispersed across a vast area and numerous islands - making it even more difficult to provide cost effective health services to the isolated areas and outer islands.
HIV/AIDS has also become a major issue in PNG. It has been identified as a major threat to the development of the nation, with the country becoming the fourth country in the Asia-Pacific region (the first Pacific country) to have a generalised HIV epidemic.
For up-to-date information and statistics on health and HIV/AIDS in Papua New Guinea, please refer to the following sites:
WHO Papua New Guinea country profile
UNAIDS page on Papua New Guinea
PNG has suffered from some serious environmental problems since the start of its economic development. Some of the most pressing issues include deforestation, species extinction, land degradation and pollution.
Forests cover about 65 per cent of the total land area of PNG. Large expanses of this forest area are harvested annually from poor logging operations. As PNG loses its forest, plant and animal diversity is also threatened. A large amount of PNG's forested area is tropical rainforest that is rich in both plant and animal biodiversity, increasing the impact of deforestation on flora and fauna. Unsustainable hunting is also an issue that has threatened a number of species in PNG.
Water pollution is mainly caused by manufacturing activities, illegal dynamite fishing in most coastal areas and dumping of tailings by mining companies into rivers. Coastal villages in most parts of the country also contribute to pollution by dumping household wastes into the ocean. Land pollution is mainly caused by disposal of solid and household wastes.
For further information, please refer to the following resources:
World Bank - PNG Environment Statistics (pdf)
Papua New Guinea Country Report (pdf) (Presented to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific at the Third Sub-regional Training Workshop on Environment Statistics)
Read Dame Carol Kidu's article on PNG's community development vision