Visit PNG, Aussies told

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday 16th April 2013

 WORLD Vision chief executive officer Tim Costello is calling for more young Australians to visit Papua New Guinea to improve relations between the two countries.

Costello, who was in PNG for Australia Week, told a gathering of diplomats, politicians and business leaders that friendships were the “glue” that held the two countries together.

“Deep relationships, not governed as important as government is; not directed just because there is a profit to be made, are important as business is,” he said.

“People to people relationships, who actually take the time to understand each other’s culture and story and dreams and aspirations, and dream of the possibilities that can be.”

Costello added that more young Australians should consider going to Papua New Guinea.

His organisation is doubling its investment in PNG, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and East Timor to tackle poverty, and he wants some new thinking from Australians.

“The truth is that if we talk about poverty, people in Australia immediately think of an African child,” he said. 

“There’s poverty in the Pacific – there’s poverty in the Solomons and Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea and places where we work, and it’s a lot harder to raise money. 

“There seems to be a factor that the closer the country is to Australia, the less interest we have in it.”

World Vision already has 140 staff in Papua New Guinea.

As PNG’s resources boom picks up pace, more and more young Papua New Guineans are travelling to Australia to work or study but very few are going in the other direction.

Lavarah Haihavu, who studied in Newcastle, said:

“Papua New Guineans have this mind-set, they’re so into their culture – we tend to view that our way of doing things is better than other people’s way.

“But once we get the opportunity to mingle with other people, and especially with Australians, then our world view changes.”