The Papua New Guinea and Australian Departments of Finance signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2014 to work more closely and cooperatively in sharing knowledge and building policy and operational skills. As a result in 2015 two officers from the Department had the opportunity to join the annual Department of Finance Australia graduate program.
Adrian Babo and Takili Muk were the first Department staff to participate in the program. They spent nine months with 25 graduates who had been recruited to work in the Department of Finance, Canberra. There are currently a further two Papua New Guinea Department of Finance staff participating in the full twelve month program in 2016, Ms Doris Marasembi and Ms Joyce Nindil.
Adrian Babo shares some of his experiences. He had not travelled outside Papua New Guinea before and found differences in everything and definitely feels he experienced culture shock. He was surprised at how many people both at work and in the community were familiar with Papua New Guinea. Quite a number of his colleagues and friends had visited or previously lived in PNG during Australia’s Administration pre independence. There were many Papua New Guinea artefacts on display in the office which he believed showed the close relationship between Australia and PNG.
The Department of Finance in Canberra runs the twelve month graduate program every year for graduates joining the Department. Graduates are provided with learning and development opportunities, support from a Career and Professional Development Coordinator and a buddy to ease their transition to the department. There are also networking opportunities with senior leaders and graduates from other agencies, as well as meeting portfolio ministers and the opportunity to join any of the Department networks.
Whilst Adrian missed family and friends and found the cold weather challenging, he appreciated his Canberra colleagues’ warm welcome and their support in helping him settle in. He feels privileged to have had the opportunity to participate in the program – for example he experienced the Australian national budget preparation and watched its approval by Parliament, he was part of the team that prepared the annual financial statements and was also part of a team that developed the charging policy framework, experiencing how policy was developed from start to finish.
He considers his key learning included:
- seeing in action the value of the effective use of information communication technology (ICT)
- witnessing the benefit of having honest/or frank conversations amongst officers during meetings or discussions.
- developing increased confidence in public speaking/presentation skills
- developing public policy
- preparing consolidated financial reports on a timely basis
- and generally how to conduct oneself in a professional working environment
Since returning from Canberra, Adrian has been proud to see developments and changes in the Department of Finance PNG, that have been driven by Secretary Dr Ken Ngangan. He is also part of the Department’s Young Leader Network (YLN) (see separate News item), which is one of the Secretary’s initiatives.