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Contributed Papers Presented at Papua New Guinea Mini-Conference on National Youth Service - Youth In National Development:  (conference proceedings)
Conference Facilitator, George H. Wrondimi
Hon David Unagi, MP, Minister for Home Affairs
Hon Bill Skate, MP, Governor of National Capital District
Hon David Unagi, MP, Minister for Home Affairs

It gives me great pleasure as the Minister responsible for youth affairs to officiate on this occasion to mark the opening of the Mini Youth Conference on National Youth Service in Papua New Guinea. I see this as a historical occasion as it marks the beginning of a new era in the work of youth development in this country.

Next week Papua New Guinea and in particular my ministry will play host to an important gathering of academics, senior executives, researchers and policy makers in the field of youth affairs and development around the globe.

The conference theme, "A GLOBAL IDEA FOR LOCAL ACTION" in itself presents a challenge for all of us to consider appropriate local action that will meaningfully translate prevailing global ideas. The enhancement of any global ideas can only be materialised at local level provided the local resource capacity such as manpower, technology and monetary situation can accommodate the scope of implementation.

I believe the current reform at the local level will facilitate that process. I was privileged to have earlier held on the Ministry of Provincial Affairs and Local Level Government. That portfolio gave me the insight to understand the reform process that will affect the well-being of PNG citizens.

However, instead of us being bombarded with the issues of young people worldwide, this conference over the next few days will give us the opportunity to reflect on the issues of our young men and women in the country. In particular it should be the opportunity for us to suggest meaningful strategies that will guide the deployment of our resources towards assisting our young people.

At the outset, I wish to point out to you all that in the last few years, government efforts to assist young men and women, especially the out of school youth to meaningfully take part in the nation's development has been on the decline.

This is mainly attributed to the lack of a clear vision, realistic forward planning and lack of financial support. It was further hampered by the youth network's dependability on government grants as it's main source of support.

Lack of self reliance and sustainability within the youth network is evident given the short comings in our country's economic situation. This has resulted in the collapse of our youth network in many of our provinces as you are all aware.

It is therefore imperative that this situation must be reversed if we are to constructively involve our young people in the main stream of development.

To kick start that process, the National Youth Policy has been revised and is now awaiting the National Executive Council's endorsement. It is my sincere hope that the presentations and the discussions that takes place in this conference will form part of the basis of the implementation plan of the revised policy when endorsed by NEC.

With the reforms beginning to take place in the provinces, this conference is also very timely. It will give all of you an opportunity to share your experiences as to how best the National Youth Service, Non Government Organisations, Churches, the Private sector, International Development Agencies and the Provincial Administrative machinery can combine your efforts in the delivery of services to all sectors of the community.

Because the Revised Youth Policy is consistent with the reforms, I have no doubt that the resolutions of this conference will become part and parcel of the five year youth development plan my Ministry intends to put in place beginning in 1997.

I therefore call upon all the agencies, present here today to be part of the Post Conference Action Plan.

My government has declared 1996 the Year of Law Enforcement. The enforcement of law must not be seen as a threat to citizens rights and abuse of constitutional freedom, especially towards the youth. It will have to be seen in the context of both the government and citizens working hand in hand to combat the escalating law and order problems.

In close liaison with the Police Ministry, my Ministry will make it our duty to ensure that youths should not be necessarily targeted as trouble makers. Instead they should be given ample opportunity to participate in programmes geared towards good police and community relations.

Let me further qualify this statement by saying that not all social problems are caused by young people. The older people especially fathers and mothers also contribute largely to this nations welfare problems too. There are lots of young people out in the streets because they were neglected by their parents.

The degree of corruption amongst leaders should not be swept under the carpet. A good number of political leaders, constitutional office holders, and senior public servants have been implicated and also found guilty of misconduct in office.

In view of the reforms; my Ministry through the National Youth Service will make sweeping changes to the traditional approaches in the planning coordination and delivery of youth programmes. This will also include changes to the National Youth Services Act to reflect the new role and functional responsibilities in relation to the provinces.

For the future, more emphasis will be given to local level planning and programming. No longer will my Ministry be designing and dishing out nationally programmed and packaged youth activities. It will instead be standing by to assist provinces in the areas where our services are required and to monitor the implementation of the National Youth Policy.

This approach calls for an immediate review at the capacity of the local level administration. For too long community based organisations such as churches, NGOs and community development groups have been left out in both the planning as well as the delivery of government's youth programmes at the local level. This trend must change if we will truly want to make an impact on our young people.

It is therefore imperative that community based organisations in the post conference action plan must be part of our planning and delivery mechanism at all levels, if this plan is to be implemented successfully.

I would also like to take this opportunity to emphasis that no longer must we in Papua New Guinea measure the success of implementation by the amount of grants we are giving out for community projects. We should instead measure our successes and performances by the impact our plans, resources and programmes are having on our standard of living, law and order, economy productivity and the prosperity of our nation.

The measurement of successes based on the handing out of grants has only blind folded us in our efforts and the handout culture has taken a strong foothold in this country. This view therefore calls for a revolution in youth work in this country.

Whereas the young people for the past decade have been treated as a segregated group in the community, the reality is that young men and women are very much part of our families and must submit to the norms and value system inherent in our traditions. They must respect the traditional leadership and authorities of the village and settlement communities.

Any new approaches we choose to pursue in the future must make use of our customs and value system that upholds and promotes respect, unity and instil a sense of discipline in our young men and women. We cannot leave this responsibility to school teachers, law enforcement officers or social workers. These are our parental responsibilities.

The point I am making is that our approaches to youth work of the future must be centred on our families as the most basic institution for framing and nurturing the young people for the future.

I would therefore like to invite agencies such as the UNICEF and UNFPA, Churches, Scouts and Girl Guides to collaborate with my Ministry at the national and local government level to assist in planning and packaging good programmes that will contribute meaningfully to the development of youth within their own family circles.

At the political level the usual trend of action in the past has been to make sweeping changes to existing policies and structures. However the challenge before me is not to make such changes for the sake of political expediency. Should there be any need to warrant such changes, it has to be concrete and purposeful.

In this context the Revised Youth Policy, Revised National Youth Service Act and the Resolutions of this mini conference will be the political agenda I will take on Board before the National Executive Council and Parliament for adaptation and execution.

And finally may I take this opportunity to welcome you all to this conference and I look forward to receiving the final report and recommendations of this conference.

It is now my distinct pleasure to formally declare this conference officially open.

Hon David Unagi, MP, Minister for Home Affairs, Papua New Guinea


Hon Bill Skate, MP, Governor of National Capital District

It gives me great pleasure and honour to have been invited to share with you a few thoughts about our young people.

Before I do that, let me take this opportunity to firstly welcome you all to this beautiful city of ours. I am sure you will enjoy your stay here during the next few days and the following week for those who will remain for the 3rd Global Youth Conference on National Youth Service.

Whilst you all come from different background and wealth of experiences from many years of involvement with the youth of your respective provinces and communities, we here in the nation's capital too have attempted to address our young people's needs in our own little ways.

In line with one of the objectives of this conference that is to discuss local issues affecting young people in order to come up with an action plan for their future, I wish to challenge each and everyone of us here tonight to firstly ask yourself some basic questions. What have I tried to do for the youth of my village, community and nation during the past 10 years, what have I got to contribute to this gathering, and what am I going to take out from it to bring back to them?

You see, when I first assumed the responsibility as the Governor of this Capital City, those were the very questions which challenged me as well.

I looked at the National Governments involvement and contribution to Youth Development in this city and realised that it had none at all.

I also found out that the Churches and NGO groups had some activities going for the young people, but they had inadequate resources to effectively achieve the goals and objectives of those programmes.

In addition, there was lack of collaboration, partnership, participation and co-ordination between the different sectors involved in youth development, which of course included my Commission.

I saw that the young people were not fully involved in participating in activities which could meaningfully contribute towards their welfare and well-being, as well as in the general growth of their respective communities and the city at large.

So I took the challenge head on and committed the Commission with an initial funding of one million kina (K1,000,000.00) under the social development committee to kick-start a new programme of re-organising, restructuring and re-directing the Commission's existing youth activities to directly address their needs with full commitment and not just word of mouth.

The rest of what happened next I will leave it to the youth themselves and their leaders from NCD to share with you as you continue in your deliberations during the next few days.

Whilst the results of all our efforts may not always be fruitful and positive, the impact it has on the community is always a reflection of how much we can do in our capacities as politicians, bureaucrats, church ministers and community workers.

In that juncture, let me also mention that there is now an urgent need for us to review our approaches and strategies in youth development, and look at the family and the community as the foundation upon which any future youth policy and programme must be built.

Rather than segregating and separating them from their communal support network and social systems, let us put resources into these structures and social systems to plan and control their own youth activities.

I believe this approach is the only way which allow the youth to meaningfully contribute towards their families and communities.

It will also allow for the village elders and community leaders to once again exercise their full authority and control over the activities of their young people instead of law enforcing authorities.

This is the right time to take that approach as it appropriately falls in line with the spirit of the current political and administrative reform processes.

The reform emphasise the transfer and relocation of major decision making and planning functions to the local level governments. Youth development work must also be redirected to follow that direction as well.

One program I want to share with you all is the city rangers activities which was started by the community at Sabama and Kaugere together with police community relations, NGO, village court, and funded by the NCDC. Such programs must have "POLITICAL SUPPORT". I allocated K200,000 over the last 10 months on this programme, getting their uniforms from Indonesia, Bicycles, fortnightly allowances of K12,000 for 40 groups on various locations and allocation of six (6) tipper trucks to carry out the cleaning programs.

The City Rangers is a unique program in South Pacific and in PNG. Many provinces are suggesting to me that they want the scheme to start in other provinces.

As we are here to share our experiences and thoughts, to shape up a new action plan for the youth in this country, I hope my brief comments will be of some contribution towards that important exercise.

I shall be looking forward to receiving a copy of whatever resolutions you will come up with in order to ensure that our efforts in NCD are not inconsistent with the rest of you.

With those few remarks, I now invite you to enjoy your dinner and the hospitality which the youth and people of NCD and Central Province have jointly provided for your enjoyment.

Thank you all and I wish you all the best in your conference deliberations.

Hon Bill Skate, MP, Governor of National Capital District


To read other papers return to Conference Table of Contents

GEORGE H. WRONDIMI, Conference Facilitator

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