21 young leaders in the Kokoda Track Foundation’s (KTF) Archer Leadership Development Program travelled to Australia and have undergone work experience based on their different fields of study or professions.
The trip to Australia and work placement is just one component of KTF’s Archer Leaders program that provides the opportunity to travel to Australia to undergo work experience and to meet inspiring leaders from all walks of life.
The Archer Leadership Development Program is an annual program for final year tertiary students in Papua New Guinea (PNG) who have shown leadership potential and the desire to serve their communities and country as young leaders.
The program helps selected participants to grow and develop in their leadership capabilities.
KTF guides the Archer Leaders on their leadership journey, supporting them throughout the year with mentoring, tuition and boarding fees support, education and professional development resourcing, work experience and assistance to implement community projects in a community of choice.
The recent exchange trip was part of the program, but due to COVID-19 lockdowns, the exchange program for the Archer leaders of cohorts 2020 and 2021 had to be put on hold till this year when borders opened.
Thus the 2020 and 2021 cohorts were able to travel with the 2022 cohort to Sydney, Australia.
All cohorts had an opportunity to participate in two days of work experience in organisations relating to their areas of study (for those in 2022) or profession (for those in 2020 and 2021).
The young leaders joined law firms, hospitals, veterinary clinics, chemistry labs, NGOs, mining and engineering headquarters, reserve banks and news studios right across Australia’s east coast during their exchange.
Six of the Archer Leaders spent two days in Brisbane with Newcrest Mining visiting and engaging with mining engineering experts as well as mining Ph.D. candidates from the University of Queensland.
The trip was jam-packed and allowed for the students to meets with leaders in both public and private sectors.
The young leaders also had the honour of visiting the parliament chambers of the New South Wales Parliament House and meeting with a Member of Parliament.
Peterson Mathius, an Archer Leader from the 2020 cohort and a person living with disability shares his experience about the trip.
“The immersion trip to Sydney was one of the best moments of my life. KTF taught about ‘getting out of your comfort zone’.
This was the real deal for me. My travel from Port Moresby to Sydney and my stay in Australia was an eye-opening experience for me.
I was amazed at how great accessibility was for me as a person in a wheelchair. I was able to easily get around all of Sydney – along footpaths, on busses, trains and ferries.
It was exciting to see the amazing structure of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
Not only that but the group had rare access to the NSW Parliament via a tour delivered by Greens Party MP Mr Jamie Parker.
The highlight of my experience was my work experience placement with Mr. Sebastián De Brennen, a criminal lawyer and Barrister.
As a newly admitted lawyer in PNG, I was so happy that I was engaged with a highly qualified person in line with my profession as a lawyer. I was so enthusiastic to learn about a new jurisdiction. I
learned that they have the different court system and different procedures to process the criminal proceedings and also different legal structure.
Mr. Brennan facilitated access to a Court Room (Community Justice Court) to witness one of his case presentations on a sentencing hearing.
We won the case and it was an emotional moment not only for the convict and his family but I too was emotional and happy that it was a success and justice was served. It was an experience I will never forget.”
Being a person living with disability, Peterson knew that the trip would have other advantages as well. His community had thought he would never succeed in life or to get to where he is now, but he has defied that.
“The trip also had an impact on how my community views me. As an individual living with a disability, people in my community thought that I had no future and had no place to go. But now, I have a story to tell. This trip has totally changed my community’s perspective of me and that has given me extra confidence to build the status that they thought I didn’t have. I would like to say to everyone out there, that if they have a person living with disability in their family or community, do not ignore the ability that he or she has. It only requires kindness and support from everyone that will encourage him or her to take another step forward in life.”
Now that the young leaders have returned home to PNG, they will start to plan their own community development projects alongside completing their studies.
Applications for the 2023 Archer Leadership Development Program will be open in December.
The program is made possible with generous funding made available by the Fred P Archer Trust, managed by Perpetual and an increased continued commitment from Newcrest Mining