Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is Australia’s closest neighbouring country. Despite its proximity, however, a large gulf exists in the economic development of the two countries. Where Australia is in the top twenty wealthiest countries in the world; PNG is 178th. Caritas Australia is working on a wide range of issues in PNG, including improving health, empowering local communities, and strengthening institutions.

Traditional Fijian costumes
Key facts:
  • Programs


  • Partners


  • Population


  • Extreme poverty

    Poverty headcount ratio at $1.90 a day:

  • Data sources 

Why do we work in Papua New Guinea?

Papua New Guinea is situated directly to the north of Australia. Separated by the Torres Strait, PNG is less than 200 kilometres from the Australian mainland. Yet the two countries are far apart in terms of economic development.

  • Australians can expect to live nearly 20 years longer than Papua New Guineans.
  • Papua New Guinean women are 37 times more likely to die giving birth than Australian women.
  • Less than half the Papua New Guinean population has access to water that has been processed for safe drinking, something all Australians enjoy.

PNG’s society is culturally diverse. There are over 800 indigenous languages spoken in the country, most of which have fewer than 1,000 active speakers.

The rate of people living with HIV/AIDS in PNG is one of the highest in the Pacific. Yet, PNG’s rurally-based population has limited access to basic health services. This has an immense impact on the country’s overall health standard given that 87 percent of the population lives in rural areas (UN, 2011).

Our work in PNG

Caritas Australia is supporting 11 programs with 17 local partners in PNG. Our work covers a variety of issues including education, basic health and HIV/AIDS, and community empowerment.

Examples of our recent work

  1. A program was initiated in 2010/11 to ensure people in remote area of PNG have access to laboratory facilities to test for and treat HIV/AIDs, malaria and tuberculosis. Five laboratories have been upgraded in Madang Province and two in Southern Highlands Provinces to ensure better quality health outcomes. One laboratory will be upgraded in Simbu Province and another two in Western Highlands Province.
  2. Life skills training was provided to more than 300 vulnerable people, such as young people, people living with HIV/AIDS and prisoners and ex-prisoners. Trainees were empowered to be more self-reliant with the help of networking and organising skills.

Featured projects: