Australia is often a preferred study destination for those seeking beautiful scenery, quality education, great food and a myriad of opportunities. For Papua New Guinea academic Gigil Marme, his study journey in Australia began back in 2016 when he arrived in the country to study a Master of Public Health at Griffith University’s South Bank campus.
Like many international students, Gigil felt that his time in Australia was too short and wished to return for further studies and exploration. A perfect opportunity arrived for him to fulfil his dream through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade funded Australia Awards PNG program. Gigil was fortunate enough to be selected as part of an experienced cohort of health care professionals from across PNG. Not only was Gigil selected to be a part of the cohort, he was also nominated as one of the group leaders for the duration of the program.
The group is studying a Graduate Certificate of Health Economics on Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus. The program has been designed to meet the increasing demand for quantitative and analytical skills in the decision-making processes of the PNG healthcare sector.
Working as the Head of Department and a Lecturer of Public Health Leadership and Training at Divine Word University, Gigil teaches undergraduate health management and public health to aspiring health practitioners.
The Australia Awards short course provided Gigil with a chance to return to Australia, but more significantly, will help boost PNG’s health sector once the participants return with new skills, knowledge and crucial networks from across PNG and Australia.
The participants are spending plenty of time on the Gold Coast to experience the learning opportunities that Australia has to offer. From participating in lectures and workshops, to visiting nature and theme parks, and conducting field visits to health hot spots such as the Gold Coast Primary Health Network.
Gigil said that the course will help the recipients to implement drastically needed improvements to the PNG health sector upon returning home from the program.
‘My concern as an academic is the inadequate management of the health care systems in PNG. If we have a well-functioning health care system, there will be optimal health outcomes. Currently, I believe the health system is not managed to its full potential and therefore there is a need to train health managers with relevant skills and knowledge to manage the health systems’, he said.
About the study, Gigil says: ‘I am looking forward to learning more about economic models that can be applied in health economics and those of particular relevance to my work back in PNG. I am really enjoying having the opportunity to go on site visits which enable us to see how the theoretical concepts in the textbooks are practically applied in the workplace.’
Upon finding out about the Griffith University Australia Awards short course, Gigil said that he saw it as a great opportunity to return to Australia to improve upon his skills once more.
‘From the general everyday atmosphere to people’s behaviour and academic life, I found everything so well organised and logical [in Australia]. The country offers a wonderful opportunity for me to develop my mind to think logically. I also love the level of respect for others and the cleanliness I found in Australia. Everything from the transport systems, shopping malls, footpaths, and grocery store options are all fantastic.‘
‘Australia is truly a beautiful country’ he enthused.
Gigil and the Australia Awards Health Economics cohort will be on the Gold Coast until August, so you may just see them hanging out around campus or up at Nathan for a visit.