Career and Work Language and Culture

Life as an Australia Awards recipient at Griffith University

Griffith University is home to students from a diverse range of backgrounds. Each year thousands of new international students start their journey with us at Griffith International. We are also lucky enough to host Australia Awards participants through a range of programs, all managed by the International Business Development Unit within Griffith International.

Australia Awards PNG recipients take part in Harmony Day celebrations at Griffith University Logan campus. Linda Dentana (interviewee) is second from the left.

One program currently being held at Griffith University Logan campus is the Australia Awards Papua New Guinea Graduate Certificate in Counselling and Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

The course is designed for representatives from the Government of PNG and employees of universities and the NGO and civil society sector, who are involved in the provision of counselling services in PNG.

I was lucky enough to sit down with two participants, Philip So’on Assistant Secretary in Guidance and Counselling at the PNG Department of Education and Linda Dentana Senior Probation Officer at the Department of Justice and Attorney General, Community Based Corrections Branch to discuss the counselling program and their time in Australia so far.

Australia Awards recipient Philip So’on enjoys Harmony Day celebrations on the Logan campus.

What’s been your highlight of the program so far?

Philip: My favourite aspect of the program is the learning style and activities that we have been involved in. The course isn’t just about lectures, we are also involved in group activities and I find that as an adult, having a more hands-on style helps me to better understand the concepts presented.

Each Friday we partake in assessment training where we develop guidelines to learn how to facilitate different aspects of our training in real-life scenarios. During this time, we learn facilitation skills and how to develop training materials.

Linda: For me, the whole experience has been a unique and interesting journey. I now have a better understanding of the frameworks and theories of counselling, understand the western style of counselling and know how to incorporate my learnings back at home.

It has been especially eye-opening learning the names of practices that I have been using but haven’t understood the theories behind them.

How will this graduate certificate assist your work back in PNG?

Philip: During our studies, we are developing a Return to Work Plan to implement upon our return to work in PNG. I would eventually like to start my own business, however, the skills I develop will also assist me in my current role with the Department of Education.

We are currently working with schools to better develop counselling services for students across the country. With over one million students in PNG, this is a massive task and my new skills and experience will assist my department to better manage these needs.

Linda: As a probation officer, I work closely with mandated clients on a daily basis. This course has provided me with the means to better understand my clients and to know which counselling approaches will be the most appropriate for each person.

Are there any thoughts you would like to add about being an Australia Awards recipient?

Philip: As a participant in this first of its kind program, I believe that this Australia Awards Short Course is a great program for PNG. It was fantastic to work together as a group and be taught as a cohesive unit. Having the group environment full of like-minded people allows me to feel as though I can speak freely with others to learn and share concerns.

Linda: I am very grateful to the Australian Government for providing the opportunity for us to come here under the Australia Awards. Counselling is a fairly new profession in PNG, and we don’t have it as a standalone disciple that you can learn at university. With this graduate certificate, we are now equipped to help grow the sector and help our communities.

The Australia Awards PNG group studying counselling are expected to graduate from the program in October 2019 during a Post Course Workshop held in PNG.

The Australia Awards PNG recipients finished the first block of their training on 22 March 2019. The group will return in May to continue the second half of their course at Griffith University Logan campus.

To find out more about the Australia Awards visit Australia Awards PNG.

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