James Cook University and the Government of Papua New Guinea have formalised a research partnership with the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement at JCU Cairns.


The Memorandum outlines the way in which JCU (represented by The Cairns Institute) and the PNG Government (represented by the Department for Community Development) plan to work together on 18 research projects worth $5.5M.


“This is an exciting agreement, and the culmination of two year’s collaboration and discussion between Cairns and PNG,” Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr Stephen Weller said.


“It is based on our mutual interest in enhancing life in the tropics and it will see The Cairns Institute applying its expertise, research and scholarship to issues of great importance to our nearest neighbour.”


Director of the Cairns Institute, Professor Hurriyet Babacan, said the Memorandum outlined the underlying principles of the research partnership, which included mutual respect, joint decision making and two-way learning.


PNG’s Secretary of the Department for Community Development, Mrs Anna Solomon, will sign the agreement. She will be accompanied on her visit to Cairns by the Department’s Deputy Secretaries Mrs Molly Willie and Mr Leo Kulumbu, First Assistant Secretary Mr Jack Simbau, as well as three other senior officers.


Professor Babacan said the Department for Community Development (DFCD) had prioritized two research projects for 2012–13.


Professor Babacan will lead a study of the nature and extent of disability in PNG.


Associate Professor Wendy Earles will investigate ways to improve information flow and analysis at a community level, in a project centred on information utilisation at PNG’s Community Learning and Development Centres.


“The DFCD’s primary function is to develop policies and legislation that promote community development,” Dr Babacan said.


“The Cairns Institute’s focus is on scholarship and research that will build a brighter future for the peoples of the tro pics. This is an exciting partnership for us all.”


Professor Babacan said more than 45 JCU researchers were involved in projects covered by the Memorandum of Agreement.


“We are working with PNG researchers, professionals and community leaders, forging long-lasting partnerships on projects that will make a difference,” Professor Babacan said.