Farewell from Papua New Guinea
6 June 2011
The people of Lae, Papua New Guinea, farewelled the members of Pacific Partnership 2011 (PP11) on 31 May at a ceremony filled with colour, music and dancing at Igam Barracks.
Dignitaries from the Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Filipino governments attended the ceremony along with the Chief of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) and senior officials from the Papua New Guinea Police Force, Australian Defence Force (ADF) and United States (US) Defence Force.
The ceremony commenced with the inspection of a PNGDF honour guard by the mission commander, Captain Jesse Wilson, United States Navy. The official party then walked behind traditional dancers and between rows of children throwing flowers.
The partner nations of Pacific Partnership, Australia, Canada, France, Spain and United States of America, worked alongside local providers and members of the PNGDF to provide medical, dental and veterinary care, build schoolrooms and install water tanks throughout the province. Information exchanges also took place between local practitioners and Pacific Partnership members.
This mission builds upon the strong relationship already present between ADF and PNGDF. Under the auspices of the Defence Cooperation Program, the Australian Government is providing significant assistance to the PNGDF with 24 ADF members posted to the Force.
"This mission has given us the opportunity to further those relationships, work alongside our PNGDF and US counterparts to provide assistance to communities and in some cases renew old friendships,” said Commander Ashley Papp, commander Australian Contingent, PP11.
The Governor of Morobe Province, Luther Wenge, thanked everyone for coming to the ceremony and for their participation in PP11.
“Your assistance and help to the people of the city of Lae has been invaluable. We have greatly appreciated you coming to Papua New Guinea and hope to see you back here again very soon,” Mr Wenge said.
Doctors, dentists, engineers and veterinarians from Pacific Partnership partner nations and non-government agencies sat with local residents of Lae as their efforts over the past 12 days were recognised through speeches and an exchange of gifts.
During their brief stay in Papua New Guinea, the people of PP11 treated almost 11,000 medical patients including 850 dental patients, handed out over 6,000 pairs of glasses, attended over 100 animals, built classrooms, toilets, and supplied mains power to local buildings.
Pacific Partnership 2011 is an annual Humanitarian Civic Assistance program sponsored by the Commander US Pacific Fleet.
The deployment aims to develop the ability of the ADF to operate in close cooperation with its military colleagues from the US, New Zealand and other military and non-military participants, and to improve the way of life for Australia’s Pacific neighbours.
Since commencing in April 2011 PP11 has delivered engineering, medical and veterinary aid to Tonga, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. After a brief stop in Darwin, the mission will continue to East Timor and the Federated States of Micronesia.
Further information on Pacific Partnership is available at: http://www.defence.gov.au/opEx/exercises/pp11/and http://www.facebook.com/ADFPacificPartnership.