Deakin researchers to play leading role in PNG

The head of ADRI, Professor David Lowe, signs MoU with the head of the NRI, Dr Thomas Webster.

Professor David Lowe, Dr Thomas Webster and Richard Marles
Professor David Lowe, Dr Thomas Webster and Richard Marles

The Geelong-based Alfred Deakin Research Institute (ADRI) will work with Papua New Guinea’s National Research Institute (NRI) to help improve the quality of life of Papua New Guineans.

Last week, the head of ADRI, Professor David Lowe, signed an MoU with the head of the NRI, Dr Thomas Webster.

“It was a great opportunity for us to sign the MoU with Thomas,” Professor Lowe said.

“He had been visiting us for a week from what is PNG’s leading policy focussed think tank.

“We were also pleased to have our local member, Richard Marles, witness the signing.

“We know that like ADRI, Richard takes a great interest in the South Pacific.”

As well as being the local member for Corio, Marles is the Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs.

“PNG and the South Pacific region generally are some of the focal points of ADRI’s research agenda and they link to the related headings of leadership, development and governance,” Professor Lowe said.

“You might say that we embrace regional research in two ways as we are also building momentum around the social research needs of the greater Geelong region.”

The Memorandum of Understanding with the NRI will allow collaboration on three research projects:

• a multi-dimensional quality of life project that uses robust indices to measure quality of life at provincial and district, as well as national levels;
• a donor ranking index, evaluating the contributions of donor countries to PNG;
• and a study of life stories and the uses of history as a source of knowledge and empowerment for next generation leaders.

“We hope that these projects, which are already under way, will not only produce great research, but will widen opportunities for younger researchers in both Australia and PNG, and make a real difference both on the ground in PNG and also to the policies and practices that inform Australian-PNG relations,” Professor Lowe said.

“Both the NRI and ADRI are actively spotting ways to make their existing research grow in a manner that sustains and complements each other.”

Already, ADRI has taken some big steps in the focus on PNG. 

Senior Research Fellow Dr Jon Richie is preparing a biography of recently deceased former politician, Sir Ebia Olewale while he and David Lowe have recently given papers on the uses of history and life stories for Papua New Guineans.

Additionally, Professor Mark McGillivray has been working on indices measuring well being and measuring developmental progress in PNG. 

“It was while Alfred Deakin was prime minister of Australia that PNG became one of our country’s territories,” Professor Lowe said.

“Deakin’s speech to parliament at the time was both supportive, insightful and visionary about what lay ahead for PNG and what Australia must do to assist it.

“It is utterly appropriate then that the institute that bears his name should be continuing to work with Papua New Guineans to help develop their country, particularly with improving the quality of life in that country.”

For more information on ADRI

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