END OF AN ERA OF KOKODA MISMANAGEMENT

Not a single management protocol was put in place by the Australian CEO during his three year tenure. There was no database; no campsite booking system; no trek itinerary management system; no campsite development program; no trail maintenance plan; no effective ranger system; or any development programs to assist local villagers in value-adding to the emerging industry.

The recent departure of the PNG CEO from the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) brings an end to a sorry saga of Australian mismanagement along the Kokoda Trail.

Prior to the arrival of Australian officials in 2008 the emerging Kokoda trekking industry was managed by Warren Bartlett, a former Kiap on a PNG salary of $12,500. During his tenure trekker numbers grew from 365 in 2002 to 5621 in 2008 – a massive increase of 1,440%. Bartlett had no staff but was assisted by a part-time local secretary.

Under a ‘Joint’ Understanding signed by the Australian and PNG Governments in 2008 Bartlett was replaced by an Australian CEO on an eye-watering six-figure salary by the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA).  He was provided with a 10-fold increase in staff numbers and a multi-million dollar budget.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), which has responsibility for our WW1 heritage at Gallipoli and the Western Front in Europe, was not included in the ‘Joint’ Understanding apart from the allocation of $1 million for unspecified purposes. There is no evidence of any of this money being allocated to the development of a Master Plan to protect and interpret our military heritage along the trail.

It is also remains unclear why DVA are responsible for our WW1 military heritage at Gallipoli and Environment/DFAT are responsible for our WW11 heritage at Kokoda.

After a decade insitu by DEWHA the results speak for themselves. Despite a conga-line of Australian environmental consultants and more than $60 million of taxpayers funds trekker numbers declined by 36% from 5621 in 2008 to 3597 in 2012. (more…)

Network Kokoda banks on PNGs MiBank

Network Kokoda has established a Memo of Understanding with PNGs MiBank to provide financial literacy training for the local community at our Sogeri Women’s Learning Centre.

MiBank is a grassroots financial institution licensed by the Bank of Papua New Guinea (BPNG) to provide a savings opportunity for subsistence villagers and small business people in the informal economy.

Our initial financial literacy course involved 24 women and two young men from Sogeri, Vesilogo, Owers Corner, Crystal Rapids and Sirinumu village areas.

Subjects covered included:

  • Savings: You can do it
  • Savings: What are they and why save?
  • Savings: How to set goals
  • Budgeting: Using money wisely
  • Importance of budgeting
  • How to make a budget
  • Mobile Banking: Understanding the benefits of MiCash

The course was facilitated by Mr Oggie Erehe, our Field Manager for Network Kokoda, and conducted under the auspices of Genevieve Daniels and Steve Ereman. Genevieve is the Manager – Digital Financial Services for MiBank.

The MOU provides for Network Kokoda to make our Sogeri Women’s Learning Centre available for training programs and market them to women living in villages on the Sogeri Plateau. We have agreed to provide accommodation and meals for all participants at our centre for the duration of each program as well as for instructors provided by MiBank.

Network Kokoda will also encourage our participants to register with a K30 fee for the course. This fee will be used to establish a MiBank account for each one and will be deposited in their account.

MiBank have agreed to provide financial literacy training, coaching and mentoring for our women’s groups in the surrounding villages on the Sogeri Plateau.

Financial literacy training is a welcome addition to our suite of programs which include English Literacy; Sewing (basic and advanced); cooking (basic and advanced); floral arrangements (to serve the hotel industry in Port Moresby); agriculture (basic, intermediate and advanced); and needlework.

Our graduation ceremony was a proud and emotional moment for us all and we look forward to continuing our relationship with the Sogeri community.