With the aim of understanding the complex challenges of disability in Papua New Guinea, the UNSW Institute for Global Development (IGD) and the UNSW Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) have been working closely with the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office.

During 10-15 February 2024, representatives from the IGD and the SPRC conducted a joint scoping mission to Papua New Guinea. They were hosted by the United Nations Resident Coordinator of Papua New Guinea, Dr.  Richard Howard, and engaged in discussions with representatives from disabled-peoples' organisations, UN agencies, academia, and development partners.

This mission built upon groundwork that has been laid over the past two years, in close consultation with the UN, on disability-inclusive development in Papua New Guinea.

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Meg and Bingqin with Joe, manager of the sheltered workshop supported by PNG Assembly of Disabled People. The workshop was set up in the 1980s. It is dependent on grant money so programming is ad hoc. They currently have 5 active participants.
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Teachers at Cheshire Disability Services in early intervention classroom for students aged 7-16 years old.


In May 2023, a UNSW delegation visited Papua New Guinea, hosted and facilitated by Richard Howard. Potential strategic issues and opportunities that could shape a substantive knowledge partnership between the UN and UNSW were identified. A consistent underlying issue raised throughout the visit and various discussions is the long-standing concern about availability and quality of data and analysis.

In July 2023, UNSW hosted a visit of the UN PNG Resident Coordinator, Richard Howard. The IGD coordinated meetings with a variety of UNSW institutes and faculties across Sydney and Canberra.

Following this, in August 2023, a UNSW delegation (including members from the IGD, the UNSW School of Systems & Computing, and the Capability Systems Centre) travelled to PNG to curate the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) Retreat on “Converging on Joint Understanding of Context and Strategic Imperatives in PNG”. At this retreat, disability emerged as a key theme, with the IGD bringing together a cross-faculty group of UNSW’s disability inclusion experts to map disability support and inclusion in Papua New Guinea.

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Dinner with Dr Pamela Kamya, Vice President - Research, Divine Word University.
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Consultations with PNG Assembly of Disabled People and Youth with Disability.


In September 2023, the IGD and UNSW SPRC presented at an ad-hoc UNCT Meeting on “Disability Inclusion and Development in Papua New Guinea”, convened by the UN PNG Resident Coordinator’s Office. The meeting aimed to advance the implementation of the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy and support a convergent approach to the systematic embedding of disability action into programming and the Cooperation Framework, as well as internally in the UN workplace.

Key areas for action in PNG identified in the ensuing discussion included (among others) a need to assess the impact of intergenerational trauma, spur conversation around disability, improve links to disabled people’s organisations (DPOs), and assess the link between disability, children and gender-based violence (GBV).

In December 2023, UNSW co-hosted the UN Meeting on Disability Inclusion Mapping & Action Plan. There was a better understanding among participants about how disability relates to various aspects of their work across Papua New Guinea. The UN-RCO proposed and UN agencies accepted that working with UNSW would help converge agencies on a systemwide program on disability action.

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Debriefing dinner with UN RCO.
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Dinner hosted by UN RCO Richard Howard with honoured guest Dr. Ipul Powaseu, founding member of PNG Assembly of Disabled People.


At a country level, the support from IGD has helped the UN adjust their strategic priorities to better reflect local needs. At a regional level, the knowledge partnership with UNSW has empowered the United Nations Development Coordination Office, Regional Office – Asia and the Pacific (UN DCO-ROAP) to champion context-specific concerns. We look forward to continuing our accompaniment of disability-inclusive research and action on disability in Papua New Guinea.