PAPUA New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill would be keen to see an Australian-run police training program extended, he told media following a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Mr O’Neill told reporters that he and Mr Abbott had discussed potential improvements to the Mekim Senis program, where 12 officers from the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary carry out a four-week placement with Australian police officers.
The program is coordinated by Australia’s national police force, the Australian Federal Police (AFP), but placements are made with the police forces of Australia’s states and territories.
“I have stressed to the Australian government that we are willing to engage on the expansion of that program, and we would be looking for the further development of the training program at Bomana and of course trying to get the AFP officers as line officers in our PNG police constabulary,” Mr O’Neill said.
“At the same time we want to increase the number of officers coming to train in Australia, possibly on a twinning arrangement which will enable our people to get exposure and of course further training in how to manage a more demanding police force than is required in our country.”
The most recent contingent of PNG police officers to take part in the program have been placed with the Queensland police service, with six to work in Cairns and the other six to work in Townsville.
The PNG officers range in rank from constable to inspector with five being police women. The officers have been selected from police stations in Port Moresby, Lae and Goroka.
The head of the AFP deployment in PNG, Assistant Commissioner Alan Scott, said it was important the placement program involved the state police forces.
“State police authorities have specialist and generalist skills that easily transfer into PNG police operations, such as police prosecutions and remote area policing,” he said.
“Placements into the Queensland Police have an added benefit [in that] the Criminal Code in PNG is based on the Queensland law.”
The Makim Senis placement project is wholly funded and managed by the Australian Federal Police through the PNG-Australia Policing Partnership (PNG-APP).
PNG-APP Project Manager Inspector John McGrath said he believed the opportunity to experience policing in Australia was invaluable to the learning being undertaken by members of the RPNGC in their own country.
“It makes the words and actions of their AFP mentors in-country come alive for them and they can see a way forward for operations in their own organisation,” he said.
Queensland Police, Far North District Officer, Acting Chief Superintendent Brett Schafferius also welcomed the PNG police officers, saying the partnership was an invaluable opportunity to work with and develop inter-agency relationships with officers from Australia’s near neighbour.
During their visit, the PNG officers also met with a group of 50 visiting PNG students carrying out a placement at the Cairns TAFE campus, where the groups discussed the differences in policing between Australia and Papua New Guinea, and the personal and professional benefits of their stay in Cairns.