Speech by the Australian High Commissioner at the opening of the PNG Law and Justice Sector Sports Day
9 February 2008; Sir John Guise Stadium, Port Moresby, PNG
Members of the NCM; Members of the Law and Justice Sector Working Group; Tournament Director, Moses Tolingling; Law and Justice Agency representatives; other staff, families and friends.
I would firstly like to thank the organisers for inviting me along today to officially open the fourth annual Law and Justice Sector Sports Day.
This annual event has only been held since 2005 but in this short period has grown considerably.
Back in 2005 only six agencies took part in just five sports. This year, I am pleased to see, ten agencies are competing encompassing over three hundred staff and family members in a wide variety of events.
Not least of which is the tug-of-war which I am told will be vigorously contested.
As I look around me here today I am reminded once again of just how passionate Papua New Guineans are about sport and what great competitors you all are.
One of the consistencies I see in my travel around this country is the love which Papua New Guineans have for sport.
It doesn’t matter what size the village or how remote, you never have to look too hard to find someone kicking a footy or playing netball or any of a range of other sports.
And what a great thing sport is on so many levels.
Beyond the obvious health and activity benefits, sport can teach us much about life.
It teaches us about teamwork, it teaches us how to get along with others, and it teaches us to work together to achieve a common goal.
It’s also about trust and responsibility and about dealing with success and failure.
Sport also helps us learn about coping with pressure and the need to stick with training in order to improve.
As well as the benefits to individuals, sports and physical activity also bring great benefits to communities through such things as improved health and education, rehabilitation, crime prevention, and gender equality.
Sporting activities also promote good governance and nation-building and provide an excellent vehicle to raise community awareness about HIV/AIDS. I know that the law and justice sector has been doing some excellent work to raise awareness and bring about action to address HIV/AIDS, including all the law and justice agencies developing workplace HIV policies – I commend you on this fine excellent initiative.
Another important aspect of sports is its ability to make people feel they are part of something.
In a survey done following the 2006 sector sports day, everybody interviewed said that “the event made them feel a part of the law and justice sector”.
Australia recognises the value of using sport as vehicle for development here in PNG.
Through the aid program we are supporting Strongim Komuniti Klab where grass roots team sports are being used in a pilot project to foster physical activity and a sense of community.
I was also recently pleased to be able to provide small grants to the Hohola Youth Boxing Club and the PNG Basketball Federation’s Training Program for Women.
As you know, Australia is also a sporting nation, with a significant percentage of the population playing or taking an active interest in sporting events. This love of sport is one of the many things we share with PNG.
Another thing that Australia shares with PNG is a common legal system. Both of our nations have inherited the common law system that underpins our democratic nations.
Australia is a proud supporter of the law and justice sector in PNG.
Each year we provide over 80 million Kina in recognition of the importance of a strong legal system to the rule of law, governance, security and the overall prosperity of PNG.
We work in strong partnership with the sector to help achieve the vision set out in PNG’s National Law and Justice Policy, of a just, safe and secure society for all.
We all know that there are many difficult law and justice issues facing PNG. The recent events in Mount Hagen have really shown us the magnitude of the law and order challenges facing PNG today.
But while the challenges are great, so is the commitment to find solutions.
I want to acknowledge all the good work done in the law and justice sector by you and also by your families.
A safe and law abiding community benefits everyone in PNG.
Everybody has a responsibility to work towards making communities safer. To achieve that goal all agencies in the sector need to work closely together.
This sports day is an excellent way to bring people together in a relaxed environment that will build lasting networks and friendships across the sector.
I congratulate the organisers and particularly the director Mr Tolingling and his assistant Lapi Kembos, the technical coordinators, and other members of the organising team who have done a great job in putting together today’s program.
And now it only leaves me to wish all competitors good luck and to declare the fourth annual Law and Justice Sector Sports Day open.
Australian High Commissioner to PNG, HE Mr Chris Moraitis