Australia's global connections - Papua New Guinea

Topic: A diverse and connected world
Learning Activity
Schools & Teachers
Stage 3

Students explore countries of the Asia region and the connections Australia has with other countries across the world. 

Student Activities

Introducing Papua New Guinea

Students locate Australia and Papua New Guinea and explore aspects of distance, historic links and current relationships.

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The Pacific war

Students view and analyse images of connections between Australia and Papua New Guinea. They draw conclusions about the connections that are represented.

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Post Second World War

Students view and analyse contemporary images of Papua New Guinea. They answer questions relating to the connection Papua New Guinea has with Australia including the provision of aid.

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Australia's investment relationship with Papua New Guinea

Using the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country fact sheet on foreign investment and trade students  analyse the data and complete three tasks. 

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Connections between Australia and Papua New Guinea

Students examine the historic relationship between Papua New Guinea and Australia and explore opportunities for future connections between the two countries.

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NSW Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum Geography K - 10

GE3-2 explains interactions and connections between people, places and environments

GE3-4 acquires, processes and communicates geographical information using geographical tools for inquiry

Students explore countries of the Asia region and the connections Australia has with other countries across the world. Students will explore and reflect upon the importance of intercultural understanding.

Investigate connections between Australia and other countries of the world, for example:  (ACHGK034, ACHGK035) description of connections Australia has with other countries eg trade, migration, tourism, aid

Acquiring geographical information

  • develop geographical questions to investigate and plan an inquiry (ACHGS033, ACHGS040)
  • collect and record relevant geographical data and information, using ethical protocols, from primary data and secondary information sources, for example, by observing, by interviewing, conducting surveys, or using maps, visual representations, statistical sources and reports, the media or the internet (ACHGS034, ACHGS041)

Processing geographical information

  • evaluate sources for their usefulness (ACHGS035, ACHGS042)
  • represent data in different forms, for example plans, graphs, tables, sketches and diagrams (ACHGS035, ACHGS042)
  • represent different types of geographical information by constructing maps that conform to cartographic conventions using spatial technologies as appropriate (ACHGS036, ACHGS043)

Communicating geographical information

  • present findings and ideas in a range of communication forms as appropriate (ACHGS038, ACHGS045)
  • reflect on their learning to propose individual and collective action in response to a contemporary geographical challenge and describe the expected effects of their proposal on different groups of people (ACHGS039, ACHGS046)

Place: the significance of places and what they are like eg characteristics of places on a global level.

Space: the significance of location and spatial distribution, and ways people organise and manage spaces that we live in eg global patterns of spatial distribution; how people organise and manage spaces in their local environment.

Environment: the significance of the environment in human life, and the important interrelationships between humans and the environment eg how the environment influences people and places; how people influence the environment; the effect of natural disasters on the environment.

Interconnection: no object of geographical study can be viewed in isolation eg how environments influence where people live; ways people influence the characteristics of their environments; diversity of cultures and peoples around the world.

Scale: the way that geographical phenomena and problems can be examined at different spatial levels eg environmental and human characteristics of places on local, regional and global scales; the effect of global events on people and places locally, regionally and globally.

Sustainability: the capacity of the environment to continue to support our lives and the lives of other living creatures into the future eg extent of environmental change; environmental management practices; sustainability initiatives.

Change: explaining geographical phenomena by investigating how they have developed over time eg changes to environmental and human characteristics of places.

Learning across the curriculum

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures 
  • Ethical understanding
  • Information and communication technology capability 
  • Intercultural understanding
  • Critical and creative thinking
  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Personal and social capability
  • Civics and citizenship
  • Difference and diversity
  • Work and enterprise

Background notes for teachers

Key dates

A newly independent Australia administered the Territory of Papua in 1906.  At the end of the First World War and the German withdrawal from New Britain, New Guinea became a mandated territory of Australia in 1920. After the Second World War, Papua and New Guinea were combined and Australia continued as administrator until 1975 when Papua New Guinea achieved independence. 

Today, Australia and Papua New Guinea enjoy a strong bilateral relationship where economic growth, cultural understanding and political diplomacy is encouraged and supported.

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is a developing nation with 85% of its population living and working in farming and agriculture. The remaining 15% live in urban areas. Subsistence farming is the common practice with the main crops being sweet potato, taro and greens. Their diet is supplemented by meat, predominately pork, fish and imported products. 

There are over 800 language groups in Papua New Guinea and many groups remain isolated through a lack of roads and almost impassable terrain, particularly in the wet season. 


Issues surrounding health, education and wellbeing are major hurdles to development. Diseases such as malaria and dengue fever are common and Tuberculosis (TB), cholera and HIV/Aids are of growing concern. Just 40% of the population has access to clean water. The population reflects the trends of developing nations with low life expectancy (66 years), high birth rates, high maternal mortality rates and a high infant mortality rate (39 per 1000). Adult literacy rates are low at 64% and the average time spent in school, is less than five years.

The nation is experiencing some positive economic growth and trade is developing however, the country struggles with poor governance, corruption, economic mismanagement, poverty and crime. In 2015, the official advice for travelling to Papua New Guinea was ‘high degree of caution’. This is due to the high rates of crime, violent incidences including car-jackings and rape. Travel warnings also relate to poor road infrastructure and the high risk of landslides and flooding in the wet season. 

Papua New Guinea has implemented strategies that will see them strive for improvements in: human capital development; gender, youth and people empowerment; wealth creation; institutional development and service delivery; security and international relations; environmental sustainability and climate change; spiritual, cultural and community development and strategic planning, integration and control. Papua New Guinea Vision 2050 – National Strategic Plan Taskforce, 2011  Papua new Guinea’s current goal is to achieve United Nations Millennium Development Goals 

Australia is committed to assisting Papua New Guinea, in reaching their goals. Australia contributes 10.5% of all Official Development Assistance (ODE) to Papua New Guinea. Investment priorities are in health, education, governance, law and order and investment and trade. Our two nations also experience political cooperation on regional and global issues affecting our two countries, in particular issues relating to the environment.

On completing this unit, students will have a greater understanding of the positive relationship between Australia and Papua New Guinea, how geographic proximity and historic links have bonded the two countries and the friendship that currently exists. 

Students will explore the aid Australia provides the people and government of Papua New Guinea, economic investment and the importance of our trading partnership. Tourism opportunities, sport and migration will also be highlighted to provide opportunities for further inquiry.

Students will be challenged to consider the future connections between the two countries.

Additional resources

Picture books

  • Angel of Kokoda by Mark Wilson
  • The lost tail by Patricia Bernard and Tricia Oktober
  • The turtle and the Island by Barabara Ker Wilson, illustrated by Frane Lessac


State Library website

Papua New Guinea (PNG): Forty years of independence