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August 15, 2013
Pacific Partnership 13
ADF personnel gave young Papua New Guinean
girls from disadvantaged backgrounds hopes and
dreams during Pacific Partnership 13 (PP13).
Part of the annual humanitarian and civic assis-
tance mission included civil military relations pro-
grams such as refurbishing community memorials,
public buildings and sports facilities in the Wewak
and Vanimo remote townships, as well as supporting
the Lujan Home for Girls, also in Vanimo.
The Lujan charity assists its residents with devel-
oping life skills, schooling and trauma counselling. Its
focus is to ensure that the girls, from disadvantaged
and troubled backgrounds, receive assistance and
empowerment to lead happy and normal lives.
SQNLDR Scott Minchin, who was posted to HQ
Joint Operations Command for PP13 from the ADF
Investigative Service, spent six weeks in PNG and had
the busy task of managing the movements of more
than 300 deployed personnel. He said coordinating
the civil projects ashore was the most rewarding part
of his deployment.
A team of ADF personnel visited the Home for
Girls to donate bottled water, souvenirs, school sup-
plies and present a generous donation from the PP13
"We were able to assist with some maintenance
and minor construction tasks, donations from the
crew of HMAS Tobruk helped the home build a new
kitchen, and the girls from the school were able to go
for a road ride on one of the lighter amphibious resup-
ply cargo vehicles," SQNLDR Minchin said.
"We organised for female members, including
nursing officers and a team of junior sailors, to talk to
the girls about their careers and roles, as well as their
experiences in the military.
"It was an opportunity for the children to focus
on the possibilities that empowerment brings, and the
way that women not only contribute as a part of the
ADF, but are a key and valued part of the organisa-
Lujan student Mary Sagrario spoke after the pres-
entations from the ADF members and said "this is our
home and, for many of us, this is the first place where
we have felt dignity and love, we thank you for your
visit to us and all that you have done".
The home is administered by Catholic nuns from
the Service of the Lord and Virgin of Matara (SSVM)
Mission. Sister Maria del Sagrario Paez, the Mother
Superior at the Home, said after visiting the region in
2002 they soon realised there was an urgent need to
support local children.
"Adolescents, girls and young women need
protection from a variety of social problems
such as assault, discrimination, forced mar-
riage and possible human trafficking," she
"In 2009 the dream came true after
seven years of mission when we opened
Lujan Home for Girls. We receive adoles-
cents and young adults from poor families
with limited access to education, who face
a number of great risks from their environ-
Sister Vero Yongkise said the visit
bought smiles to the girls faces and "rep-
resented a chance for the girls to undertake
a group activity and see kindness and trust
from a group of men".
Sister Maria del Sagrario Paez said the visi
showed the girls at Lujan how women could b
"It gave them some positive role models other than
the SSVM Sisters and, importantly, it gave our girls
some heroes to look up to who are brave, confident
and empowered," she said.
SQNLDR Minchin said the girls at the school
ranged from young babies who had been taken in by
the home due to social circumstances, to teenage girls
-- some of whom were now working
in the community.
"I'm very passionate about civil
military relations," he said.
"To be part of a military team
that has worked with local com-
munities to help them with small
projects has been a highlight of this
deployment for me. The opportu-
nity to support a program that will
have ongoing future benefits is a
HELPING HAND: SQNLDR Scott
Minchin with Mary Louise at Lujan
Home for Girls in Vanimo. Inset, US
and Australian personnel meet with
the sisters, women and children at
the home in Papua New Guinea while
on Pacific Partnership 13.
Photos: LAC David Cotton
hearts in PNG
THE ADF has concluded its humanitar-
ian and civic assistance mission in
PNG and Solomon Islands as part of
Exercise Pacific Partnership 13.
During the exercise, 314 ADF per-
sonnel in HMAS Tobruk, combined with
personnel from the US and Japanese
defence forces, provided medical, dental,
veterinary, environmental, health and engi-
neering assistance to 40,000 people in the
townships of Wewak and Vanimo.
Over an 18-day period personnel
screened and treated about 2000 patients
for a range of ailments, completed more th
4500 dental check-ups and procedures, and
provided 20,000 man-hours of medical training to
local schools and health care professionals.
They refurbished classroom facilities, basketball
courts, playground equipment and public facilities,
as well as donated books and cleaned monuments
MISSION WRAPS UP
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