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June - September


Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD) Magazine



The Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD) Program aims to strengthen mutual understanding between Australia and the countries of Asia, the Pacific and Africa and make a positive contribution to development The program achieves these aims by placing 400 passionate young Australians (18-30) each year on short-term assignments in developing countries. AYADs work with local counterparts in Host Organisations to achieve sustainable development outcomes through capacity building, skills transfer and institutional strengthening. AYAD assignments cover a diverse range of sectors including education, environment, gender, governance, health, infrastructure, rural development and trades. The AYAD Program is part of the Australian Volunteers for International Development program and is fully funded by AusAID, the Government’s international development agency.

June 1st

AYAD assignments open


AYAD Debrief, Melbourne


World Environment Day


World Refugee Day


AYAD assignments close


International Day Against Drugs Abuse and Illicit Trafficking


AYAD Program has supported

and skills I needed to pursue a career in international development,

more than 3000 young Australians

plus a handful of life-long friends.

in over 20 countries throughout

To acknowledge and publicise our incredible Alumni, we’re launching

Asia, the Pacific and Africa.

a new Exchange feature - ‘Where are they now?’ -

which will

spotlight RAYADs achievements and experiences since finishing their A survey of over 100 Returned


Volunteers undertaken by our

July 1st

past volunteers, I can say that my time overseas gave me the passion

to live, work and make a difference

Intake 34 AYAD Pre-Departure Training


Since its inception in 1999 the

AYAD assignments open AYAD assignments close


Anthony Rologas

Alumni Team last year put the

In this edition we profile Rosal Fischer and Nick Goodenough, two

spotlight on how the volunteering

Intake 1 Alumni whose paths crossed when they both recently joined

experience affects life post assignment. Of the Returned AYADs

the Australian Civilian Corps. Turn to page four to read more.

(RAYADs) who responded to the survey, 70 per cent said their


AYAD assignments open

assignment helped them to secure their desired job. Furthermore,

If you know of an AYAD doing great things in their community, tell


International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

the 2007 tracking survey ‘Project AYAD: where are they now?’ found

us about them. Email with the

AYAD Debrief TBC

that 30 per cent of RAYADs were currently working in the aid and

information and we’ll try to feature them in an upcoming edition.

11th-12th 12th

International Youth Day


AYAD assignments close

September 1st

AYAD assignments open


International Literacy Day


International Day of Peace


AYAD assignments close

development field. Anthony Rologas We also know from word of mouth, Debriefs, and the wonder of the

Director of Volunteering

internet, that many RAYADs go on to do amazing things, helped by

Austraining International

the skills, networks and new interests they develop on assignment. It might be specialised work with an international non-government organisation, or a role with an Australian company with international linkages. As a former AYAD myself, in a workplace scattered with


JUNE 2012 - SEPTEMBER 2012 Editor:

Jessica Whiting


Miles Wilson


James Cornwell

Robert Gray


Where are they now?

Ben Gwilliam


Physiotherapy in Mongolia

Richard Hughes


Pearls Of The Pacific


The Power of Participation


Shadows of the Past


A Humbling Hug in PNG


A Solution to Growing Rocks


Growing Pains in Ghana


AYAD Forum Photo Gallery


A Partnership for Restoring Forests


Liquid Dreams


Expect the Unexpected: Supporting Speech Pathology in the Pacific


Australian Partner Organisation Listing

Michelle Hutchins Jessica Lee

Cover: AYAD Jessica Lee enjoying ‘another day in the office’ while on assignment in Tonga Left: AYAD Lisa Smyth’s image of a performer in traditional dress and facepaint at the Goroka Show

Sue Lyn Lim

Sue Park Brendan Rigby Ali Saikal Lisa Smyth

a holiday. It was a day when the person chosen for my assignment had pulled out, and I was suitably qualified. So it all happened quickly.” Nick says the highlight of his assignment was undertaking work at a higher level than what he would have been allowed to do in an Australian workplace. “It changed my career direction significantly,” Nick says. “Where I had been looking to get out of law, it energised me and got me interested in law. I changed states to Victoria and went to work at legal aid where I stayed for eight years.” Following his stint at Victoria Legal Aid Nick returned to overseas work, including a three-week training stint in Samoa, a six-month role with the Solomon Islands


Public Prosecutor Office and then two-and-a-half years as a public prosecutor in

The AYAD Program can be a spring-board to an amazing international career in development or the experience to catapult youth into their dream job back in Australia. The Program equips young Australians with a unique skill set allowing them to effectively work under pressure with limited resources in cross-cultural environments. Reports of the incredible achievements and ongoing successes of Returned AYADs (RAYADs) regularly reach AYAD HQ, much to the delight of the program team. We’ve decided to share some of these feel-good stories with you. In each edition of Exchange, intake by intake, we’ll bring you profiles on RAYADs who are doing great things in their personal and professional lives. To kick us off, Rosal Fischer and Nick Goodenough tell us what they’ve been up to since they were part of the first intake of AYAD back in 1999. Nick Goodenough Barrister Nick Goodenough almost didn’t become an AYAD. Nearing the cut-off age when he applied for an assignment as a Legal Officer with Fiji’s Legal Aid Commission, he was only selected when the recommended candidate withdrew. “I wasn’t initially selected but happened to drop in to the office in Canberra during

Papua New Guinea. Since returning from PNG Nick has practised as a barrister at the Victorian Bar, primarily in criminal law. He has recently joined the Australian Civilian Corps (ACC), an AusAID initiative that aims to enhance Australia’s ability to meet requests for assistance from developing countries following natural disasters or conflict (see Fact Box). “I registered for the ACC because I want to continue to be involved in the kind of work the ACC does,” Nick says. “I like to think that I have some overseas experience that, coupled with my experience in Australia, may be of use to others into the future.” Nick recommends the AYAD Program to young Australians who have a genuine interest in helping others. “With the benefit of hindsight I still regard the time with the AYAD Program as one of the best of my life, professionally and personally,” he says. “Although, I don’t have rose coloured glasses, and I can still remember some of the very challenging aspects of it. “The opportunity to work in a developing country is amazing, and you learn a hell of a lot more than you can ever pass on.”

Images Above: Nick Good


Above right: Ro sal with Vietnamese schoo l children, pictured during he r AYAD assignment Below right: Ro sal with UNICEF in South Sudan in 2009

Rosal Fischer

whom have returned to life in Australia, and others whom remain working

Development consultant Rosal Fischer travelled 27 hours by bus to be

in Asia and Africa.

interviewed for the AYAD Program. “For some of us, once you have these experiences in your blood, even “In 1998 I was completing my Social Work/Community Development

working in some of the most remote or insecure locations, you really

degree practicum from the University of Queensland in my old high school

learn to respect the contrasts of life and the opportunities we have to be

town in Far North Queensland,” Rosal explains.

Australian,” Rosal says.

“At that time you had to travel to your capital city for the interviews – so I

“International development and humanitarian work is a real calling. Many

had to take a loan from the community centre where I was working and

people think it’s ‘cool’ or interesting, but there is always a real need for

make the 27 hour bus trip down to Brisbane.

genuine, hard-working people who can adapt easily, work in difficult conditions, communicate well and have a real love and commitment for

“However, to work in international development was my dream career

development and stabilisation work.”


so there was no question for me that this was my opportunity to start volunteering and working overseas.”

Do you know a RAYAD who is doing amazing things? Tell us about them! Email their name, and any other information you may have,

Rosal was selected as a Community Development Officer working on an

plus your own details, to

AusAID bilateral urban water supply and sanitation project in Vietnam,

and we’ll endeavour to feature them in an upcoming

which afforded many opportunities for field work.


“Travelling to remote villages via vehicle, motorbike, boat and on foot, undertaking a documentary project on the project’s benefits for women and the organisation and the hosting of a national conference on the project’s impacts and lessons learned were some of the amazing activities I undertook.” Rosal’s experience has set her on a career path which has since led her to Israel, Sudan, Tibet and Pakistan working with local governments, private consultancies, UNHCR, and UNICEF. Like Nick, Rosal has recently joined the ACC (see Fact Box), a role which complements her emergency and stabilisation work in Sudan and Pakistan. Rosal is now based in the Canary Islands, off Africa’s west coast, where she continues to work as a consultant; pursuing projects that she says are “interesting and fulfilling.” She maintains contact with a handful of her AYAD colleagues, some of


ilian Corps (A

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On approach into Ulaanbaatar’s Chinggis Khaan International

kindergarten are a pleasure to work with and determined to improve

Airport, the empty moonscape of the rolling steppe blanketed in

their skills and knowledge so they can help the children reach their

snow is contrasted with the sprawling ger districts and an ever-

full potential. The profession of physiotherapy is progressing in

evolving city skyline. Ulaanbaatar is a city galloping towards

Mongolia, with a School of Physiotherapy opening at the Health

westernisation and when I explore its streets, buildings and back-

Sciences University of Mongolia in 2007 and the Mongolian

blocks I critique it with my physiotherapist’s eye. After working in

Physical Therapist’s Association (MPTA) formed in 2011. The first

the disability sector I have developed a habit of doing a disabled

conference of the MPTA was held in December 2011.

access mental checklist with every building I enter, every bus I board and every street I cross. In doing so, the many challenges

There are four School of Physiotherapy graduates based at the

faced by people with disabilities as they travel through this city

kindergarten but only one works as a physiotherapist. One works as

become obvious.

an occupational therapist and the other two as speech therapists. The kindergarten also employs two doctors, 18 teachers and one

Kindergarten and Nursing Complex No. 10 is the only state-

social worker. There is also a steady influx of physiotherapy, social

owned centre in the Mongolian capital that provides services for

work and medical students with whom I can share my knowledge.

children with disabilities and acts as an advocate for their rights. The children range in age from 18 months to 12 years with many

Early intervention and family-centred practice are two cornerstones

coming from impoverished backgrounds. Sometimes parents and

of paediatric therapy practice. These are both ideas that my

their children will make special trips from the countryside to visit

colleagues were aware of but weren’t implementing effectively. So

the kindergarten.

during my assignment I’ve been training the therapy team in these and other ideas and skills, developing resources and strengthening

Mobility is a big issue faced by the children who attend the

the family-centred service provided by the kindergarten so that

kindergarten and other people with disabilities. When the children

parents are better equipped with the knowledge and skills to care

are younger it is easy for an adult to carry them, but as they grow

for their children.

older, with limited access to good quality, well-fitted wheelchairs, mobility is restricted. As a result, only a very small number of high-

Children arrive at the kindergarten between 8am and 9am, either

functioning children manage to integrate into mainstream schools

on the school bus or dropped off by their parents. After breakfast,

and continue their education, with the rest forced to stay at home

children start therapy at about 9:30am, with the morning session

or remain at the kindergarten for as long as possible. This leads

lasting until 12pm. During this time I try to work with each therapist

to a revolving door of poverty and issues of dependency and

individually, quizzing them on their assessment skills and reasoning


for treatments and showing them hands-on ways to make their treatments more effective. I also get to play a lot of games.

It’s not all one big wet blanket though. My colleagues at the

AYAD | Ben Gwilliam Country | Mongolia

Images Left: Staff member at Kindergarten and Nursing Complex No. 10 Below and next pages: Ben playing with children at the Centre Below left: A child at the Centre

Assignment | Paediatric Physiotherapist Educator Host Organisation | Handicapped Kindergarten Centre N10 Then the children disappear for lunch and their afternoon naps and don’t reappear until around 2pm. I take this opportunity to sample some of Mongolia’s finest cuisine with my colleagues such as mutton dumplings, mutton khuurshuur (deep fried dumplings) or a tsuivan (mutton noodle stir fry). I spend the rest of the down-time creating resources or preparing and presenting workshops. The workshops I have presented have been really enjoyable because all my colleagues have been involved. I have also invited employees from the maternity hospital and the university to reach a wider audience. During the workshops we have devised ideas to improve teamwork and communication between the different professions, methods to improve family-centred practice and ways to involve parents further in their children’s treatment. During the afternoon therapy session I might repeat what I did in the morning; working with the therapists and playing a few more games. Sometimes I will go up to the classrooms with one of the therapists, observe the children in the classroom and work with the teachers to ensure the children are positioned correctly and they have as much opportunity as possible to practice the motor skills they are learning in therapy. Throughout my AYAD experience there have been challenges and frustrations. The biggest challenge has been language. The Mongolian language is unlike any other and I’ve really only reached a survival level. There are also the frustrations that come from working in a resourcepoor setting. These challenges and frustrations have been tempered by the fact that I was able to work with an outstanding and knowledgeable translator, my own resourcefulness and by the caring and dedicated nature of my colleagues. I now feel I have a better understanding of physiotherapy and its context within disability and I hope that what I have taught my colleagues can be put to good use to help each child at the kindergarten achieve their highest level of function possible.


Image: Ben with children at the Kindergarten and Nursing Complex No. 10


Image: Ben with children at the Kindergarten and Nursing Complex No. 10


“Do I look like the kind of guy who has an email address?” the local pearl farmer says. Touche.

impact, and also supports other industries such as carving and artisanal trades, and tourism.

He’s pulling a tiny white wooden boat slowly across the


reef flats in the Vava’u island group of Tonga. We are going

I’m the only girl in our office - unless you count a bikini-

to take a look at his oyster long lines, and also to see if I can

clad Miranda Kerr on a poster on the back of the toilet

retrieve some lines and oysters lost to the ocean bottom

door - so its bit of a man’s domain, but you couldn’t find

12 metres below (suspected line-cutting culprit: barracuda

a nicer group of guys. And the laid back environment suits

teeth). The rain that has been pouring for the past few days

me fine, because while most of the other Tongan AYADs

has made way for blue skies and sunshine. Sometimes,

are expected to wear ankle length skirts to work, covered

such as now, when I’m excited to hear different ideas for

arms, and a kie kie (traditional woven skirt) I’m pretty

developing the potential of the pearling industry I forget

comfortable getting around in boardies and a t-shirt.

that the forms of communication I take for granted in Australia are not always readily available in Tonga. With a

For the last few weeks, however, my work and general

good natured smile the farmer turns back to me and says

attire has been all black as the country is mourning the

he will give me the number of a neighbour with a telephone

death of King George Tupou V. It has been an interesting

who can pass on messages.

time to be living in Tonga from a cultural perspective, and I’ve had the chance to go to many of the ceremonies and

My assignment in Tonga as a Pearl Industry Development

activities surrounding the King’s death, most of which

officer has allowed me a few trips to Vava’u, as this is

integrate traditional and Christian ideologies. These have

where the pearl farms are located. I am usually based at

included the return of the King’s body to the Royal Palace,

the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Forests and Fisheries

the funeral procession, and the pongipongi tapu (sacred

(MAFFF) aquaculture facility on Tonga’s main island, just

morning), which included a royal kava ceremony and the

outside the capital of Nuku’alofa. As well as winged pearl

distribution of hundreds of pigs and thousands of woven

oysters (Pteria penguin) the facility grows corals, green

coconut frond baskets full of food.

snails, live rocks, trochus, giant clams, seaweeds and sea cucumbers. Aquaculture is an increasingly important

During my assignment I have had a chance to help with

industry in the Pacific where natural stocks of many species

some other hatchery activities. The other day we took

have been depleted through over-fishing.

the boat to a nearby island to collect some giant clams to bring back to the hatchery for spawning. Unfortunately,

My role focuses on strengthening the pearl industry

the weather wasn’t conducive to clam romance over the

through helping to ensure a supply of juvenile oysters from

next few days - clams like it hot! The dependence of much

the hatchery to the farms, increasing the technical capacity

of the hatchery work on the weather can be frustrating at

and skills of the farmers through training and extension

times. Cyclone Jasmine visited Tonga earlier this year, and

Host Organisation | Fisheries Division, Ministry of Agriculture and Food,

materials, and building a productive relationship between

while not too intense as far as cyclones go, it managed to

Forests and Fisheries (MAFFF) |

the pearl farmers association and the government. Pearl

cause a fair bit of localised flooding, trees and powerline

Australian Partner Organisation | James Cook University |

farming provides an important livelihood for coastal

falls and power outages, and ended the mango season.

communities while generally having a minimal environmental

The flooding certainly made my daily bike rides more

AYAD | Jessica Lee Country | Tonga Assignment | Pearl Industry Development Officer

Images Main: A procession of mourners during the King’s funeral Right inset: Oyster farmers cleaning the oysters ready for the seeding workshop Opposite page: Swimming for oysters, and oyster long lines at a pearl farm in Vava’u


interesting, and our smallest dog was almost swimming down

crops such as vanilla to supplement their income. To this end

our road the next day, along with the tilapia (little fish) which

we are also planning further workshops for this year, including

seemed to appear out of nowhere overnight.

husbandry, basic business skills, and shell carving.

While I have been kept fairly busy at the aquaculture facility, it

People say that change is slower in the Pacific, and that you

is the capacity building with the farmers that has been the most

need to adjust your pace and expectations. I think this is true to

rewarding. Our first workshop in Vava’u focused on seeding

some extent, but from little things big things grow. An important

the oysters. The workshop opening lasted several hours, with

first step to building capacity in a development setting is building

speeches and prayers and singing and food. I got the surprise

relationships. And in Tonga it seems talk flows more freely in the

of my life when my supervisor, a fairly tough looking guy with

great outdoors than in the meeting room.

a shaved head and ‘no one is perfect’ tattooed on his arm,


burst out in a glorious booming baritone in harmony with all the

Like my chat from my floating desk, which continued out to the

other singers! It was quite amazing to be sitting in a room full

reef edge, where the pristine turquoise dropped sharply down

of people who had never been together in a group before, and

to deep blue, and I moved over to make room for one more in

feeling like I was in the midst of a well-rehearsed choir.

the boat. As we paddled out to the line of buoys I donned my mask and fins, and slipped into the water. I was slightly nervous

The training was very hands on, and all the farmers had the

about whether I was going to make it to the bottom given that it

opportunity to practice their seeding, as well as discuss each

wasn’t in sight, but took a deep breath and headed down. The

other’s seeding techniques. The mabe pearls or half pearls

look of surprise on the farmer’s face when I came up with the

produced in Tonga require less specialist technical expertise

first line of oysters was priceless. And his smile got even bigger

than the South Sea pearls I am familiar with through my work in

when we realised that most of them were still alive and well.

the West Australian pearl industry, although it still takes practice and skill to produce a good pearl. Each pearl grows for around

I spent another hour or so in the water, being directed to various

nine months after the oysters are seeded, so hopefully I will still

places where oysters and lines had been lost, plus unhooking

be here to see the pearls of the workshop before I leave.

a stubborn anchor lost several months ago. And then it was time to return the little borrowed boat to its owner in the next

More recently I was up in Vava’u for a more informal meeting

bay, so I reassured my friend that I would be fine to make my

with the farmers, and to distribute some oyster seeding kits I

own way back to shore and said goodbye. As I snorkeled back

had assembled and the seeding manual I had been working

across the reef over blue starfish, soft corals and anemone

on based on the notes and photos taken at the workshop. We

fish, I couldn’t help but think I might be benefiting from this

discussed problems, including fish biting through the fishing

experience more than the people I am here to help. I’m only half

line, and the limited resources and tools available for the farms.

way through my assignment now, and I can’t wait to see what

It’s exciting to see the initiative the farmers have shown in

the next half brings.

making use of the limited resources they have available. Even so it would be great to get the industry to the stage where people have the confidence and resources to earn a reliable income solely from pearls, without having to diversify and grow other

Image right: Oyster long lines at a pearl farm in Vava’u


After waking up with the roosters, 8-year-old John begins whatever work his family has planned for After waking up with the roosters, 8-yearold John begins whatever work his family the day. Chores may include manning the small family has planned for the day. Chores may include manning the small family stall, working the stall, working the farms, transporting harvested farms, transporting harvested crops via crops via pushbike pedicabs or canoes, shepherdpushbike pedicabs or canoes, shepherding buffalo and goats and caring for ing water buffalo and goats and caring forwater his two his two younger brothers. John attends the local elementary school for a few younger brothers. John attends the local elemenhours during the day 14 willwill most likely not tary school for a few hours during the daybutbut go beyond Grade 4 as most likely not go beyond Grade 4 as that is the that is upthe upper level of education offered in per level of education offered in his area. John usuhis area. John usually falls asleep about ally falls asleep about 7pm while waiting for dinner 7pm while waiting for dinner Such to be cooked to be cooked and is carried to bed by his father. and is carried to bed by his father. is the life of a hard working young boy in the ruralSuch is the life of a hard working Philippines community of Nabuswang. young boy in the rural

full-time work for the family business, usually based around subsistence farming or fishing. Health facilities are nonexistent, which is a considerable problem given that families have on average five children. Historically in Nabuswang, mainland institutions have attempted to implement community projects but all have fallen short in one way or another. Much of my eight months living on this island has been spent learning about the seemingly difficult relationship between the locals and external agencies wishing to develop community projects. My




Carlos Hilado Memorial State College







Nabuswang. As with all state colleges, CHMSC is mandated to engage in the development of disadvantaged communities. My role with the college is to develop its relationship with

Philippines community of Nabuswang.




with the aim of having the two parties working together

A small island adjacent to the larger Negros Island,

towards a sustainable project designed to lessen the

Nabuswang is home to an estimated 1000 people. Its

island’s hardships.

geographic separation from the mainland makes it a somewhat marginalised community. The main road is

Working alongside a group of volunteer college

a bumpy dirt path winding through coconut trees and

teachers, we made it our mission to gain the trust

farmland which sees only a trickle of pushbike pedicabs.

of the community in a way which would allow them

The only municipal service the island receives is electricity

to feel comfortable expressing their opinions. If we

via a single cable strung up from a neighbouring island.

could achieve this and find a common goal we were

Many children finish school at a young age to enter

to pursue a community project. After gaining approval

from the local authorities, we began facilitating a series of

consuming, expensive and impossible in times of heavy

forums, inviting those who were interested in discussing

floods when the small boats used by locals are unable to

community issues. Attendees came from all walks of

navigate the currents. Funding has been secured through

life with many different experiences and opinions, and

the AYAD Assignment Support Allowance and a team of

to begin with, it was clear that they were expecting an

local people has been elected to manage the store with

external project to be imposed on the community. In my

ongoing organisational mentoring from CHMSC. In a few

time here I have noticed that Filipino people are naturally

weeks it will open for business, saving local families time

shy, a cultural factor particularly evident in rural areas.

and money.

After a couple of forums, during which we explained that we sought the participants’ ideas and that we would

Being accepted into the Nabuswang community has

not proceed with a project without their input, a few of

been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

the community’s more senior members began to speak

I am forever grateful for the simple moments such as

up. Before long, young and old women and men were

learning how to make kindling out of coconut shells, to

also contributing their opinions, and comments became

the more meaningful experiences like witnessing how

less sheltered and more constructive. The CHMSC

communities can work together. Some of these things

team facilitated the forum process, encouraging all to

have changed my life and the way I wish to pursue it.


participate and only reaching conclusions after ample group discussion and voting. As each session passed,

Since I set foot in the Philippines, the typical Pinoy

the thanks which were exchanged became more and

hospitality extended to me has meant I have felt extremely

more meaningful as locals began to realise that their

welcome. I felt somewhat undeserving of this kindness

input was valued. Relationships were being built not only

during my first few months on assignment; however,

between the forum participants and the CHMSC team

as the community engagement process unfolded, this

but within the community itself – interfamily politics were

feeling has lessened. Invites to visit locals for snacks and

being transcended and people were coming together to

attend gatherings are more frequent and I now think that

think constructively about the future of their community.

I have earned some of this amazing generosity.

During the forums the community outlined priorities predominantly relating to income generation and health.

AYAD| Ali Saikal

Based on these, a general store project was selected


– a shop selling over the counter medicines, basic first

Opposite page far left: Nabuswang child John, 8, helps to

aid items, and useful goods such as fishing nets and

transport crops by boat

Assignment | Community Development Officer

gasoline which can currently be purchased only on the

Opposite inset: Root crop farming - a typical livelihood of the

Host Organisation | Calos Hilado Memorial State

mainland. This project was chosen by the community

Nabuswang people

because transportation to the mainland can be time

Above: Ali facilitates a community forum

Country| Philippines


16 In 1980, tired after years of fighting, Mr Bon Peoun left the army to start a new life. He relocated his family, his wife Mrs Khat Phorn and their son Peoun Theng, to a small village in Banteay Meanchey Province near the Thai-Cambodia border.

For this family the landmines

Although they manage to make a living, the family will always

have inflicted a tremendous physical, emotional and financial

be haunted by what Mr Peoun calls the ‘shadow of the past’.

toll from which they will never fully recover.

In 1998, a two-month pregnant Mrs Phorn woke with morning

Landmines are not just a threat of the past. In Cambodia, 20

sickness. Craving vegetable soup she went into the forest to

years since demining first began hundreds of people are still

pick vegetables near a stream along the border. The early

killed and injured every year. Although good progress has

onset of the rainy season caused an abundance of chilli leaf,

been made during that time, there remains much work to be

a favourite of Mrs Phorn’s. In her excitement to gather the


leaf she strayed a few steps off the trail. Mrs Phorn heard an explosion and immediately fell to the ground. Covered in

I am coming to the end of a fascinating 12-month deployment

dust and unable to open her eyes, she felt down her right leg

with the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC). The centre

and discovered that it was covered with blood. She shouted

works to save lives and support development in Cambodia

for help and remained conscious long enough to see her

through humanitarian demining.

husband running towards her. Mr Peoun knew exactly how his wife was feeling - four years earlier he had also been injured

Riddled with an estimated 4-6 million landmines, the extent of

by a landmine.

the challenge facing Cambodia is hard to comprehend. At the heart of the effort to address the widespread contamination

Fortunately both mother and child survived the ordeal. Mrs

are the deminers. Their job is not a glamorous one. The

Phorn eventually had a prosthetic lower right leg fitted and

working conditions are tough. The pay is low. The nature of

manages to care for her family despite her disability.

the work is tedious. The margin for error is non-existent. It is not until you venture out into the countryside that you

can truly appreciate the effort that it takes to remove a single

deminers and their dogs. A simple traditional Cambodian

rainy season can severely hamper or stop operations altogether.

landmine. During my placement I have had the opportunity to

breakfast of rice, vegetables, soup and ingredients from the

The stifling conditions caused by the unforgiving heat of the

regularly visit deminers to watch them ply their trade. Below is

surrounds is prepared and shared by all members of the team.

dry season combined with the need to wear cumbersome

the story of a deminer I met recently.

protective gear make working conditions almost unbearable. Upon arriving at the minefield the team make preparations for

The availability and inconsistency of funding from donors often

Ms Yang Samphos is a mine detection dog handler. As a

the day of work. Ms Samphos and her dog KC work a 10 by 10

means highly trained staff are stood down or let go until funding

woman she is a rarity in this industry, however, this is slowly

metre ‘box’ of contaminated land. The box is divided into slim

gaps can be plugged.

beginning to change. A native of Battambang, one of the most

corridors measuring 50 centimetres wide. With the assistance of

heavily mined provinces in the country; Ms Samphos witnessed

a long leash, Ms Samphos sends KC sniffing down the corridor

The importance of the work is not lost on Ms Samphos. She

the effects of the indiscriminate weapons first-hand when her

to the end of the box and calls for her to return. If KC does

is proud to be a deminer though she acknowledges that it is a

uncle was disabled by a mine. It was following this experience

not detect the presence of explosives, the next corridor will be

dangerous profession and that often she is scared. She believes

that she made the decision to play a role in efforts to eradicate

examined. Should KC indicate the presence of explosives, by

that as a Cambodian citizen, she is responsible for returning

landmines from the Cambodian landscape. And so in 2004, at

sitting down, Ms Samphos will then manually search the area

Cambodia to a safe and peaceful land that is free from the

age 23, Ms Samphos started working at CMAC as a deminer in

with a mine detector.

impact of mines. There is another important reason she toils in

the Kamrieng District.

the field every day - she has a two-year-old son.

The use of animals in mine detection is a practice that has

Ms Samphos hopes that through her job she can teach her son

been around for many years. A heightened sense of smell and

a strong work ethic and provide him with opportunities that she

their light weight makes them ideally suited to the challenges of

did not have growing up. Ms Samphos’ dream is to help shape

landmine removal. CMAC trains and deploys belgian malinois

a better future for her son and Cambodia’s coming generations,

and german shepherd dogs. A balanced combination of

so that they may be able to achieve their goals.

temperament, intelligence and personality are necessary in order to be a successful mine detection dog. So specific are the

Field by field, district by district, province by province, Ms

requirements that out of a litter of 10 puppies only one or two will

Samphos, her platoon and all of the deminers in Cambodia will

be suitable for demining work.

continue to work until their land is declared safe. For a country that has endured such hardship, it is amazing that there still exists

Once chosen, a dog will be matched with a handler. The dog

Once a mine has been detected, Ms Samphos prods the ground

such a strong desire to make things better. There is a lot of work

and handler form a very strong bond through months of stringent

with a thin metal poker until contact with the landmine has been

to be done but I am confident with the grit and determination

training. The relationship is vital. If for some reason the dog is

made. Carefully she extracts the earth around the landmine. If

shown by deminers like Ms Samphos that one day there will be

unwell or distracted, the handler must be able to recognise the

possible, she disables the mine where it lies. Otherwise, it is

no more lives condemned by the shadow of the past.

warning signs immediately. The consequences of not doing so

removed and neutralised by detonation at a safe location.

could be deadly. As no records are kept it is difficult to know what type and how An average working day for Ms Samphos begins before

many landmines Ms Samphos uncovers. Some minefields will

Images: dawn. The demining platoon rouses from their slumber while

yield hundreds of devices where others will contain few or none.

Top: International Disability Day march it Middle: is still dark in order toInternational avoid theDisability scorching midday sun. The A participant in the Day march Bottom: Kate’s counterpart Joaozito Dos Santos addresses thehouse crowd atthe the accommodation is basic, large army style tents start of the march

AYAD | Richard Hughes Country | Cambodia Assignment | Planning and Operations Support Officer

There are many other conditions that influence the ability of

Host Organisation | Cambodia Mine Action Centre |

deminers to do their job. The incessant downpours during the



We had landed in Lae. Through my sleepy haze I saw a family

and dodgy air-conditioning. Barring the magnificent view of

board the plane - including a small boy and three women, one

the harbour from my window, my office could be any office,

of whom was clearly the matriarch. She sat next to me. Tiny,

anywhere in the world. I write emails, edit reports, and organise

with very few teeth and wearing a brightly coloured mari blouse,

events. Some people might even consider it dull.

she started to talk to me in one of the 800 languages native to PNG. As the flight attendant came over to buckle her seatbelt

But, for me, the last year has been extremely challenging and

I tried to explain to the woman I didn’t understand. She kept

wonderfully rewarding. And while I don’t get hugged by a

talking anyway, and the small boy, who I assumed was her

Papua New Guinean mama every day, I have had so many

grandson and was seated behind me, began to hit me on the

life-altering and amazing experiences that my future grandkids

head with a stick while laughing gleefully. Perfect.

won’t be able to shut me up. I have climbed an active volcano in Rabaul and seen the famous Asaro Mudmen in Goroka. I

I tried to fall back to sleep, but before I knew it we had landed

have taken part in a Peace Walk in Bougainville and visited the

in Port Moresby. I turned to find this PNG mama pointing at her

skull caves near Alotau.

seatbelt and looking back at me, and so with a quick flick of the wrist I unbuckled it. And then it happened. I was swept up into

My role has been delightfully varied. As I work for the Resident

the biggest bear hug by the tiniest woman in PNG! She was

Coordinator’s Office, and not a specific agency like UNICEF or

grinning from ear to ear and talking rapidly and kept hugging

the World Health Organisation, I am in a unique position in the

me and patting me on the head in quick succession. She was

UN. I don’t have a specific mandate like education or health - I

thankful for my kindness, and I was completely overwhelmed

get to see and work on it all.

and humbled by her gratitude. I commission stories on wetlands management initiatives in the My assignment as a Communications Officer with the United

Sepik; I help create videos about preventing violence against

Nations (UN) in PNG means such incredible encounters are not

women in the Highlands; I write speeches on improving PNG’s

a daily occurrence. While other volunteers in my intake teach

unacceptably high maternal mortality rate (733 per 100,000 live

cricket to local children, visit the homes of friends in remote

births in the year 2000 – one of the highest in the world ) and I

villages, or complete their morning swim in crystal-clear waters,

conduct interviews with HIV-positive women about their efforts

I work in an office in Port Moresby with a broken photocopier

to educate local communities about their status.

Images Opposite: Lisa with the Chinese Ambassador to PNG His Excellency Mr.Qiu Bohua Below: The Madang Market

AYAD | Lisa Smyth Country | Papua New Guinea Assignment | Assistant Communications Officer Host Organisation | United Nations, Papua New Guinea |

The work I have probably enjoyed the most however, is my work

The winner, Haiveta, a journalist from Lae, faced intimidation and

with the media. Gaining local journalists’ trust and respect was a long

threats to report on the defrauding of a local school by their own

process, but an essential one to increase awareness of UN work in

Governing Council for nearly K300,000. He was then invited to

PNG and development issues as a whole. Most recently I worked with

present at the Pacific Media Summit on Anti-Corruption Reporting

certain journalists around the visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on

in March 2012, and I was very proud to accompany him. It was

Violence Against Women, Rashida Manjoo. It was encouraging to see

an eye-opening experience to see how most Pacific journalists feel

media coverage of her visit promote conversation around the issue

that they cannot report on corruption without risking their jobs, or

when violence against women is often not discussed publicly in PNG.

worse, and how so many took inspiration from Haiveta’s experience. I got to know Haiveta quite well, and while a softly-spoken man, he

However, increasing awareness of UN work has been only one

is passionate about fighting corruption in his country and now says

aspect of my efforts with the media. The media in PNG are extremely

he is determined to work with other young journalists to encourage

enthusiastic and hard-working, but they lack fundamental support and

them to do the same.

often face challenges not confronted by journalists in Australia. There is no Freedom of Information legislation in PNG so gaining access to

We now have four partners for the 2012 awards, including the British

vital documents is difficult, and reporting on issues of public interest,

High Commission and Transparency International, which has seen

such as corruption, has some very real dangers for local journalists.

the expansion of the award to four categories, and a respected ABC

They often have to make the decision to report on friends and family

journalist has agreed to act as mentor. As my assignment is finishing,

if they are to expose corruption, and they or their family might come

I won’t be here to see the launch of the awards this year, but know

to physical harm.

that there is a lot of enthusiasm to continue with the initiative.

Therefore, for International Anti-Corruption Day in December 2011,

My year in Port Moresby has not been easy. It has been difficult to

I worked with the UN to launch the Excellence in Anti-Corruption

cope with the restrictions and lack of freedom. I have missed walking

Reporting Media Awards in PNG. The awards aim to encourage

down the street or even being able to walk outside my own front

individual journalists to use their position in society to report, expose

door. However, it’s moments like accompanying Haiveta to the

and combat corruption and write stories that show how corruption

Pacific Media Summit – or even a hug from a tiny woman on a plane

negatively impacts on the achievement of the Millennium Development

– which make it worthwhile.

Goals in PNG.


AYAD | Robert Gray Country | Vietnam Assignment | Permaculture Support Officer Host Organisation | Social Policy Ecology Research Institute, Farmers Field School, Branching Human Ecology Preservation Area Australian Partner Organisation | Australian National University |

Image: Robert helping the students to make a new altar out of natural materials at the spirit tree

Image: Mr Bo Ka (left), SPERI project officer, and Mr Xaycuyang, village elder and spiritual leader

Image: Students studying edible herbs that can be found in HEPA so they can collect and eat them

I live next to a river and under mountains.

life. Sometimes, like now when by the river, I even feel empathy for my volunteering compatriots who might be competing with the traffic in Hanoi this very minute.

These are excellent ingredients for making a rich tapestry involving uncommon cultures and values, diverse biological life and even good wholesome permaculture (ecological agriculture). The river and

My Host Organisation is the Social Policy and Ecology Research Institute (SPERI), an independent

mountains speak to me. The more I get to know them, always sitting there close to my work and life,

scientific organisation focusing on ecological agriculture education and facilitating networks of Mekong

the more they start to permeate my thoughts. The river is always singing, at times softly and sweetly

ethnic minority youth, farmers and elders who face the complex challenges of globalisation, loss of culture

like raindrops on a thatched roof, and in the monsoon season, like thunder, boulders literally roll and

and environmental degradation. SPERI works mainly in Lao and Vietnam in sensitive highland areas that

shake with the incredible forces of nature.

are now being exposed to rapid changes.

I wanted to put the sound of the water into my words, so I thought I would go down to the river to

Vietnam in a nutshell: I think if you were to crack this nut open you would hear the sound of a million

write. Sitting on a rock in a sharp bend of the river, the water is deep below my dangling feet. It’s

honking motorbikes, misty humid air would then pour out to fill the surrounding room and from that mist

a good place to swim. To my side, stones create a large open space at the waters edge, almost

would come a long line of economics and accounting university students (it seems that nearly every

like a rocky lawn of some forgotten palace, only there are no buildings in sight. All dwellings and

student I meet outside of HEPA is studying economics or accounting!). This is a Vietnam entering the

classrooms are hidden in the forest beyond.

21st century global economy - no holds barred. With the country’s current economic growth; the issue is that there are often hidden costs to the environment and vulnerable groups, especially the ethnic minority

I am living in a remote mountainous corner of northern central Vietnam near the Lao boarder. The

people that live in mountainous and resource rich areas.

Human Ecology Preservation Area (HEPA) 400ha project site, where I am based, is the regional Farmer Field School (FFS) headquarters for the Mekong. From the HEPA it’s half an hour to the

Industrial agriculture in particular is putting pressure on local resources, chiefly, the soil. One of my work

nearest town, which is quite something for population-dense Vietnam. It’s lucky that I enjoy the quiet

colleagues, Su, from an ethnic Hmong minority group in the north of Vietnam, tells me a story about

Images Main: Waterfalls near the spirit tree where students and staff sometimes gather to relax


Far right: Robert plowing with a buffalo, helping to establish a new rice terrace field on one of the demonstration farms Inset above: Students gather at the spirit tree to worship and recognise the value of belief in natural resource management Inset below: Robert works with two indigenous staff to review and discuss the design for stage two of a small demonstration farm in HEPA

growing rocks in the village and why he chose to study and

Students get a chance to take different topics such as soil

later work in HEPA.

and water management and design of cropping and animal systems in real situations on a number of small model farms

“Once in my village I was talking to an elder and he

in HEPA. I often practice with the students and staff during

was asking why every year the rocks seem to grow

community work on model farms and help them to share

up out of the ground as this had not happened in

lessons learned. I also develop new workshops based

the past. Later I was selected to study eco-farming

on practical topics such as alley cropping, composting,

and learnt about how the use of chemicals and other

worm farms or growing mushrooms. We have also had

practices such as deforestation can lead to soil

participatory strategic planning sessions to develop new

erosion. When I went back to the village I could see

mid and long-term objectives for the FFS, which has been

that; yes this is why the rocks are growing; we are

quite a process. It’s a great experience to be involved in a

changing our practices and are no longer protecting

really hands-on way, while also giving input on a strategic

and preserving the life in the soil, so it washes away,


rocks grow and then crops cannot.” AYAD assignments have a focus on capacity building. I Su wants to learn as much as he can, and help ethnic

think this is a bit like building up the soil with mulch and

minority youth understand how to protect the soil and

compost in model farms, it is a slow and small solution but

create good permaculture design.

one which produces the deepest change and healthiest systems. It is the minority youth who are ultimately in the

At FFS; students, farmers and official visitors learn to

best position to teach their peers, it takes some time and

work with nature rather than against it. Students study

support to build up facilitation and design skills but once

the design science of permaculture with aims to integrate

they are confident they can literally speak the language of

traditional know-how with clear ecologically based design

Mekong youth.

principles and whole systems thinking. In addition to this, SPERI places an emphasis on nurturing traditional culture,

During these last months of my assignment I will be

beliefs and practices and the role they have in resource

assisting staff and students to update and adapt the design

management. Minority youth are a special target group

foundation aspect of the course of SPERI with a focus on

and by studying in FFS they can understand key issues

‘teaching-by-learning’ and ‘learning-by-doing’. It continues

in the community, such as soil erosion, and can effectively

to be a moving journey working with our community

design local ecological solutions based on a respect of

in HEPA - one in which we share celebrations, mutual

traditional culture and the environment.

learning adventures and the small moments of everyday life, like the puffy floating seeds that drift around this time

My assignment objectives focus on building up the

of year. “Nature is very clever,” Su mentions to me as we

strategies and curriculum resources of the Farmer Field

observe a flying seed. When I reflect on the exceptional

Schools. I’m helping the students and staff to develop small

opportunity of being an AYAD, I realise it has been such

action research trials in which to integrate local knowledge

an honour to be one part in the small and slow solution to

with permaculture principles and design, assisting with

combat growing rocks.

training courses in the process.


It is not just economic growth that Ghana is experiencing.

central to my role, we work with School for Life (SfL), an NGO

Growth in human development, in the well-being and capability

that provides complementary basic education to out of school

of Ghanaian women and children, is showing positive trends. In


particular, Ghana has made significant progress in expanding educational opportunities over the past decade, particularly

SfL provides a nine-month, accelerated learning programme

through boosting school enrolment rates and narrowing the

to children aged 8-14 years. It focuses on mother tongue

gender gap. However, it is estimated that about 470,000

literacy and child-centred learning opportunities. The goal is

school-aged children remain out of school .

to enable the children who graduate from SfL to transition into formal schooling at the end of the nine-month cycle. And, the


For children in Diare, it is usually their family’s poverty and need

results are encouraging. Since 1995, over 150,000 children

to contribute to household work that pulls them out of school.

have enrolled in SfL throughout Ghana. Some 90 per cent

Children are expected to contribute to their family’s livelihood

have graduated, while a further 65 per cent have transitioned

Driving north through Ghana’s Northern Region affords a

and household work from a young age. However, Fatawu can

into formal schooling . Fatawu is currently enrolled in SfL in

glimpse of the growth this country is experiencing. The north-

neither help his grandfather with farm work nor can he attend

Diare. His facilitator, Issifu Adam Ben, a community-based

south road that links Tamale, the regional capital, with the

the nearby primary school as he is physically unable to. I am

volunteer who has been trained by SfL, picks Fatawu up from

border of Burkina Faso is a highway moving the bulk of trade

not sure what his diagnosis is; it may be genu valgum (more

his grandfather’s home each day for class. It is the first time

between these two countries, but also facilitating the movement

commonly referred to as ‘knock knees’) or the effects of polio.

Fatawu has been given an opportunity to learn. He is very shy,

of people. This road is constantly busy with lorries carrying

It is very painful for him to walk any distance, and he is often

but a smile lights up his face when he speaks of his future

shipping containers from the southern port of Tema, tomatoes

confined to the house. Some community members describe

aspirations to work as a lawyer.

from Burkina Faso, and young men and women in search of

him as ‘useless’. I have been working with Fatawu, as part of

better opportunities. More and more petrol stations, built to

my assignment with UNICEF Ghana, to look more closely at

While monitoring of this programme is very much community

accommodate the heavy truck traffic, stand in stark contrast

the experiences of out of school children. In particular, those

based, I am implementing a participatory and inclusive

to the traditional compounds and villages that sparsely dot the

children like Fatawu, who are the most disadvantaged and

research project that is giving Fatawu and other children an

countryside. The seasonal rains have also arrived for the year,

vulnerable. It is estimated that some 16 per cent of children in

opportunity to express themselves and voice their experiences

creating life in an otherwise dry and dusty environment.

Ghana have some form of disability .

of exclusion, schooling and daily life. Both international and

I travel north and south along this road frequently, visiting

The UNICEF field office is located in Tamale, the northern

more equitable and robust results, particularly under a ‘value for

communities in the District of Savelugu-Nanton, located

hub for international and national development agencies and

money’ banner. The results of SfL have attracted other donors

just north of Tamale. Although many of these communities

organisations in Ghana. It is becoming increasingly apparent

to their programme, and UNICEF Ghana is seeking to scale-

are located within a relatively short distance of the trade

that Ghana’s gains, both economical and developmental, are

up support to enable SfL to reach 7,500 children. The current

concentrated in the urban centres, they are bypassed. Fatawu,

inequitable. And, it is in the northern regions that the inequity is

programme we support in Savelugu-Nanton has enrolled 750

a 13-year-old boy, lives in one such community, Diare. His

stubborn and relentless. Under a global mandate, equity has

children. However, what the results-based agenda does not

parents are deceased, and he lives with his grandfather but

become embedded and central to UNICEF’s programming.

capture or acknowledge are the experiences and nuances

has never attended formal schooling despite the presence of a

In Tamale, through the education section with which I work,

of Fatawu’s life, which gets overlooked in data collection and

primary school in Diare. I have quickly discovered that access

we are carrying out this mandate through partnerships with

results-based management.

to education in Diare is not a matter of location.

government and non-government agencies. In particular, and

national aid and development agencies are seeking to deliver

In the isolated community of Koduhizegu to the north of

When I finish my assignment, I will head north towards Tamale’s

Diare, Rahamatu enrolled herself in the local SfL class of this

airport on the same road I have travelled many times to visit and

community. She is a Fulani, a semi-nomadic society of different

work with Fatawu and Rahamatu. My time in Ghana has been a

sub-ethnicities and class grouping, spread across West Africa,

deeply fulfilling and enriching experience, and has firmly set my

from Nigeria to Senegal. She was in formal school, but was

path for continued research work in development.

pulled out to look after her younger brother. I am working with Rahamatu, exploring her views and experiences of schooling

Brendan has recently co-founded a pilot program which

and exclusion. As part of the research, she has been given basic

offers peer coaching for aid workers. An online funding

training in using a small digital camera to document and capture

campaign to kick-start the program can be found here:

what is important in her life. In her first week with the camera,

she has already taken over 280 photographs, taking naturally



to using such an unfamiliar device. Fatawu is doing the same in Diare. The initial picture forming from our research is fascinating, revealing hidden perspectives and insights from these children

Images Top left: Brendan Rigby on assignment Top right: Children reading the School for Life Dagbani textbook Below right: Diare boy Abukari Fatawu, a School for Life student

about their self-identity, literacy and dreams for the future. Although Fatawu and Rahamatu could not be from more different backgrounds, they share more in common than just being labelled as ‘out of school’ children. They share similar challenges in terms of schooling, albeit for different reasons, but they also share aspirations. I am very privileged to bear witness and create space for the expression of such.

AYAD | Brendan Rigby | Country | Ghana | Assignment | Education Officer Host Organisation | UNICEF Ghana |

The next challenge for this research approach in terms of monitoring and evaluation is how these children’s perspectives and experiences can help inform future interventions, programmes and public policy. Since 2006/7, Ghana’s education system has witnessed falling primary and junior high school admission and completion rates. Providing meaningful access to Fatawu and Rahamatu, of inclusion which encompasses retention, achievement, progression, engagement and relevance is a priority for both the Government of Ghana and UNICEF. However, evidence and experiences from other countries show that the last 10-20 per cent of the population is always hardest to reach. Australian Partner Organisation | UNICEF Australia |


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AYAD Forum – April 2012 Exploring the contribution of youth to local,

and exhibitors from CARE Australia, CoDesign

national and global communities was the

Studio, Plan International, International Cricket

theme of this year’s AYAD Forum, on Tuesday,

Council East Asia Pacific, Save the Children,

April 17, in Melbourne. The annual event, held

Scouts Australia, Surf Life Saving Australia,

during National Youth Week, aims to provide

Teach Australia and Youth Challenge Australia.

young Australians with a platform for discussion around a topical development issue.

For the passionate young Australians who attended AYAD Forum the evening was a

About 200 people packed the State Library

unique opportunity to learn more about how

of Victoria’s Experimedia room to hear from

they can make a difference to communities

inspirational and interactive guest speakers,

worldwide and form networks with other like-

including Aaron Tait, the Director of not-for-

minded youth and organisations.

profit Spark* International. Aaron enthralled the crowd with stories drawn from his fascinating


background such as his military service in


Aaron Tait

Iraq, and his many achievements including


Pierre Johannessen

developing an orphanage for children in Kenya.


Anthony Rologas, Austraining

CEO of Melbourne social enterprise CoDesign

International Director of Volunteering;

Studio Kate Ferguson gave an engaging

Kate Ferguson, CEO CoDesign Studio;

presentation about the role of youth in

Aaron Tait, CEO Spark* International;

enabling community design projects.

Pierre Johannessen, MC and RAYAD;

Next to take the stage was Returned AYAD

Bianca Collier, Save the Children

(RAYAD) Steve Meyer and Save the Children’s

Program Manager South and Central

Bianca Collier who gave a joint presentation.

Asia and North East Africa, Steve

Meyer, RAYAD; Austraining

International AYAD Program Manager

Brett Gresham

community in the remote Solomon Islands


Guest speakers mingle with one

province of Choiseul.


The night was compared by RAYAD and


The Scouts Australia stand

founder of sport NGO Big Bang Ballers, Pierre


The Youth Challenge International



Following a Q and A session with the guest


Steve says the AYAD Forum was a fantastic occasion to share his experience volunteering on a Save the Children project with the Taro

speakers, attendees enjoyed drinks and canapés while networking with the speakers


The Save the Children stand







AYAD: James Cornwell

AYADs Michelle Hutchins and James Cornwell are working together

through improving the environmental stability and productivity of

Country: Thailand

on a forestry restoration project being carried out by a partnership

degraded secondary forests. At a higher policy level it contributes to

Assignment: Forest Carbon and Biodiversity Research Officer

between their Host Organisations in northern Thailand.

Millennium Development Goals one and seven targeting poverty, hunger

Host Organisation: Forest Restoration Research Unit (FORRU) |

and environmental sustainability. The project, managed by Michelle, pilots the ‘Assisted Natural Regeneration’ (ANR) technique for forest restoration, and is being carried

At the pilot site in Doi Mae Salong, James has been working to design

Australian Partner Organisation: CSIRO Sustainable

out across four countries in south-east Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos,

survey methods and monitoring protocols which will measure the

Ecosystems |

and Indonesia). In Thailand, the work has been based near Doi Mae

effectiveness of the ANR techniques for improved soil and water quality,

Salong, a mountainous region in the far north of the country, which is

control of soil erosion, and the establishment of native tree species.

home to the Akha people, an ethnic minority group. The work involves

James has also assisted with coordinating and documenting community

education for communities that are directly impacted by these forest

training workshops with the aim of providing skills to community

restoration activities.

members, including youth, to carry out forest restoration on a larger scale.

AYAD: Michelle Hutchins Country: Thailand Assignment: Forestry Officer

In interviews during the training, James learnt that one of the primary

Host Organization: Food and Agriculture Organization

ANR is a relatively simple and cost-effective method of forest restoration

concerns for the community was the need to improve the quality of the

of the United Nations |

which minimises the planting of trees. Rather, by using simple techniques,

forest to prevent soil erosion, and for the benefit of future generations.

ANR enhances natural processes that facilitate forest regeneration in degraded areas; the reintroduction of seed dispersing wildlife and

“Public awareness about the importance of forests for ecosystem

the establishment of a forest canopy. Seedlings can be liberated by a

services (such as biodiversity, water quality, and the minimisation of soil

technique which uses wooden boards to ‘press’ invasive grass weeds,

erosion) and the problems associated with degraded lands is growing

allowing a forest canopy to form. A critical element is also protecting the

in Thailand. There is a need to promote land use practices that are

site from fire and grazing to ensure that a forest canopy is protected from

sustainable and which encourage the conservation of existing forest and


the restoration of forest, especially in vulnerable areas,” James says.

This regional project is based on the experiences with ANR in

“My AYAD assignment has allowed me to learn about forest restoration

rehabilitating degraded forests and weed invested Imperata grasslands

projects that are taking place in Thailand, and the challenges that exist

in the Philippines for over 30 years. A long-standing partnership between

for establishing and maintaining these projects. By participating in

the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ Regional

community training workshops, I have gained a real appreciation about

Office for Asia and the Bagong Pagasa Foundation (BPF), a small NGO

the importance of community engagement for the success of these

in the Philippines, has since played a critical role in propelling this simple

types of projects. I have also learned a great deal about the science

concept from obscurity to the forefront of tropical forest restoration

behind the Forest Restoration Research Unit’s (FORRU) work in tropical


forest restoration.”

Through the help of the BPF team we are aiming to build on the

Michelle has learned the importance of developing good relationships to

positive experience in the Philippines by supporting the promotion of

increase the chances of successful projects. FORRU and the International

similar approaches in other countries. At a local level the project aims

Union for Conservation of Nature have been working in this hill tribe area

at increasing and diversifying income of forest dependent communities

for a number of years.

“Without these established relationships, the negotiating would have been very difficult and the overall outcomes wouldn’t have been as positive. Whilst the Akha people are always very warm and welcoming, when we first visited the community they were skeptical about the aims of the project. However, because of the trust that had been built previously with the community, we were able to successfully negotiate an agreement on where the ANR technique would be implemented. The second time we visited the area to undertake the training there was a village hall full of children and their parents eagerly waiting to learn more about forest restoration. It was actually overwhelming to see such enthusiasm. Most of the children were enthusiastically engaged and many walked around with the brochures they were provided on ANR technique for the full three days that we were there. It was really encouraging.” For Michelle the more she visits the model site, the more she is able to appreciate the realities of the region she is working in. “Getting long term positive and sustainable outcomes will take time and sustained effort. I hope that partnerships like this with my Host Organisation and NGOs such as FORRU and BPF can continue so that we can further build on the positive work happening in this area.” “And whilst there are certainly many challenges involved with doing this sort of work, when you get to work with such welcoming and enthusiastic people it seems worth it.” Chiang Mai University’s Forest Restoration Research Unit (FORRU) seeks to integrate biodiversity conservation into the needs of local communities living in and around tropical forest ecosystems. The unit is researching methods and techniques for forest restoration in Thailand and other countries in the region. It also has an education team which provides training to a range of audiences, from University groups to NGOs and community groups. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations’ Forestry Department works to balance social and environmental considerations with the economic needs of rural populations living in forest areas. FAO serves as a neutral forum for policy dialogue, as a reliable source of information on forests and trees and as a provider of expert technical assistance and advice to support countries in developing and implementing effective national forest Image: Michelle with Akha hill tribe girls during a lunch break



Image: Michelle pictured with members of the FORRU group


Image: James and Michelle in the field at Doi Mae Salong, Chiang Rai province



How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.

So You Want To Be a Marine Biologist?

Reef Checking

So you want to be a marine biologist?

A lot of tape

In an amazing, life-changing year, one of the coolest things I

12,000 photos, 3.4 kilometers of reef and counting

did was take part in a coral reef underwater expedition with

The plan: survey 29 sites around Bali and the Gili islands (off

my Reef Check Indonesia colleagues.

Lombok) over two-and-a-half weeks.

Although my assignment was to build the capacity of Reef

Our team consisted of Reef Check staff, marine science interns

Check staff in business development and marketing to help

from a local university and me. Everyone in the team had a different

the organisation raise resources for conservation, I couldn’t

task, such as identifying and counting fish (both big and small) or

turn down the opportunity to see first-hand what marine

recording the different coral species. I had no previous scientific

scientists really get up to underwater.

diving experience but because I could use an underwater camera, I was given the photo transect job.

- Arthur C. Clarke I always dreamed of being a marine biologist and here was my I’ve always loved the ocean. I applied for an AYAD assignment with

big chance!

A giant measuring tape (called a transect line) was placed along sections of the reef at 3 and 10 metre intervals and acted as a

Reef Check Indonesia because I was interested in marine conservation and wanted to make a difference. I also longed for adventure and the

Reef checking

chance to explore Indonesia’s underwater world.

The expedition’s purpose was to survey the reefs around

marker for us to record our observations.

the islands of Bali and Lombok to check on the health of the

During each dive, I took close to 500 photos of the coral underneath

Indonesia is an archipelago of over 17,000 islands strung across

corals. In 2009 and 2010, unusually high water temperatures

the transect line. Nearly three-and-a-half kilometres of reef and

one of the most geologically active zones on the planet. In terms of

caused a mass coral bleaching event and our job was to

12,000 photos later I had turned into some kind of coral paparazzi.

marine life, it is a biodiversity hotpot which houses over 70 per cent

see how the corals had been coping since then. The survey

of the world’s coral species, countless fish and weird and wonderful

would help paint a picture of the resilience of the reef and help

For over two weeks, we started our days at 5.30am. Our dives were

creatures like the pygmy seahorse and ‘walking’ shark.

scientists and reef managers determine which areas were

long, sometimes nearly two hours, and they demanded a lot of

most in need of protection.

concentration. This was definitely not the fun diving I was used to.

I came to the right place.

A Lot of Tape

Dynamite and Cyanide

An Affair to Remember

In addition to diving three times a day, we had to organise supplies

Local fishermen say that the fish stocks are not what they

An affair to remember

and logistics, haul dive tanks, wash dive equipment and transfer

used to be and they have to work harder, go further and

Since returning home, I’ve had time to reflect on my time in

our precious data, often late into the night. I was completely

sometimes resort to unsustainable fishing practices to feed

Indonesia as an AYAD. It was an eye-opening and humbling

exhausted at the end of each day.

their families. Rubbish is another major threat to the reef.

year full of challenges, emotion and adventure. I made

There is a lack of waste management facilities in Indonesia

many friends, discovered new places, sampled amazing

It was challenging work but also incredibly rewarding. We travelled

and heavy rains often cause rivers to wash huge amounts of

food, experienced different cultures and became part of the

and dived at some spectacular spots around Bali and the Gili

garbage onto the fragile reefs.

Reef Check Indonesia family. No matter where I travelled

islands, met many friendly locals and had a lot of fun. It was also

in Indonesia, I was always touched by the warmth and

immensely satisfying knowing that I had played a small role in

In an underwater and beach clean-up organised by Reef

gathering important data which would be used to help protect

Check Indonesia in Amed, one of Bali’s most popular tourist

coral reefs.

spots, the local community collected over 600 kilograms of

But it was the reefs that I fell in love with. I have since returned

trash in under two hours!

to Indonesia to dive parts of North Sulawesi and the remote

generosity of the Indonesian people.

and enigmatic Raja Ampat islands. As well as enriching me

Dynamite and cyanide It makes me incredibly sad to learn that more than ever; Indonesia’s

Organisations like Reef Check Indonesia are trying to make

both personally and professionally, my AYAD experience with

marine environments are facing unprecedented pressure from

a difference at the grassroots level – through education,

Reef Check Indonesia affirmed my desire to work with people

climate change and human activities.

eco-tourism and conservation projects. Reef Check staff

who love the marine environment and strive to protect it. The

are teaching school kids about recycling and working with

story of my love affair with the ocean continues as I take on

In the world’s fourth most populous country, destructive practices

local leaders to initiate waste management programs. They

my dream job as communications manager with the Western

such as dynamite fishing and cyanide poisoning, pollution,

are helping communities establish marine protected areas

Australian Marine Science Institution in Perth.

overfishing and unsustainable tourism continue to take their toll on

along with reef restoration and rehabilitation programs and

the reefs.

also training local fishermen and dive operators on coral reef

AYAD | Sue Lyn Lim

monitoring techniques.

Country | Indonesia

More than 20 per cent of the world’s coral reefs have been effectively

Assignment | Business Development and Marketing Officer

destroyed and show no immediate prospects of recovery .

Host Organisation | Reef Check Foundation Indonesia |


Image: Sue Lyn hard at work underwater during the survey



In hot water!

Not just a pretty face

Coral is not a rock. It is made up of living organisms

Coral and the zooxanthellae that live within them are very

Coral reefs provide economic benefits estimated to

called polyps (kind-of mini upside down jellyfish). As the

sensitive to changes to their environment. When water

be worth as much as US$375 billion each year . They

polyps of stony corals grow, they produce limestone

temperatures get too warm they become stressed and

provide nurseries for many species of fish and sustain the

skeletons which form the structure of the reef we see.

their symbiotic relationship breaks down. The zooxan-

livelihoods of countless communities through fisheries

Symbiotic microscopic algae called zooxanthellae live

thellae are for some reason, kicked out, leaving the coral

and tourism. They provide a food source for billions on

within coral polyps and provide them with nutrients and

looking white or bleached. Unless conditions return to

the planet, protect beaches and the mainland from wave

oxygen in exchange for a safe home. It’s the zooxanthel-

normal, the coral will die, usually within 4 to 6 weeks

erosion and house biological compounds that hold poten-

lae that give corals their wonderful colours.

Mass coral bleaching events have occurred more fre-

tial treatments for illnesses and diseases such as cancer.

quently over the last 20 years and scientists predict that this will continue as water temperatures continue to rise as a result of climate change.

Image: The Survey team


References World Wildlife Fund: Status of Coral Reefs of the World 2004 Robert Costanza et al., “The Value of the World’s Ecosystem Services and Natural Capital,” Nature, Vol. 387 (1997), p. 259.

Australian Partner Organisation: Speech Language & Learning: Educational Therapy Consultancy


Australian speech pathologist Sue

Pathology Australia have now supported six AYAD assignments

and how they are able to contribute, both within health and

Park’s volunteer experience providing

in the Philippines, Samoa and Fiji. Following the increased

education environments. It has been found that, over and

rehabilitation for a Fijian man with

interest in international volunteer work among its members,

above their professional area of expertise, volunteer speech

disabilities has lead to a partnership

Speech Pathology Australia established a network group called

pathologists have a great ability to problem-solve and assist

with the Australian Volunteers program

‘Working with Developing Communities’.

in establishing processes and organisational aspects to assist

in the Pacific.

in program management, resulting in reduced stress levels Sue has found that one of the most common challenges for

and improved communication and productivity for the Host

Speech Language & Learning: Educational Therapy

AYADs is shifting the perception of a speech pathologist’s role


Consultancy is a small company providing therapy and

and to demonstrate the broad scope of practice. Sue explains:

educational services in Brisbane, Australia. Its executive director

APO and AYAD- Teamwork for Sustainable

and senior speech pathologist, Sue Park, has experience

“Yes, they do work with speech sound production, but they also


volunteering in Fiji where until recently, few speech pathologists

work with all aspects of communication, eating and drinking,

AYAD Speech Pathologist Janine Standen adopted the motto

have worked. In 2006, Sue began to assist Australian

including: listening and understanding, vocabulary development

‘expect the unexpected’ during her assignment with a disability

businesswoman and then President of Suva Rotary, Elizabeth

and grammatical sentence construction, voice quality, fluency,

centre in the Philippines.

Clayton, by providing a rehabilitation program for a young Fijian

literacy and social communication skills.”

man. Sujit Kumar had been raised in a chicken pen as a child

“I was working in a Christian centre that operated like a school

and then tied to a bed in an old people’s home because he

Another challenge to overcome is the erroneous but unwritten

with approximately 30 students with learning disabilities, many

was deemed by his carers as uneducable. Speech Language

expectation of a speech pathologist to provide an ‘instant

of whom were non-verbal. There were often more than 50 hot

& Learning became an Australian Partner Organisation (APO)

cure’ when it may take time to achieve results. It becomes

and sweaty people in the small centre, with no roster organised

with Austraining International when Sue approached its Fiji In-

important to help Host Organisations understand that the

either for the staff or the students whose ages ranged from

Country Manager to help develop AYAD assignments based at

benefit and sustainability of speech pathology intervention lies in

3 – 27 years. Those aged under six spent their day playing or

Elizabeth’s Happy Home boy’s orphanage, with volunteers to

the counterpart being trained. This can be difficult when other

sleeping in a small room while the older students were taught

provide therapy program training for Sujit’s carer.

workplace commitments are likely to take precedence.

in English with a focus on reading, writing and arithmetic with lots of karaoke singing and dancing in between. The supervisor

Challenges and Outcomes:

In addition to the various position-specific outcomes, there has

had no formal health, education or management training, which

Speech Language & Learning and peak national body Speech

been a gradual change in the awareness of speech pathologists

made things interesting.”

Image: AYAD Cat Rowbottam working as a speech pathologist at Gospel School for the Deaf in Suva Story: Sue Park with contributions from AYADs Janine Standen, Rebecca Visintin, Cat Rowbottam and Megg Sullivan.

For Janine, ongoing communication with her In-Country

other and were separated by the Pacific Ocean, I attribute

her Fiji assignment. Sue has also been assisting Megg with her

Manager, her Supervisor and other staff at the centre meant she

the capacity building and the sustainability that arose from my


was able to achieve a number of sustainable outcomes including

assignment to the great support, communication and partnership

establishing three student groups with targeted teaching

that we had.”

according to the skills and abilities of the students. She also

“In terms of support, it’s been really great to talk with Sue in regards to what resources I might need, and what I should

instigated parent - teacher meetings to encourage the parents to

AYAD Speech Pathologist Cat Rowbottam, currently volunteering

expect when heading over to Fiji. She’s also been helpful in

take more of an interest in their children’s learning.

in Suva, faces cultural, financial and technological challenges but

setting up connections with people in-country and in Australia

has been assisted by a donation of resources organised by her

who can help out. I think having an APO will prove to be a


valuable resource in terms of helping solve any issues that may

AYAD Speech Pathologist Rebecca Visintin worked at a school for children with intellectual disabilities in Samoa. Rebecca felt her

arise and continuing to provide support directly or through people

expertise could be utilised in supporting curriculum development

“When Sue and I chat on skype, one of my favourite moments

she’s put me in touch with. It is also just nice knowing that

for the children according to their specific learning capabilities and

is when she asks, “So what can I do for you from here?” She is

someone is there at any time, if needed.”

support needs. She also found that despite numerous challenges

my link to support and resources in Australia resulting in many

she was able to develop a pathway for some sustainable

wonderful speech pathology resources being posted to Fiji.

The Future

outcomes with the help of her APO and In-Country Manager.

My assignment is the first speech pathology program at the

The Returned AYADs agree that their experience is more about

Gospel School for the Deaf and there were no speech pathology

cultural exchange than just getting a job done. As well as the

For Rebecca, that support began before she left for Samoa, with

resources such as assessments or therapy tools. These

experience of living and working in a developing nation, they

Sue helping to prioritise goals, gather resources and establish a

resources are integral in supporting me to provide an evidence

made life-long friends and explored amazing countries. The

sustainable short to long-term work plan.

based program at the school. Sue, through the Working With

benefits far outweigh the challenges for these professionals.

Developing Communities network, organised donated resources

Speech Language & Learning will continue its partnership

“Her (Sue’s) professionalism, networking skills, amazing

and the students and teachers enjoy the activities and have

with the AYAD Program, providing support and resources

resources and genuine care for AYADs went above what I could

shown progress when we use these. We are looking forward to

to volunteers while supporting Host Organisations to design

have hoped for. Pre-departure (Training) was useful, but it was

the arrival of the next box!”

positions that facilitate the most appropriate sustainable

not discipline specific. Sue gave me the confidence and the


direction to achieve my goals and make a sustainable difference

Soon-to-be AYAD Speech Pathologist Megg Sullivan has just

right from the beginning. Even though we had never met each

completed Pre-Departure Training in Canberra in preparation for


Australian Partner Organisations

The AYAD Program works with a diverse range of Australian Partner Organisations (APOs) who provide support, enthusiasm and expertise to projects in all our partner countries.


APOs are Australian government departments, non-government organisations (NGOs), educational institutions and private companies that have or wish to establish links with organisations working in development in Asia, the Pacific and Africa.

The benefits of being an Australian Partner Organisation are many and varied, including building new partnerships in our region, providing an amazing professional development opportunity for staff and making a positive contribution to development.

»»Adventist Development and Relief »»Australian Mekong Resource Agency Australia Centre

The AYAD Program would like to thank our active APOs for their involvement and support.

»»Charles Sturt University

»»Agri-Science Queensland

»»Australian National University

»»Amnesty International Australia

»»Australian Red Cross

»»Arts Access Australia

»»Australian Rugby League

»»Arup International Development

»»Australian Rugby Union

»»Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions

»»Australian Salesian Mission Overseas Fund

»»Asia Pacific Journalism Centre

»»Australian Sports Commission

»»Attorney General’s Department

»»Australian Volleyball Federation

»»Australian Broadcasting Corporation

»»Bahay Tuluyan Philippines Australia

»»CSIRO International

»»Australian Catholic University, Centre for Creative & Authentic Leadership

»»Bali Street Dog Fund

»»CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research

»»Baptist World Aid Australia »»Birds Australia

»»Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research »»Birrigai at Tidbinbilla »»Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation

If you are interested in learning more about partnering with the AYAD Program, please contact the AYAD Partnerships Team on (freecall) 1800 225 592 or partnerships@

»»Centrelink Australia

»»Box Hill Community Arts Centre

»»Australian Electoral Commission

»»Brisbane Institute of Strength Based Practice

»»Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations

»»Buk Bilong Pikinini Canberra Office

»»Australian Federation of Disability »»Burnet Institute Organisations »»Cancer Council of Queensland »»Australian Football League - »»Cardno Emerging Markets Oceania »»CARE Australia »»Australian Foundation for Peoples of the Asia Pacific »»Caritas Australia »»Australian Institute of International »»CBM Australia Affairs »»CBM Nossal Partnership

»»ChildFund Australia »»CoDesign Studio

»»Department of Justice and Attorney General (NSW) »»Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

»»Commonwealth Director of Public »»Development Gateway Prosecutions »»East Timor Women Australia »»Country Women’s Association »»Empowering Communities Australia »»Crawford Fund »»Credit Union Foundation Australia

»»Engineers Without Borders


»»Environmental Defender’s Office New South Wales

»»CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems »»Deakin University »»Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry »»Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations »»Department of Employment, Economic Development & Innovation (QLD) »»Department of Immigration and Citizenship

»»Fair Trade Films »»Federal Court of Australia »»FIBA Oceania (Oceania Basketball Confederation) »»Flinders University »»Football Federation Victoria »»Foundation for Developing Cambodian Communities »»Foundation for Development Cooperation »»Global Development Group »»Global Sustainable Energy Solutions

»»Grameen Foundation »»Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development »»Green Cross Australia and Local Government, Office of »»Griffith University, Griffith Transport Security International

Image: AYAD Michelle Hutchins during Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) training, on assignment in Thailand

»»GRM International »»Habitat for Humanity Australia

»»Menzies School of Health Research »»Merri Community Health Services

»»Health Communication Resources Inc. »»Monash University


»»University of Canberra

»»Royal Life Saving Society Australia

»»University of Melbourne

»»Salvation Army

»»University of New England

»»Save the Children Australia

»»University of Queeensland

»»Scouts Australia

»»University of Sydney

»»Sinclair Knight Merz

»»University of Tasmania

»»Southern Cross University

»»University of Western Australia »»University of Western Sydney

»»Hockey Australia

»»Murdoch University

»»Hope for Cambodian Children

»»Netball Australia

»»HOPE Worldwide (Australia)

»»New Hope Cambodia Australia

»»Humane Society International

»»New Hope Foundation

»»Industry and Investment NSW

»»Oceania Rowing Confederation

»»Speech Language & Learning: Educational Therapy Consultancy

»»International Centre for Eyecare Education

»»Oxfam Australia

»»Stop Traffick

»»Oxfam International Youth Partnerships

»»Surf Lifesaving Australia

»»International Cricket Council East Asia Pacific »»International Rugby Board »»Interplast Australia & New Zealand »»James Cook University »»JTA International

»»Pacific Asia Tourism »»Pacific Calling Partnership »»PADI Asia Pacific »»People with Disability Australia

»»Women’s Information and Referral Exchange

»»Table Tennis Australia Limited

»»World Bank Group

»»Tennis Australia

»»World Society for the Protection of Animals

»»The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award International Association - Asia Pacific Regional Office

»»Permaculture Research Institute of Australia »»The Fred Hollows Foundation

»»Kyeema Foundation

»»Plan International Australia

»»La Trobe University

»»Queensland University of Technology

»»Lotus Outreach Australia »»Many Hands International »»Marie Stopes International Australia »»Marist Asia-Pacific Solidarity »»Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance

»»White Ribbon Foundation

»»Surf Lifesaving Tasmania

»»KOTO International

»»Lifeline International

»»Wetlands International – Oceania

»»The George Institute for International Health »»The Leprosy Mission Australia


»»This Life Cambodia

»»Radio 4EB

»»UN WOMEN Australia

»»RMIT Univeristy

»»UNHCR Canberra

»»Rotary Club of Prospect

»»UNICEF Australia

»»Royal Flying Doctors Service


»»Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind

»»University of Adelaide

»»World Vision Australia »»WWF - Australia »»YWCA Australia


40 .........................................................



Exchange Magazine  

Exchange Magazine - June 2012

Exchange Magazine  

Exchange Magazine - June 2012