Australia and Papua New Guinea
Of any people in the world, Papua New Guineans arguably have had the longest relationship with Australia. Some historians report that the first people to come to Australia came via Papua New Guinea probably around 50,000 years ago.
In the modern era, especially in the later 1800s, the island of New Guinea and its three main territories (Western New Guinea, New Guinea, and Papua) were outposts of Dutch, German and British colonies and as such interacted with the British colonies of Australia and the post 1901 nation of Australia. Today, people from Papua New Guinea or those of Papuan New Guinean descent live in Australia or come here to work.
The Names New Guinea and Papua
Over the years, the territories of the island of New Guinea have had different names that can be confusing. Generally, Papua is the name for the south eastern part of the island of New Guinea, which in 1902 came under the authority of the new nation of Australia. The name New Guinea often refers to the north eastern part of the island, which came under Australian control after World War 1. The western half of the island is currently called Western New Guinea and is now part of Indonesia. It was a colony of The Netherlands.
After World War 11, the territories of Papua and New Guinea became a union, administered by Australia. Papua New Guinea gained its independence from Australia in 1975.
Australia, Papua and New Guinea During World War II
The relationship of Australia and Papua and New Guinea was especially deepened by the events of World War II. Wikipedia notes that:
“Shortly after the start of the Pacific War [in December 1941], the island of New Guinea was invaded by the Japanese. Most of West Papua, at that time known as Dutch New Guinea, was occupied, as were large parts of the Territory of New Guinea but the Territory of Papua was protected to a large extent by its southern location and the near-impassable Owen Stanley Ranges to the north.”
“Bitter fighting continued in New Guinea between the largely Australian force and the Japanese 18th Army based in New Guinea until the Surrender of Japan to end the war on September 2, 1945. The New Guinea campaign was a major campaign of the Pacific War. In all, some 200,000 Japanese soldiers, sailors and airmen died during the campaign against approximately 7,000 Australian and 7,000 American [killed] service personnel.”
The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels
The Anzac Portal reveals one especially important relationship between Allied troops and local Papua New Guineans during World War II: “The great majority of the 18,000 New Guineans who participated in the campaign did so as carriers of supplies for the Allies, though 800 men from the Papuan Infantry Battalion and the Royal Papuan Constabulary fought against the Japanese in 1942.”
One especially respected carrier work of the Papua New Guineans during the war was their aid to wounded Australian troops. The Anzac Portal continues, “Teams carried seriously wounded and sick Australian soldiers all the way back to Owers’ Corner [at the end of the trail from Kokoda.] They earned admiration and respect from the Australians, who dubbed these men their ‘fuzzy wuzzy angels’”.
Papuan New Guineans in Australia in the 19th – 20th Centuries
Museums Victoria reports that “The first Papua New Guinean visitors to Australia were most likely mission-sponsored villagers and boat crews who arrived before 1870. They were followed by significant numbers of labourers recruited to work in the Queensland sugar industry, some of them kidnapped and forced to work. Whilst most of this group eventually returned home, some stayed and became part of the Pacific Islander community in Queensland.
“From the early 20th century, the White Australia Policy restricted Papua New Guinean immigration to Australia. Exemptions were made for those who came to work in the Queensland pearl fisheries.”
Papua New Guinean Australians Today
Wikipedia notes that “At the time of the 2011 Australian census, there were 15,460 people of Papua New Guinean descent in Australia and 26,787 Papua New Guinea-born people residing in the country. The gap between the two figures reflects the fact that many of those born in PNG were the children of Australian expatriates; only 8,752 (less than one-third) of Australian residents born in PNG reported that they were of Papua New Guinean ancestry.”
Papua New Guineans in Victoria
Museums Victoria also reports that from the early 20th century “In Victoria, the [PNG] community remained small for several more decades, with just 39 people from Papua and New Guinea – which were then administered separately by Australia – recorded in 1921.
“The number of Papuans and New Guineans settling in Victoria increased with the relaxation of the White Australia Policy in the 1960s, and by 1971 the population was 1,093…The Papua New Guinea-born population of Victoria increased gradually to 2,430 in 1991. In 2016, the number had remained steady at 2,607.
“Few recent arrivals are indigenous Papua New Guineans. The greater proportion of the community is of European descent, and many are the children of Australians who went to Papua New Guinea for work during the years that it was administered by Australia.
“In Victoria today, the community of those from Papua New Guinea is relatively young, with 50% under the age of 40. The majority are Christian, and most speak English at home. About half of those employed work in professional roles, while many others work in trades, service or clerical roles.”
Australian Visas for Papua New Guineans
Many of the citizens of Papua New Guinea who contact Migration Ways are tradesmen who have worked or who want to work in Australia’s mines and industries or gain Australian Permanent Residence. With that in mind, the following visas might be helpful to them to work and live in Australia.
Workers, visitors and students from Papua New Guinea need a visa to enter Australia. They should investigate the following Australian visa options, starting with work related visas:
The Pacific Seasonal Worker Program
According to the Australian Department of Employment, “The Seasonal Worker Program started on 1 July 2012 building on the Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme in contributing to the economic development of participating countries, while also offering Australian employers in the horticulture industry access to workers from eight Pacific island nations and Timor-Leste when they cannot find enough local labour to satisfy seasonal demand.” Learn more about the Seasonal Worker Program and if it may be applicable to you.
There are at least three main Skilled visa options that will allow recipients to live and work in Australia. Read more about the 189, 190 and 491 visas.
Australia’s two new Regional visas are a good option to consider re working, living and studying in Regional Australia, which now includes all of Australia except for the state capitals of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Learn more about the potential opportunities of the 491 and 494 Regional visas.
There are at least seven main Australian work visas, especially the 482 Temporary Skill Shortage visa. Learn more about Australia’s work visas.
Australian Occupation Lists reveal what occupations are currently in demand across Australia. From this Australian Department of Home Affairs page, read the lists of visas “available to individuals who are qualified to work or train in an eligible skilled occupation in Australia and can meet all other requirements”.
State Visa Occupation and Nomination Lists
Read this short article to learn more about occupations in demand in the state of Victoria, the home state of the main office of Migration Ways.
Which Visa You Can Get List
Other Australian Visa Options
Australian Visitor Visa
Permanent Residence Visas
There are five main categories of Australian Permanent Residence visas. Learn more about Permanent Residence visas.
Australian Student Visas
Consider one of the Australian Student visas as an option for you to live and study in Australia. Learn more about Australian Student visas.
For More Australian Visa Information for PNG Citizens
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