Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea

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Through our work with 41 partners VSO PNG is planning to reach 6,730 practitioners delivering an improved service to 250,120 people by 2016.

We strengthen health, education and gender equality for PNG’s most disadvantaged people, including rural populations, persons with disabilities, women and girls, and people living with HIV and AIDS.  

7 000 000
Capital city
Port Moresby
GDP per capita
US$1 800
HDI ranking
153 out of 187
Life expectancy
57 years

VSO PNG staff and volunteers

Why PNG?

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is the second largest island in the world, with one of the most diverse populations on the planet, yet it is little known and greatly misunderstood.  With unspoilt landscape both above and below the water, abundant wildlife and colourful culture, PNG is a placement country for the intrepid and the trailblazers.

As there are few NGOs working in PNG it is possible to play a part in projects that break new ground and have real impact.  From working collaboratively with your PNG counterparts to design a new health project, to creating multimedia resources, to training teachers of the future; it is truly possible to play a vital role in making real progress within essential services.

The VSO PNG team supports over 30 volunteers working across the diverse country.  We've worked in PNG since 1960, when VSO opened its first permanent overseas office.  Since then, volunteers have forged a strong reputation in the country, from remote communities in the Riakos to government departments in the capital, Port Moresby.

Whether it be a career break, career development, or retirement volunteer opportunity you seek, PNG offers challenges, learning opportunities and a chance to leave a lasting legacy in its development.

The busy country office focuses on education, health, gender and governance:


Education levels in PNG are low and although education is free, many children do not go to school or drop out before completing primary education.  

Our main priority in education is to support the implementation of universal basic education so that all children in PNG complete nine years of free, quality education.  

We work to improve the quality of education and education management in schools. We work with teacher training institutions to increase the quality of teachers and support reforms in teacher training.  We expand the opportunities for girls, out of school rural youth, vulnerable children and children with disabilities to access education and to benefit from the prospects it affords.

Find out more by reading the stories of some of our education volunteers, like Kate Evans who's enhancing the skills of student teachers.


PNG has some of the worst health indicators in the Pacific: almost half of all women give birth without assistance, maternal and infant death rates and communicable diseases account for around 60% of the total disease burden, and the incidence of malnutrition in children under five (based on indicators including low birth weights, stunting and wasting) has not significantly decreased over time.

The health programmes main areas of focus are in nurse education and nutrition projects to increase access and quality of services and resources, increase accountability of decision-makers and power-holders, increase voice and influence of poor and marginalised groups, and ensure more equitable and better implemented policies based on evidence and community feedback. 

We also work to strengthen the capacity of provincial/district and local entities to deliver an effective and coordinated response to HIV and AIDS.  Our volunteers are working with Provincial AIDS Councils to ensure the coordination of relevant responses and also to enhance national monitoring of sexually transmitted infections and the HIV epidemic.

Read about the experiences of Dr Gert Van Den Berg, a volunteer in the obstretics and gynaecology unit of a PNG hospital.

Gender equality

PNG has some of the highest rates of Family Sexual Violence (FSV) in the world for a country not at war. Women and girls are disadvantaged in numerous ways, mother and child mortality is high and educational enrolment rates for girls are low, so addressing gender inequity is at the core of our work. 

VSO PNG is developing a national response to mitigate the impact of FSV. Focussing on the prevention and treatment of sexual violence, this programme supports the coordination and integration of services at national and provincial level.  We also address gender inequality through our advocacy work to increase women’s participation and influence in political life and decision-making forums in PNG. Our volunteers are working with national women’s groups and women’s rights organisations, helping to build their capacity to support the participation and influence of women in public life.


In this new programme area, we are focusing on building the IT capacity of the department of finance in each province, so that they can manage the country’s finances in a secure, transparent and accountable manner.  We have also started an exciting new project, building provincial capacity in disaster risk reduction. 

Contact us

Get in touch with VSO Papua New Guinea at:
PO Box 1061, Madang, Madang Province, Papua New Guinea

Telephone: (+675) 4221924/4221925

You can also keep in touch with us via Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.

Find out about volunteering

By volunteering with VSO in PNG you get to put your skills, energy and personal qualities to work, helping people break out of poverty. Interested in volunteering in one of the most unexplored, unique countries in the world?  A role in PNG might be just what you are looking for.