The Project

In this innovative community development project, the Diocese of Kiunga has requested a qualified and experienced counsellor to:

  1. Provide professional skill development to local counselling staff in support of improved pastoral care programs for local community members, and
  2. Provide clinical services to local youth, couples, victims of domestic violence, and persons with disabilities in the Diocesan area.

With few counselling services available in Papua New Guinea, and no qualified psychologists or counsellors in Kiunga, the task of providing this service falls to locals who are passionate about supporting their community but who lack the training to provide high quality, evidence-based clinical support. By training local staff and encouraging them to undertake further study, the volunteer will be supporting the development of quality counselling services for this community in remote Papua New Guinea and providing a model that may be utilised by other Diocese in PNG to develop their own counselling services.

Note: The monthly living allowance enables you to live a modest local lifestyle. Based on the cost of living in a particular country, it covers food, your daily commute, communication and other local costs. It is not set to enable you to meet financial commitments at home, such as a mortgage or a personal loan.  It will not cover the costs of eating out and other entertainment. Read more about what is covered in our FAQ. All applicants will be required to complete a Working with Children and Police Check.

The Location

The Diocese office is located in Kiunga, a town in the Western Provinces of Papua New Guinea.

Kiunga has less developed infrastructure than major towns. Hot water and air conditioning are rare and few residents have cars. However, most homes will have fans and most places will be within walking distance. Power in remote regions of Papua New Guinea is developing rapidly. You can expect to have internet, though it may be slow and intermittent.

Kiunga is safer than Port Moresby but caution should be exercised, particularly at night. It is recommended that foreigners take time to build their relationship with colleagues and avoid walking alone.


The Challenge

The Diocese of Kiunga has recognised the community-wide benefits of providing an accessible, quality counselling service. Of the need for this service, Bishop Gilles said “People who go through difficulties cannot perform well, run into all kinds of problems at home and at work and make it difficult for their contribution to the life of the community or family.”

For this role, cross-cultural sensitivity is essential in providing locally accepted, practicable services. The volunteer must be respectful of local customs and values both when working with staff and when conducting sessions with clients.



About You

Bishop Gilles requested an Australian volunteer as he observed “There is nobody with such skills in our Diocese. In PNG as a whole, there is a great shortage of persons with counselling skills, psychologists, etc.”

To address this shortage, Palms has been requested to recruit a qualified and experienced counseller for a 24-month assignment in Kiunga. The successful candidate will demonstrate:

  • A qualification in counselling or clinical psychology from a recognised institution
  • Experience in clinical practice
  • Experience working in underprivileged or regional communities and with vulnerable persons (desired)
  • Cultural sensitivity and willingness to live and work in a remote community for up to two years
  • Willingness to learn the local language

Being able work within the local team and adjust theory to the local context is a must:

“There are things that can be done at home but not in the Melanesian culture. Relationships need to be taken care of. Counselling in a cross-cultural context requires an understanding of the culture, and how one can adapt counselling skills to suit.” – Bishop Gilles

How You Will Help

At the conclusion of this project, the volunteer will have supported:

  • Staff to be better able to counsel community members approaching them for assistance,
  • Staff knowledge of theory and best practice in counselling and psychology,
  • Staff confidence in their own capacity to respond to counselling requests,
  • Clients confidence in approaching Diocesan staff for counselling support, and
  • Clients to better manage their relationships and challenges.

As staff training will be built from a limited foundation of knowledge, this role is expected to take place over two years. This time will enable the volunteer to learn the local language and become attuned to local cultural sensitivities, each of which is critical to providing quality clinical services to clients.

Think you have what it takes? Register your interest

    I am not a citizen of Australia or New Zealand.I am a citizen of Australia or New Zealand.
    * Successful applicants must be available to attend an orientation course in Sydney. Palms Australia will not fund international flights and will not sponsor visas to attend this course. Read our FAQ for more.