The Project

The project is to promote mental health and prevent mental illnesses through awareness, education and counselling.  Mental Health Services in Kiunga are provided by the network of Callan Services.

Callan Services is the largest provider of services to children and adults with disabilities in Papua New Guinea.  It is a leading disability rights, advocacy and representative Network of and for all people with disability in Papua New Guinea, with a particular focus on inclusive education and training.

As a faith-based national, cross-disability network Callan attempts to respond to the needs of people with all kinds of disability.  Respect, Presence, Compassion and Justice are at the core of Callan’s work, ensuring, that persons with disabilities are equipped to participate socially, academically and economically in their local communities.


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.

The Location

The Callan Light House Office is located in Kiunga, a Port town on the North Fly River District in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea.  It is the southernmost terminus of the Kiunga-Tabubil Highway.  Local industry rests on a cornerstone of freight and haulage, particularly from the Ok Tedi Mine and provisioning for the much larger town of Tabubil.  Natural rubber has been an emerging industry more recently, with a processing/manufacturing plan being built in tow.  The population of Kiunga [2021] is 18,747.

Kiunga has reliable 24hour power and with flights to and from Port Moresby on a regular basis.

The Challenge

With a rich and varied culture, PNG is the largest Pacific Island nation and is home to a diverse population of over 9 million people with around 850 languages and more than 76 per cent of the population under the age of 35.   Despite experiencing significant economic growth over the past decade, the benefits of this growth have not been shared equitably. For most Papua New Guineans, accessing a fair and safe livelihood, high quality education, effective health care and other basic services remains a daily challenge.

PNG has one psychiatrist per million people and one registered psychiatric nurse for every 70,000 people.  The bulk of mental health care is provided by general health workers in various types of health care facilities in the community. Traditional healing methods are widely practiced and generally outside of the healthcare system.  Traditional treatments include medicine, spells, rituals and counselling.

About You

The successful candidate will have:

  • Diploma/Certificate in Mental Health and/or qualifications in Psychiatric Nursing/Social Work
  • A caring personality with a thorough understanding of services offered and systems to follow
  • Ability to make sound decisions under pressure and de-escalate crises
  • Excellent interpersonal and listening skills
  • Empathy, tact and patience
  • Keen social perceptiveness; the ability to understand why people react the way they do
  • Critical thinking and complex problem solving skills

How You Will Help

First you must be willing to learn from the local community.

Over the first six months you are asked not to change anything or suggest a change to operations.  During that six months you will take the time to learn language and cultural mores from a local counterpart willing to mentor you.  You will also start a register of the strengths of the current personnel and the assets in the community/country that might be used to achieve the goals of the assignment.

You need to commit to clarifying why things are done the way they are rather than presuming from your own cultural lens to outline what is missing. So, you need to ask questions to enable you to learn from your hosts, rather than in ignorance make suggestions about how things can improve. Palms training will prepare you for this approach.

In the second six months you will be ready and better know which of your skills and what of your knowledge applies to:

  • Promoting positive mental health through awareness, education and counselling
  • Encouraging individuals to develop positive self-esteem
  • Involving families and communities in helping those who are unwell
  • Seeking medical advice from practicing psychiatric physician in treatment and rehabilitation when necessary
  • Providing regular follow up through visitation plans at the Centre, home, hospital, prison and through schools.
  • Providing training to different groups of people who work with vulnerable groups of children, youth and adults [Teachers, Nurses, Social Services and Callan Services]


To find out more, please contact Lalena Graham, Programs & Placement Coordinator on 02 9560 5333 or at [email protected].

Feature image: Callan Services Papua New Guinea website

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.