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20 January 2018

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Interesting observation from Trevor who asks did any young women ever apply to become kiaps. I suspect that if they did they would not have made the cut-off list for interview because of the prevailing male-oriented attitudes of the day.

If the jobs were advertised today you can bet your boots that women would have been added to the shortlist but would it be tokenism?

In reality, I suspect that even if a woman was recruited she would not have been able to operate effectively because of the probable lack of respect she would have encountered in many of the societies she may have patrolled in. If in fact she was permitted to undertake solo patrols those years ago.

Yes we had no experience in road or airstrip construction when recruited but we soon learnt. I had a professional DCA airstrip inspector, Jack Adame, teach me how to construct an airfield and at least one of these is still operating.

And some of my roads are still open although I suspect that after all these years the bridges and culverts have been replaced. This after climbing a cliff face with gelignite sticks in my belt and a fuse and detonator in my mouth to clear a rock lock up. Yes, I had a permit to use explosives after passing an instruction course and exam.

I've been back-to-back with my ADC in the middle of a tribal fight after knowing that there was death threat against us if we interfered. I've also spent Christmas alone in the bush looking for a crashed aircraft which to this day has never been found.

We did anthropological studies to learn about the local customs in general terms and we learned tok pisin at ASOPA before we left Australia. On arrival in PNG and out to our individual postings we were instructed on local customs and observations by our ADCs.

We could not administer justice as appointed magistrates until we had spent at least three years in the field and attended and satisfactorily passed the training course. This included considering the Recognition of Native Customs Ordinance in our court decisions.

I spent a total of thirteen and a half years there, Trevor, most of which was spent training national officers to do the job as well as I had seen many of my senior colleagues do. If Independence was to work, they had to be efficient and respected as we were.

Yes, I made mistakes and, I guess, most of my former colleagues will own up that they could have done some things better if given the time over again.

The newspaper advertisement calls for applications from "young men and women."

Could all the former kiaps who lived in the TPNG tell us how many "young women" became Cadet Patrol Officers?

I look forward to reading how this cohort ("young women") experienced their time as kiaps.

I suspect that none was ever recruited. But plenty became typists in the Administration offices, held the fort and ran the real everyday activities which kept life ticking-over, while their male colleagues went out having fun and 'playing God' while trying to build roads/airstrips (the kiaps being complete amateurs) and punishing local people for matters over which the kiaps had no knowledge or experience.

As far as I know there was never any policy relating to the welfare of children.

In traditional PNG society, children were precious things and were looked after by their parents and extended family. If a parent died, then the children would be cared for by their Uncles and Aunties.

Sometimes, if a couple were childless, then their close relatives who had a lot of children might give them one to raise as their own, analogous to our notion of adoption.

In 5 years in PNG I never saw or heard of one instance of child abuse, sexual or otherwise.

There were, however, some marriages between very old men and very young women that we might well regard as abusive in some sense, but that was the tradition and, as kiaps, we tended to go with tradition unless it was patently illegal or unjust.

So, no stolen generation in PNG that I am aware of.

I have often wondered whether there was any policy of removing children from families in PNG as there was for Aboriginal Australians. If not, why not? The same governments that were hell bent on assimilation seem to have not practised the same policy in PNG - a few miles north of Australia..

What instructions were given to kiaps and what was the policy? I have been told that the Australian Government would not have dreamed of doing so because the UN was looking over their shoulders and "..they were not our blacks".

Was there any policy and where would I find it?

If the Australian administration did not remove children and admit that they knew the practice was wrong it makes the protestations that "We did not know" or " no-one imagined that it was wrong" that greeted the Royal Commission into the Stolen Generation look a bit self serving.

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