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‘When I go back’: Experiences and expectations of PNG women scholarship graduates on return home
Supporting education through scholarships has been a long-term development strategy of the Australian Government, including in the Pacific region, most notably through the Australia Awards Linkages Framework (DFAT 2020). This sustained investment has been regularly monitored and evaluated with tracer studies of Australia Awards alumni undertaken through DFAT’s Global Tracer Facility (GTF). These studies consider alumni perceptions of their relationships with Australia, and the extent to which alumni consider they have made a development contribution on return home (Edwards et al. 2020). In contrast, there is a more limited academic literature on the experiences of Pacific scholars once they have returned home from overseas, and more particularly, the gendered nature of those experiences (Howard 2019, Howard et al. 2019). This research aims to fill this knowledge gap and asks three interrelated questions: 1.To what extent do alumnae (that is, women scholarship graduates) expect, andfeel they are able, to act as agents of change on return home? 2.What factors either support or hinder alumnae approaches to facilitate changeon return home? 3.What are the consequences of alumnae attempts at – and/or achievement of –change? In answering these questions, a small-scale pilot study was conducted with a group of women who were not only recipients of an Australia Award (AA), but had also participated in a niche enrichment program known as the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI). Since its inception in 2017, almost 130 Pacific women scholars have participated in the WLI, with half of these from Papua New Guinea (PNG), reflecting the larger pool of AA recipients from PNG.