20 December 2011

Jenny Max, a University of Queensland Masters of Communication (Communication for Social Change) student, has received a Prime Minister's Pacific-Australia (PMPA) Award in recognition of her leadership potential and academic achievements.

The prestigious PMPA Award is provided through the Australia Awards by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).

Launched in 2010, the PMPA Awards are designed to contribute to nation-building through strengthening institutional capacity and leadership in the Pacific.

They create strong and abiding links between people in Australia and countries in the Pacific.

Thirty PMPA Awards are offered annually, with 19 recipients from PNG. Each award provides work placements and leadership training to recipients of Australian Development Scholarships and Australian Leadership Awards.

Ms Max, a high-achieving Australian Development Scholarship recipient from PNG, said she would spend three months honing her skills in an Australian organisation once she graduated in June, 2012.

She recently traveled to Canberra to meet Prime Minister Julia Gillard and receive her Award. "Meeting the Australian PM and receiving the Award was such a highlight for me and I was overwhelmed by the events," Ms Max said.

"The ceremony was held in the impressive Great Hall of Parliament House and the Awards were presented by the Hon. Senator Chris Evans, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations."

Ms Max began her remarkable career with an undergraduate degree in journalism at the University of PNG. She became the news reporter and editor of an English/Tok Pisin radio station before winning the role of Press Officer with the Media Unit of the PNG Prime Minister.

She then joined the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby, PNG, as a Public Diplomacy Officer, specialising in communication. Most recently, she moved to AusAID as a Program Officer working with Sub-National Strategy program.

"The Masters program at The University of Queensland has really changed my outlook on communication," Ms Max said.

"The field of development communication is now not just about giving people information, telling people things you think they need to hear, but about engaging in a dialogue and working towards shared understandings.

"I want to work on development that is grounded in listening to people and empowering them to come up with solutions that suit them."

She expressed her appreciation to her employer, AusAID, for recognising her potential, her UQ lecturers and the Australian Government for recognising high-achieving PNG women like her.

She dedicated this award to her mother and father (who have passed on) for their love and wisdom and also her son for his encouragement.

Ms Max will return to PNG in late 2012 and she said her dream job would involve working in a leadership role, practising what she had learned at UQ.

Media: Siena Perry, Communication and Logistics Officer, Centre for Communication and Social Change, on 07 3346 3465 or 0404 520 556.