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In promoting gender equality in the custom agencies especially air and seaports, 43 women from the 15 countries graduated from the Pacific Women’s Professional Development Program (PWPDP) alumni initiative which aims to advance women’s leadership pathway.

This is through the initiative of the Oceania Customs Organization (OCO), Australian Border Force (ABF) and RMIT University. The next generation of women Customs officers are being empowered to lead positive protection measures at our international borders. 

Speaking at the graduation ceremony, the OCO Head of Secretariat Nancy Oraka said “Gender diversity is critical at all levels of Customs Administrations to ensure more effective outcomes for global trade facilitation and national security.”

Emphasizing on Australia’s commitment to the Pacific region, ABF Deputy Commissioner Kaylene Zakharoff commended the graduating officers.

“Protecting our international borders requires leaders with passion, dedication and integrity, leaders who can face the future with confidence and who are prepared to innovate and do things differently,” Zakharoff said.

“You have shown that you are these leaders, and Australia looks forward to working in partnership to keep our borders secure.”

On that note, Associate Director of RMIT University’s Transnational Security Centre, Phillip Dowler, presented the certificates to all the participants, congratulated officers on their robust academic studies.

One of the graduates of PWPDP Matamaki Elizabeth Tetauru from the Cook Islands Customs Service said they relied on ports for essential goods but they were also high-risk arenas for transnational crimes.

“Detecting drug trafficking, preventing the importation of dangerous and prohibited goods, preventing tax evasion is all part of what we do to keep our borders safe. We need the best workforce of both women and men. I am proud to represent my agency, and I recommend Customs as a career choice for other women who have a passion to serve and protect their families, communities, country and the wider Pacific region,” Tetauru said.

These women graduated will work alongside their male counterparts to deliver and ensure our borders are secured.

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