Definition of Youth

According to the report Urban Youth in the Pacific (2011), the National Youth Policy of Papua New Guinea 2007-2017 (print only) defines youth as between 12 and 25 years old, however also welcomes individuals over 25 to participate in youth programming. Culturally, age of youth is defined by roles, health and involvement in the community.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 18
  • 16
  • XX
  • Female
  • 16
  • 14
  • --

  • Under statutory marriage, individuals must be over 21, however in customary law, emphasis is rather on physical maturity. Homosexual acts between males are illegal. While homosexual acts between females are legal, there is no specific legislation for same-sex marriage. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Source:  Juvenile Courts Act of Papua New Guinea

Majority Age


While the Constitution and the Organic Law (1995) recognise majority at 18, this is often not in harmony with domestic law. Source: UN Child Rights Periodic Report (2002)

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 66.30% Male (15-24) %
  • 78.79% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • --Male %
  • -- Female %
  • Year: No data.
  • Source: UNESCO

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • 55.40% Male (13-15) %
  • 40.30% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
The national youth policy of Papua New Guinea covers 2007-2017. A 2011 book chapter provides details.

As described in Urban Youth in the Pacific (2011), the national youth policy (in print only) identifies nine key policy areas, including:

  • Improving the quality of young peoples’ lives
  • Accessing integrated education
  • Nurturing sustainable livelihoods
  • Promoting healthy lifestyles
  • Building stronger communities
Initiatives include youth-led enterprises, and counselling through “youth-friendly” service centres. In his endorsement of the policy in February 2008, former Prime Minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare announced that the policy would require PGK 21 million (USD 7.6 million in February 2008) over ten years for its implementation. As reported by FijiOne in February 2014, parliament also approved a new National Youth Development Authority Act, replacing the National Youth Commission Act (1999). The act is intended to reform youth work delivery mechanisms and to complement the 2007-2017 youth policy.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The National Youth Commission (NYC) is the central government agency responsible for youth development in Papua New Guinea and is part of the Ministry for Religion, Youth and Community Development. It was established in 1980 and its focus is on three core ideas: “mobilization”, “participation” and “productiveness” of young people. Its Policy Development, Coordination & Research Division is responsible for the coordination and development of the national youth policy (in print only). The Division also assists provinces in the development of five-year youth plans.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
According to the Pacific Youth Council, a regional organisation of youth councils in the Pacific, Papua New Guinea had a national youth council in 1985, which participated in a series of meetings leading to the formation of the regional council in 1996. The website also lists Papua New Guinea as having a position on the Secretariat Committee from 2000-2006. However, the current list of national youth council members does not include Papua New Guinea, nor is there any current online presence for a Papua New Guinea youth council.

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
PGK 4.4 million
USD 1.7 million
The 2013 National Budget listed the expenditures of the National Youth Commission as PGK 4.4 million (USD 1.7 million). The programme description includes marketing of the national youth policy, establishing financial autonomy implementation strategies, and providing technical advisory services. The World Bank lists no data on public spending on education in Papua New Guinea since 2000.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank
Gaps indicate missing data from the original data source. (Accessed August 2013).

Additional Background

From Urban Youth in the Pacific (2011):

In the justice system, a juvenile is legally defined as an individual between seven and 17 years old inclusively. Culturally however, the age of youth depends on roles, health and involvement in community life. This actually has significant policy and development implications because it has meant that adults (predominately older men) claim to be youth in an attempt to represent young people in power structures and activities. This can be an obstacle for young people’s voices to be heard and for adequate gender perspectives to be taken into consideration in decision- making forums [...]

The National Youth Commission (NYC) under the Ministry of Community Development is the lead national body charged with youth development across the country. Its main tasks are to develop and implement the National Youth Policy, provide policy and technical advice to the Government, undertake research, and coordinate and monitor youth programmes. The NYC has been criticized by some stakeholders for its poor transition from policy development to implementation.

Implementation has been poor due to a lack of political will from government resulting in a lack of resources, as well as insufficient coordination and personnel capacity even when funding is available. As an example, the NYC has funding for the establishment of Youth Friendly Service Centres throughout the country, but to date only two have been established with a third under construction as of June 2010. For some other key proposed programmes, there is no budget available for implementation. Moreover, the Annual Work Plans and Action Plans the NYC are not in-line with the National Youth Policy, and performance indicators are not always measurable and/or are partial outputs rather than outcomes or results for youth in their lives [...]

The first National Youth Summit was held in 2006 and the first National Youth Parliament in 2007. These were both important opportunities for young people to display leadership and express their opinion at the national level. The National Youth Commission  [...] organized both events and a second Youth Parliament is planned for 2012, dependent on funding. Young people, civil society organizations and relevant government officials all felt that these events should be held more often to assist young people to build confidence, skills in advocacy and ensure their civic participation.