My name is Lucy Tanu Travertz. Tanu is my village name which is very important to me and Travertz is my husband’s name. I’m still keeping it because we were married in the church and all my school and university certificates are under this name. So for administrative purposes I still retain the name even though the man is not with me. But we remain good friends. He lives in Port Moresby while I am here in Arawa.
I was born on the 28th of January 1953; I attended a village school in my own village at a very early age when I wasn’t even fit to go to school. I used to admire the other children going to school and wanted to join them. My brother was a teacher so he put me in.
I mostly received a Catholic Mission education. In village school and mission school we were forbidden to talk in ‘tok plas’ (native languages) and we were encouraged to speak either pidgin or English, but mainly English by the nuns.
In Grade 6, I was taught by an Australian lay missionary. From there I went to St. Mary’s Catholic High School in Wakunai District which is a girl’s high school. I did Grade 7 to Grade 10 there. I left for Port Moresby in 1972 to begin preliminary studies at the University Of PNG (UPNG). I wasn’t selected to go to National High School, which sort of discouraged me and I didn’t have confidence in myself so I thought maybe I’ll go to the next closest level to UPNG which is the Admin College, now known as the Institute of Public Administration. But at the same time I applied to work with Radio Bougainville and I was accepted in the job with the intention to become a radio announcer one day.
However, my name was also referred by the Admin College to the Australian Defence Administration. In 1972, I went to Port Moresby to join the Defence Administration at the cash office. I was more attracted to joining this job than the Radio Bougainville position. When I received my first pay, it really discouraged me, it was just $28.
I was always looking out for opportunities for further studies. So when the Public Service advertised scholarships for students for higher certificates, I applied straight away. I was successful and was selected to go down and attend the International Training Institute in Sydney, Australia for one year. The Public High Service Certificate I received is equivalent to matriculation (school leaving certificate). I graduated with high academic results and was in the top five students.
On return from Sydney, I wasn’t really keen to stay in the cash office because of the pressure that we went through and especially with the military personnel who were often very raw and unruly. They would not care how they spoke, or the language they used which was hurtful. They would swear without thinking, and coming from a strong Catholic home where I was brought up and being taught by nuns, that didn’t go well with me. I was very good at writing and English and because of that I decided to transfer to a section where I can use these skills. I applied to the Defence Head to transfer to Policy. I was accepted and in 1975 was transferred Defence Policy and Planning. I was the first woman and first local among the expatriates to work in that division.
I also got married in June 1975. I was about 20 years old at the time and we went to live with my husband’s parents. It was a big church wedding because my husband was the eldest. The first two years of marriage were good but after that, things went downhill. However, these problems didn’t affect my job. When I was experiencing these personal problems, I went to the Priests and the Nuns for help, I felt closer to them. Those were the only people that I could talk to, and I got a lot of encouragement from the Parish Priests. So those were my consolations from the religious people. I tried my very, very best to contain this marriage as I didn’t believe in marriage breakup as it had been a church marriage and I wanted to bring my children into this world in the right way. I didn’t have any children at the time. But towards the end of the year I lost my first child, who was a stillborn. That was a disappointment for me. I was expected to die, but maybe the good Lord had plans for me and only the baby died.
In 1977, I got promoted to Clerk Class 7 to look after the Australian-PNG Corporation desk in the Policy division.
From 1979-1980, I was seconded to go and work with the Bougainville Provincial Government for two years. So the job that I held here was Provincial Administrative Officer. I was responsible for all the staff, vehicles and logistic support in the provinces. I also used to work very closely with the community governments then. Holding that job, the incumbent is also a member of the policy secretariat, and that policy secretariat in any provincial government is a decision making body. So I was the first female to be in the policy secretariat in any provincial government. So that was for two years before returning to Port Moresby.
I returned to Defence and was later promoted to take up the office in Policy and Legislation department which was a Clerk Class 8.
In 1981, I applied for part-time studies at the University Of Papua New Guinea (UPNG). So I was taking two units each semester and at that time my husband was very supportive so I had to take up part-time employment at the horse race betting, trying to make ends meet. I had children at the time and my husband had resigned from his job without telling me to study full-time at UPNG.
In 1982, I overloaded my studies at UPNG plus part-time employment. My conscience was not right feeling that there were people out there without employment while I had two jobs and studying. So I decided to forgo the part-time employment I had with the horse racing.
While doing part-time studies, the Department of Personal Administration selected me for a three month program in Sydney. I tried to convince them that I was taking part-time studies and would be unable to go, but I still had to go to Sydney. Thankfully I was able to submit a major assignment from Sydney and thank God my results were still good. Whilst down in Sydney I had to select an organisation similar to the one I worked at in PNG. Luckily the Defence department is also in Australia, so I attached myself at the office in Canberra there for two weeks for on the job training.
From 1983-1985, I continued my work with the Policy and Legislation department. Then I applied for the Free Play Scholarship which is usually awarded to Senior Public Servants to go on full time study at any university. So I was accepted and in 1985 I went on full time study at University. I completed my studies in 1987 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Psychology in 1988 and was also six months pregnant at the time with my youngest child.
For me my problems with my marriage I saw as stepping stones, it made me a very strong willed person and I don’t see those as stumbling blocks.
With my new degree, the Secretary for Defence thought I would be better off in a management position. So I was placed down in the management section and was the Assistant Secretary Management for three years from 1988 to 1990. Whilst there I applied for a post-graduate management studies and in 1991 was accepted at the University of Central Queensland in North Rockhampton. When I returned to work, the Secretary had changed and I was called back to Policy and legislation which was disappointing as I had enjoyed working in the management section.
I began looking for ways to get out of Defence, so started looking at other avenues for employment. In 1993, I found a job with Telikom and by 1996 had been promoted (worked my way up) to manager of the occupational safety and welfare position.
From 1999 to 2003 I was awarded a contract for an Executive Manager of Human Resources position with Telikom. In 2003, there was a reorganization of Telikom and I went back to my old position of Manager of Occupational Safety and Welfare.
I applied for the position of Executive Manager for Kieta District. But my real interest was for the position for Chief Executive Officer for Human Resources because of my background and previous experience but somebody else won the position. When he completed his 3 year contract and left, I was asked to go and take his place but I refused.
I refused because my view from the outset I was that I was fully qualified and despite being a member of the PNG Human Resource Institute where I had been Vice President and also the same for the PNG Occupational Health Safety Association together with good references they had still disregarded my initial application as CEO. Even now they still ask me to go back, but I refused.
In those two professional organizations I had always been the only female member. It was an extra-curricular activity that helped me professionally.
I attended a Women’s Executive Meeting in Sydney up in the Blue Mountains. When I came back I initiated a women’s networking in Telikom. My core business there was to help women progress up to the decision making area. I also organised workplace based training for the women as well. But it was very difficult, maybe if I had more time I could supervise them but what I see is that even when you encourage women, they still hold back. They need to have a bit of their own stamina, will power and ambition in order to get to where they want to go. I’ve tried to encourage women during my time in the Defence Force and while working at Telikom. I continue to encourage female team leaders in the different sectors in my current administration.
Maybe because we are conditioned by our culture to hold back. And it will take a lot of time for women to come out of that. In Bougainville, I think we were coming out of that and this Crisis started. So now we’ve gone 20 years back and it will take time. But now more and more young women are going to school, but that group of people that have missed out, all we can assist them with would be life-skills type of training maybe because most of them are now married. I always say it’s a time bomb we are sitting on, and we must really do something.
My achievements in Telikom include my wellness and safety programs. I would coordinate helicopter and aviation safety programs as well. Where I didn’t have the resources I would tap into international resources and professionals outside like Australia. I would also travel right around PNG conducting all these programs for workers. I also worked with the churches especially the Catholic Church on family life programs. If we saw that a lot of our Telikom employees were sick or having respiratory problems, we would organise consultations with outside professionals.
I also organised training with St. John’s Ambulance in Australia for basic training in first aid. Whilst doing that it has helped me to learn, and I would go to my programs to Telikom employees in all the provinces. I think I was the most well travelled person in Telikom. I’ve learnt so much.
When I returned to Arawa, even though I’m from here I’d been away for 33 years, I noticed that the people were totally different. The Crisis had changed them. When I was in Port Moresby I thought that I would come back to Arawa and make a change so rapidly and this is the type of mentality that Bougainvilleans in Port Moresby have, and I was so wrong because there are so many impediments here now.
In 2008, I totally refused to entertain crisis related claims from well before my time and I had to sit them down and say the ABG does not have the money to pay for such amounts being claimed. The ABG is still a baby; we still rely on PNG for much of our money, money which should be used to help the ABG grow, and not on these crisis claims.
I’ve faced a lot of challenges upon my return to Bougainville. My brother and my family came down and told me to pack up and go back to Port Moresby. I was actually in Buka petitioning with the Police Commissioner not to withdraw the police from Arawa, when my office was vandalised. My brother told me to pack up and go, and I refused. The challenge made me stronger to stay back.
The house that I stayed in was claimed by the Catholic women but a helicopter company that used to be based in Arawa used to own the house and had left everything to the Arawa District Administration. However I was asked to pay for the house by the so called Catholic women and ended up paying K14,000.
Last year an ex-combatant accused me of hiding someone’s ballot paper during the 2012 PNG National Elections. I was a returning officer for Central. I was also involved in the 2009 Presidential By-Election, 2010 ABG Elections. The claim made against me was ridiculous as counting of votes is so open. So one of that person’s supporters came and vandalised my house. At that point my family and Chiefs nearly staged a war which would have disturbed everything and ruined the whole peace process. But because it was prayfully addressed it did not get to that level however, today the person who accused me has never reconciled. It was at that time that I wanted to give up and go back to Port Moresby.
For my safety, my family then put me under house arrest and my nephews who were ex-combatants slept around the house. My Chiefs were also sleeping in the house. I was under house arrest for two months; they didn’t want me to go back to work. That’s when I wanted to resign and return to Port Moresby. Then many people started talking to me and I thought about my Kieta District office relocation and its officers. I went to Human Resources to resign but I was given another three year contract which I signed. I have been encouraged to stay back and establish the Kieta District relocation, the office has been built and this year we will complete two staff houses too. We should make the move by April or May. My goal is to establish the structure of the administration as well as outsourcing technical expertise to help establish other plans that I have already developed into phases like a clinic, police post, community hall, international school and public servants sports facility. I have already approached a technical person who is going to set everything out in my plans properly.
My core business is to strengthen and enhance capacity and I have many plans for Kieta District. Most are to do with infrastructure and one of these plans is also to make sure the feeder roads reach right up into the mountains for the rural and remote village communities.
As for my married life, I have been separated from my husband now for 24 years, not legally. But my children have a good relationship with both of us. I believe in my children and I think when you focus on your children you will be in the right frame of mind too. My children, even in school many people, the teachers always say ‘Lucy your children are not like kids brought up in a home with one parent, they are well behaved’, but I think it depends how that one parent has given his or her time. I don’t say it is a broken home, the family is still together, just one man decided to leave, otherwise the rest of the family is together and it is not broken. Its how that one parent has looked after and nurtured those kids. I’m also very specific with not letting my relatives look after my children too. Whenever I had problems, my parents would want to come and look after the children but I wouldn’t let them. I would solve mine and my children’s problems together. It makes you closer to your children too and your children become very responsive and determined and loving as well. So I sometimes share the way I brought up my children with my friends. Otherwise my husband and I are good friends, when in Port Moresby I visit his parents and maintain a good relationship. We talk more freely now than we did when we were together.