Australia's Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs says Papua New Guinea is critical to Australia's future, but most Australians know little about their closest neighbour.
Richard Marles has been co-hosting a symposium on PNG today at Deakin University in Melbourne, which has brought together political and business leaders, academics and NGOs.
Mr Marles says while the significance of PNG is understood at a government level, most Australians would not be aware of its rapidly increasing population or economic growth.
But he says while there's been a declining public interest in PNG, the one-day symposium has been oversubscribed.
"It's basically a very positive sign about the interest in this and I think this is going to provide at an academic level a bit of a renewed focus for academia on PNG and that's a good start in the overall strategy of trying to raise awareness within Australia about this magical country to our north."
Richard Marles says a bigger facility will be needed for next year's symposium.