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Your location: Performance > Outcome 3 > Output 3.1 > 3.1.2 Projecting a positive image of Australia internationally

OUTPUT 3.1: Public information services and public diplomacy

3.1.2 Projecting a positive image of Australia internationally

On this page: Overview :: Public diplomacy overseas :: Public affairs material :: Special Visits Program :: International media :: Cultural visitors :: Promotion of Australian culture :: Bilateral engagement: creating people-to-people links :: ABC Asia Pacific satellite television

Overview

The department again undertook an extensive public diplomacy effort to project a positive, accurate and contemporary image of Australia internationally. Key elements of these programs and activities included:

The department's international and regional media monitoring showed that 2002–03 was an exceptionally busy year for international reporting of issues related to Australia. These included Australia's position on Iraq; Australia's strong economic performance; negotiations on free trade agreements with Singapore, Thailand and the United States; our efforts to counter terrorist activity following the Bali bombings; and our domestic terrorism-awareness campaign. There was also extensive coverage in South-East Asia of Australian travel advisories for countries in the region. Reporting on people smuggling and other immigration issues decreased.

Close monitoring of this reporting enabled the department to distribute targeted public affairs material directly, and through the department's websites, to help our posts overseas respond quickly and effectively to media inquiries and counter misconceptions. Our posts countered negative or inaccurate reporting on a number of issues, including lingering perceptions of a 'backlash' against Australia's Muslim community following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks and the Bali bombings, Indigenous issues, regional misunderstandings of Australian travel advice, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus outbreak, the recall of Pan Pharmaceuticals products and kangaroo culling.

Public diplomacy overseas

Australian posts conducted over 2800 public diplomacy briefings, events and initiatives over the year. These were used to promote Australia's foreign and trade policy interests and to foster a contemporary and accurate understanding of Australian society. These included:

A number of posts—particularly in the Middle East and Asia—postponed or cancelled public diplomacy events because of the international security situation or the outbreak of the SARS virus. Some planned visits under the International Media Visits program (see page 160) also did not eventuate.

Public affairs material

While increasingly using the Internet as our major distribution platform for international public affairs material, the department continued to produce hard copy publications for direct distribution to target audiences overseas. These include a broad series of fact sheets, trade advocacy publications and the reference booklet Australia in brief.

This material is distributed with key messages, talking points and background information on specific issues to international media representatives and other target groups to contribute to an increased understanding of Australian perspectives and to contribute to more balanced international reporting.

We produced an updated version of Australia in brief highlighting Australia's trade, investment and new economy credentials. Ninety thousand copies of the publication were provided to posts for distribution to international media, academics, government representatives and other target audiences. We began production of several foreign language versions of the booklet, to be completed in 2003–04.

In response to demand from posts, the department produced a generic PowerPoint presentation and video and photographic material highlighting Australia's strengths as a sophisticated, tolerant, innovative and technologically advanced nation. We also produced a short video on Australia's Muslim community—this was used by media outlets in the region.

Special Visits Program

The Special Visits Program (SVP) is the department's premier visits program. It is targeted at bringing to Australia influential individuals who can—on their return home—contribute to a greater understanding of Australia's policies and institutions. The SVP allows the department to build a valuable long-term network of international contacts likely to be in positions that deal with issues of direct relevance to Australia's interests. The department organised 31 visits this year, including:

International media

The department's International Media Visits program, which arranges targeted working visits by senior international journalists and commentators, generated international media coverage in support of Australian foreign and trade policy objectives.

A total of 42 overseas media representatives were assisted to visit Australia under the IMV program. They came from Belgium, Brunei, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Republic of Korea and the United States. Some planned visits did not eventuate due the uncertain international security situation and the outbreak of the SARS virus.

These visits generated positive reporting in influential media outlets on issues such as Australia's international trade policies, agricultural liberalisation, the strong performance of the Australian economy, innovative Australian industries and scientific achievements and positive reporting on the integration of Muslim communities in Australia. Feedback from participants, our overseas posts and external clients was uniformly positive.

The department's International Media Centre in Sydney provided resident and foreign media with background information, briefings, advice and logistics support to help them report accurately on Australia. The centre's activities included coordinating a visit to Canberra by 22 foreign correspondents for interviews with ministers and briefings by senior government officials.

Cultural visitors

The department funded and organised 21 programs for visitors from 14 countries during 2002–03 under the Cultural Awards Scheme. The visitors included cultural journalists, festival organisers, gallery and museum directors, performing arts administrators, an artist and an arts promoter. The program has generated valuable commercial opportunities for Australian performing arts companies and has led to the establishment of collaborative projects and exchanges for Australian galleries and museums. Visit programs also resulted in positive press coverage on Australian culture in a diverse range of international media during the year.

Promotion of Australian culture

The department continued to use art and culture as a platform for projecting a positive and contemporary image of Australia internationally.

Australia International Cultural Council

The Australian International Cultural Council (AICC) is the peak consultative group for the promotion of Australian culture overseas. It is also the department's primary vehicle for delivering high-quality platform events overseas, aimed at projecting a positive image of Australia, advancing foreign and trade policy interests, and promoting the export of Australian cultural products. Chaired by Mr Downer, the AICC comprises senior figures from the arts community, business and government arts agencies. The department provides the AICC secretariat and plays a lead role in delivering AICC programs, particularly through our network of overseas posts. We work closely with the Australia Council for the Arts and the Australian Film Commission, both of which are represented on the AICC.

AICC promotions during the year included major presentations in Germany, China and the United States. For the Berlin summer season, the AICC presented artsaustralia berlin 02 and artsaustralia berlin 03, focusing on the performing arts, contemporary dance, literature, visual arts, contemporary music and film. The two-season program stimulated extensive media coverage in Germany and created a significant interest in Australian arts from key European presenters and promoters.

Under the AICC's auspices, the department's Celebrate Australia 2002 promotion in Shanghai, China, in November 2002, attracted significant media coverage and high-level Chinese government representation at all events, and provided good opportunities to target Australia's key business and political contacts. A planned follow-up tour by the Australian Ballet in 2003 was cancelled due to uncertainty related to the outbreak of the SARS virus.

Through the AICC, we supported the international tour of the Museum of Contemporary Art's Native born exhibition to Hanover, Madrid, Sao Paulo, New York and Taipei. The exhibition enhanced and consolidated Australia's cultural profile and arts market share internationally by promoting the diversity, sophistication and innovative nature of Australian culture.

Supporting Australian artists overseas

The department complemented the work of the AICC through the Cultural Relations Discretionary Grants (CRDG) program which provides seed funding to assist Australian arts companies take their work overseas in support of Australia's foreign and trade policy objectives. For example, CRDG-funded activities provided important public diplomacy support for the opening of the new Australian embassy in Berlin and a major Australian trade promotion in Egypt. See Appendix 11 for more details of the CRDG.

The department also funded the Australian Visual Arts Touring Program (implemented by Asialink) and the Australian Fine Music Touring Program (implemented by Musica Viva Australia), which projected contemporary Australian cultural excellence and diversity through the presentation of high quality Australian visual art and music in South and South-East Asia. Many individual overseas posts also provided in-kind support to a diverse range of Australian artists touring overseas.

Indigenous Australian culture

The department's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander program promoted a positive image of contemporary Indigenous life in Australia through a range of cultural and other programs.

The department developed and launched a major touring exhibition of Tiwi Islands Aboriginal art, Kiripuranji, in association with Artbank. This and the department's other touring exhibitions—Seasons of the Kunwinjku from Arnhem Land and People in a landscape by the Australian Print Workshop (featuring works by 20 Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists)—were shown in more than 17 countries in South-East Asia, South America, Europe and the Pacific. The exhibitions enriched understanding and appreciation of Indigenous culture, customs and traditions, and created commercial opportunities for Indigenous artists. The department also began developing a major touring photographic exhibition for overseas posts, Kickin' up dust.

The department's program also encourages and helps posts use these exhibitions as opportunities to increase awareness of Indigenous issues as part of their wider public diplomacy strategies. For instance, a visit by two Tiwi Islander artists to Port Moresby created considerable local interest and media coverage. People in a landscape was featured as an official part of St Petersburg's 300th anniversary celebrations, and formed part of the embassy's Anzac Day program in Turkey.

Other elements of the program included production of a CD called Listen up featuring a cross-section of contemporary and traditional music by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists; a tour of Japan by an Indigenous speaker; and support for National Aboriginal Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week activities in Canberra and at posts.

Embassy Roadshow

The department continued to support the Embassy Roadshow—a film initiative funded by the AICC and co-managed by the department and the Australian Film Commission. The program aims to project a contemporary image of Australia and to promote the Australian film industry through a series of short, stand-alone Australian film mini-festivals. It has proven to be a low-cost, highly effective public diplomacy tool, with posts reporting a strong demand for the films from overseas audiences. Six new titles were added in 2003. Posts in 25 countries hosted Embassy Roadshow film festivals in 2002–03, screening an average of seven films to audiences averaging 1800 people per festival. A new feature last year was a set of films sub-titled in Spanish and screened in Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, Venezuela and Spain. The uncertain international security environment in the first half of 2003 led to the cancellation of four Embassy Roadshow festivals in Indonesia, the Philippines, Israel and Egypt.

Sports diplomacy

The department encouraged international business participation in the Rugby Business Club, being run by Austrade. This will promote business involvement in activities in Australia during the 2003 Rugby World Cup. We ran a range of events at posts in competing nations and where interest in the event is high. These events also projected positive messages about Australia's sports infrastructure and capacity and our trade and investment opportunities.

In conjunction with the Australian Sports Commission, the department continued to oversee the Australia South Pacific Sports Program 2006, a program which provides sports development assistance to 14 countries in the South Pacific. The program develops sport at the community level, promotes sports opportunities for disabled athletes, and provides training assistance for athletes with the potential to participate at an elite level (such as the Olympic and Commonwealth Games). Our overseas posts played key roles in implementing the program successfully.

Bilateral engagement: creating people-to-people links

Bilateral foundations, councils and institutes work with businesses and community groups to facilitate people-to-people links. Through their activities, they also promote a positive, accurate and contemporary image of Australia internationally. The department provides the secretariats for these bodies.

Australia–China Council

The Australia–China Council (ACC) continued to fund a suite of educational and cultural programs in 2002–03. The Council's major programs provided a number of scholarships for young Australians to study in China and promoted Australian studies in China. The ACC also provided support for the establishment and ongoing maintenance of the Shanghai Library's Australian Collection. In November 2002, during the celebrations of the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with China, the Council presented awards to eight former Chinese ambassadors to Australia and the President of the National Association of Australian Studies in China. The Australia-China Council awards recognised the significant roles the recipients have played in strengthening the bilateral relationship.

In 2002, the ACC sponsored the Eighth International Conference of Australian Studies, held at Anhui University in China. The theme of the conference was 'China–Australia Relations: Looking Back and Forward'. It attracted more than 80 delegates from China and Australia. Over 40 papers were presented on a range of topics, including literature, culture, politics and economics, demonstrating the growth of Australian studies in China.

The ACC implemented a new Young Business Scholars in Taiwan Program to complement the Young Business Scholars in China Program. Two young Australians were selected to take part in the inaugural Program, pursuing university studies in Taipei and then undertaking business internships in Taiwan. In an expansion of its successful Beijing Residence Awards program, the Council offered the first Taipei Residence Awards based at the Taipei Artist Village. This new award provides Australian artists with the opportunity to pursue Taiwan-related projects and establish contact with Taiwanese in similar fields. Four residence awards were granted in 2002–03 for projects in a range of artistic activities, including visual arts, dance, and poetry. A reciprocal agreement allows Taiwanese artists to visit Australia.

Australia–India Council

The Australia–India Council (AIC) contributed to the development of a deeper and more sophisticated understanding of Australian society and culture among influential Indians through a range of activities including an Australian authors' tour of India; artists-in-residencies; teacher exchanges and a science teachers' workshop; a fourth year of the Border–Gavaskar cricket scholarship program; HIV/AIDS and disaster-management projects; and the delivery, by former Australian of the Year Sir Gustav Nossal, of the second AIC-sponsored Sir John Crawford Lecture in New Delhi in March 2003.

The AIC also successfully promoted the interests of Australian education providers, establishing an Australian studies fellowship program administered by a consortium of Australian universities. The first Indian scholars visited Australia under the program in 2003.

Australia–Indonesia Institute

The Australia–Indonesia Institute (AII) initiated and supported a range of activities aimed at expanding and strengthening people-to-people contacts between Australia and Indonesia. The AII promoted greater mutual religious understanding through a series of visits to Australia by prominent Indonesian Muslim leaders better to inform Indonesian perceptions of Islam in Australia. The AII supported a second Young Leaders' Dialogue to develop further understanding between younger generations of leaders in politics, business, academia, the military and the media.

The AII contributed to deeper understanding and more sophisticated reporting on Australia in Indonesian media by hosting the visit to Australia of senior Indonesian media editors. The AII supported successful exchanges and visits by students, teachers and arts performers to broaden contact between young Australians and Indonesians and to improve knowledge about each other's culture and society.

Australia–Japan Foundation

The Australia–Japan Foundation (AJF) is a statutory body, and is therefore required to submit its own annual report to Parliament. The AJF's annual report contains a detailed account of its activities over the year.

Australia–Korea Foundation

The Australia–Korea Foundation (AKF) continued to play an important part in the Government's efforts to broaden and deepen relations with the Republic of Korea (ROK). The AKF lent its support to the Fourth Australia–Korea Forum held in Hobart to discuss matters of strategic, economic and cultural significance to both countries. In addition to providing substantial financial and intellectual support, AKF Board Chairman Don Stammer and other AKF Board members played prominent roles at the forum.

The forum identified information and communications technology as an area of unrealised potential in the Australia–Korea relationship. The AKF Board, including its telecommunications expert, Professor Mike Miller, approached mNet Corporation to organise an Australia–Korea Broadband Summit. The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Alston, and the ROK Minister for Information and Communications, Dr Chin Daeje, provided key-note addresses at the summit, which was held on the Gold Coast. Dr Chin subsequently announced his intention to give priority to the ROK's relationship with Australia.

The AKF upgraded the Investigating Australia study kit, which portrays Australia as educationally, scientifically and technologically advanced, and culturally diverse. The kit and its website—www.auskorea.com—were upgraded to an interactive CD-ROM format and distributed to 3000 lower secondary schools in the ROK. The AKF launched the prototype of its Korean-language version of the kit at a well-attended ceremony in Seoul.

Council on Australia Latin America Relations (COALAR)

The Council on Australia Latin America Relations (COALAR) supports efforts to enhance Australia's economic, political and social relations with Latin American countries. The Council's priorities were to enhance Australia–Latin America education linkages, promote defence industry exports and improve awareness of business opportunities. Among other activities, the Council facilitated a well-attended Australia–Latin America Education Linkages Symposium, which led to the creation of the COALAR Education Action Group. The collaborative effort involving Australian and state government agencies, peak bodies and education providers aims to increase exchanges of students, teachers and researchers and to enhance institutional linkages. See sub-output 1.1.3 for more information.

Council for Australian–Arab Relations (CAAR)

Mr Downer and Mr Vaile announced the establishment of the Council for Australian–Arab Relations (CAAR) in December 2002, highlighting the depth and breadth of Australia's relations with the Arab world and the Government's commitment to strengthening all aspects of those ties. CAAR's first meeting was held in March 2003. It has quickly developed an active work program, including sponsoring a visit to Baghdad by an Australian archaeologist to help restore the records of the looted Iraq Museum; and organising a visit to Australia by a member of the Saudi Shura Council, which led to the establishment of a young business executive exchange program between Australia and Saudi Arabia. See sub-output 1.1.4 for more information.

ABC Asia Pacific satellite television

The ABC Asia Pacific (ABCAP) satellite television service, funded by the Government under contractual arrangements managed by the department, made a major breakthrough in March 2003 when it secured a channel on the major I-Cable network covering Hong Kong and Macau. With over 500 000 subscriber households, the network opens access to a major regional television market and creates marketing opportunities for ABCAP. ABCAP currently has re-broadcast arrangements in 25 out of a possible 35 countries in its satellite footprint. The department and posts worked closely with ABCAP to secure entry into regional markets.

ABCAP renewed its programming format in the first half of 2003. The new format seeks to present a more cosmopolitan, sophisticated and contemporary image of Australia, as well as engaging culturally and politically with audiences in the region.

During the year, ABCAP provided a platform for the projection of Australian views to the region. There was extensive Australian coverage of Iraq, including direct coverage of parliamentary debates, the Prime Minister's address to the nation and the daily Australian Department of Defence briefings. Similarly, the National Memorial Service held at Parliament House for the victims of the Bali bombings was broadcast live.

ABCAP assisted the department in producing and broadcasting a community awareness announcement on the travel advisory service (see sub-output 2.1.1 for more details on this service). Featuring Australian champion sprinter Patrick Johnson, a department-sponsored employee, the 35-second announcement has been broadcast as a service to Australians living and working throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

 

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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Annual Report 2002–2003
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