Annual Report 2006-2007
 

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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 :: International public diplomacy :: Public affairs material :: Special visits program :: International media visits program :: Promotion of Australia through our cultural assets :: Bilateral engagement: creating people-to-people links :: Direct Aid Program :: Asia–Pacific regional television service :: Australian participation in the 2010 World Expo—Shanghai :: Outlook

Overview

Effective public diplomacy advances our foreign and trade policy interests by shaping and influencing opinion overseas and promoting an accurate, contemporary and positive image of Australia. It builds long-term relationships with people in key countries and reinforces Australia’s credibility and general standing in international affairs.

Public diplomacy has recently become the subject of more intense public and political attention, both in Australia and overseas. In our evidence to the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Inquiry into the nature and conduct of Australia’s public diplomacy, we underlined the depth and breadth of the department’s public diplomacy activities. We stressed that our public diplomacy activities are driven by clearly defined objectives, target clearly defined audiences and achieve concrete outcomes. We also underscored our work with a wide range of governmental and private sector partners to mount effective public diplomacy activities, providing examples of successful joint projects.

Our visit programs brought a wide range of opinion and decision-makers from priority countries to Australia, engendering a better understanding of our identity and values and establishing lasting relationships.

Media tools remained a vital public diplomacy resource. The department manages the Government’s five-year contract with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (2006–11) to provide a television service to the Asia-Pacific region. Launched in August 2006, Australia Network now reaches 20 million homes in over 40 countries. It plays an important part in Australia’s broad public diplomacy by promoting a better understanding of contemporary Australia and providing an independent source of news in Asia and the South Pacific.

International media coverage of Australia in 2006–07 remained broadly positive and factual. The department worked closely through its posts to manage international perceptions of high-profile issues such as Australia’s response to climate change, Indigenous affairs, migration and our trade policies.

Adroit cultural diplomacy is an important component of our public diplomacy efforts. The department completed a major, successful cultural program in India, one of Australia’s most important regional partners, among a large number of smaller cultural diplomacy initiatives around the world. In the 2007–08 Budget, the Government announced additional funding of $20.4 million for cultural diplomacy over the next four years. This new funding will be expended under the Australia International Cultural Council (AICC), an advisory body chaired by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It will enhance significantly Australia’s cultural diplomacy program.

The department launched the preparations for Australia’s involvement in World Expo 2010 in Shanghai. Our participation in the Expo will reflect the importance of the bilateral relationship with China and showcase Australia’s dynamic culture, economic strengths and scientific and technological capabilities, including in the areas of renewable energy and environmental management. We selected a Melbourne-based company to develop design options for Australia’s Expo pavilion.

The department continued to provide opportunities for staff to hone their public diplomacy skills to ensure that Australia’s public diplomacy remained flexible, creative and effective. We launched a new public diplomacy pre-posting training course, held a series of specialist advocacy courses for staff in Canberra, convened two regional public diplomacy workshops for posts in the Middle East, Africa and Europe, and recruited 11 media relations specialists.

International public diplomacy

Our posts conducted 4279 public diplomacy events and briefings and maintained a vigorous and proactive approach to media management through the placement of features and ministerial op-ed pieces in influential papers around the world. As a result, international media carried pieces on Australian Indigenous affairs, environment and climate change, migration, gender equality, social harmony in Australia, health and drugs policy, juvenile justice and sporting excellence.

The department conducted a comprehensive review of public diplomacy funding arrangements for posts. The review ensured resources were targeted to gain maximum impact from our programs. These programs were driven by a whole of government focus, implemented by posts and supported by biannual inter-agency meetings held in Canberra (with representatives from 18 government agencies).

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Minister for Trade, Mr Warren Truss, with former and serving female employees of the department at the launch of the book Women with a Mission, 8 March 2007. Back row (L–R): The Secretary Mr Michael L’Estrange AO; Ms Denise Fisher; Ms Di Johnstone; Ms Rosaleen McGovern; Ms Sarah McCosker, (daughter of our current Ambassador to France, Ms Penny Wensley AO); Mr Truss; Ms Felicity Volk, co-editor, Images of Australia Branch. Front row (L–R): Ms Tonia Shand; Ms Sue Boyd; Ms Ruth Pearce; Ms Margaret Adamson; Dr Moreen Dee, co-editor, Information Resources Branch.
Photo: Michael Jensen
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We organised a diverse range of public advocacy activities. They involved our missions in:

The department equipped posts with material to assist their advocacy efforts on key foreign and trade policy issues, and domestic developments. Issue-specific talking points and the weekly Key Messages Brief (KMB) continued to be core public diplomacy tools. The KMB featured 148 items on a range of issues, including: climate change, the Middle East and Iraq, counter-terrorism, East Timor, overseas aid, WTO negotiations, free trade agreements and Australia’s trade record.

We helped posts integrate their public diplomacy programs more closely with Australia’s broad international interests by holding regional public diplomacy workshops in Cairo and Berlin in May 2007. Seventy-four officers from 38 posts in the Middle East, Africa and Europe attended these workshops.

Acknowledging the crucial role officers at post play in promoting Australia to international audiences, the department instituted a new public diplomacy course for staff proceeding on posting. We conducted four such courses in the reporting period, extending participation to other agencies. In Australia, we organised six public advocacy workshops to help officers promote key foreign and trade policy initiatives to domestic audiences (in relation to free trade agreements, our engagement with Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea and Australia’s role in the negotiation of the Convention on Biological Diversity).

Recognising women in Australian diplomacy

Women comprise more than half of the department’s staff and almost a quarter of the Senior Executive Service—working in senior management in Australia and abroad. At 30 June 2007, twenty-three women were serving in a head of mission capacity overseas or as our Canberra-based ambassadors on certain issues.

Lyndall Sachs, as ambassador to Lebanon, managed the largest evacuation of Australian citizens in our diplomatic history during the 2006 crisis in Lebanon. Margaret Twomey, our ambassador to East Timor, has skilfully represented Australia’s interests through periods of major political upheaval and civil unrest. Caroline Millar has been our ambassador to the United Nations and the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, at a time when the security environment presents new demands and international non-proliferation arrangements face serious challenges. Jan Adams has represented Australia as our Canberra-based ambassador for the environment. In June 2007, Ms Adams was awarded a public service medal for pursuit of Australia’s international objectives on trade and environment, particularly through her work on the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate.

The department celebrates the role played by its female staff on International Women’s Day in March each year. On this occasion in 2007, Mr Truss launched a departmental publication Women with a mission: personal perspectives. The book charts the progress of women in the department and their contribution to Australia’s international agenda. It showcases the stories of nine women in particular who have served as heads of Australian diplomatic missions and posts around the world. The reflections of these women provide insight and inspiration as career opportunities for women in Australia’s diplomatic service continue to broaden.

Public affairs material

Through its website and in print through posts, the department delivered a broad range of public affairs material to target audiences overseas. This included:

The department launched a public diplomacy intranet site to improve the accessibility of departmental and other government material available to posts in planning and implementing public diplomacy activities.

Special Visits Program

The Special Visits Program (SVP) is the department’s premier visits program. It is a carefully targeted program that brings to Australia influential or potentially influential people for meetings with key Australian government, business and community figures, and an introduction to Australian culture and society. On their return home, SVP visitors contribute to a better understanding of Australian society and policy. Through the program we build a network of international contacts relevant to our foreign and trade policy interests. During the year we organised 36 visits, including:

International media visits program

The department’s International Media Visits (IMV) program continued to deliver quality outcomes to enhance perceptions of Australia internationally. Under the flagship public diplomacy program, visits of senior media reporters from target regions encouraged informed international media coverage of Australia, the strength of the economy and our major foreign and trade policy objectives.

In cooperation with overseas posts, we organised 19 visits involving 44 media representatives. As there is strong competition for inclusion in the program, visitor nominations were closely assessed with participants selected on the basis of their capacity to influence and contribute to an improved understanding of Australia and our national interests.

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Journalists visiting Australia from Africa under the department’s International Media Visits program meeting the Chair of the Community Relations Commission for a Multicultural NSW, Mr Stepan Kerkyasharian AM (centre). The journalists are (left to right) Mr Kobina Ashmara (Ghana), Mr Peter Fabricius (South Africa), Mr Daniel Kaninda (South Africa) and Mr Laurent Chaburt (Mauritius).
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Highlights of the program included: a visit by a group of eight journalists to participate in the Fifth World Conference of Science Journalists; a program for four ASEAN senior editors to report on cultural diversity, Islam in Australia and the strength of the economy; and an inaugural visit of four senior foreign affairs and economic editors from three African countries focusing on innovation, resources and Australia’s expanding bilateral relations with Africa.

The department’s International Media Centre (IMC) in Sydney played the leading role in providing assistance to international media visitors, offering advice on issues, story leads and contact referrals. The IMC delivered a useful service to members of the Foreign Correspondents’ Association (FCA), including briefings by ministers and senior officials on key policy issues and travel assistance to Canberra for the Budget announcement.

International cultural visits

During the year, the department’s long-running Cultural Awards Scheme (CAS) was renamed the International Cultural Visits (ICV) program. The new program has broader objectives more closely aligned with our foreign and trade policy priorities, reaches a larger pool of potential visitors, including patrons of the arts and senior arts officials, and targets particular regions. It seeks to build lasting professional relationships, engender a better understanding of our cultural sophistication and generate proposals for potential collaborations.

During 2006–07, the department brought 13 ICV visitors to Australia from 11 countries—Japan, Turkey, China, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore, Pakistan, Egypt, the United States, the United Kingdom and Belgium. These visitors included some of the world’s foremost critics and curators of contemporary visual arts: the Editorial Director of The Arts newspaper, London; the editor and publisher of Art Asia Pacific magazine, based in New York; the Deputy Director of the Beijing Centre of Creativity; and an independent curator and critic from Istanbul. Since her visit, the curator has made preparations to feature Australian artists in the next Istanbul Biennial (2007). Two leading authorities on design also came to Australia under the program: the Director of the Design Singapore Council; and the Director of the Museum of Arts and Design, New York.

Promotion of Australia through our cultural assets

Through our cultural expressions, the peoples of other nations learn—often in a more subtle way than other public diplomacy initiatives—about Australia’s diversity, innovation and capacity for tolerance.

Australia International Cultural Council

The department continued to support the Australia International Cultural Council (AICC) as the peak advisory body on cultural diplomacy. Chaired by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the AICC meets biannually and includes senior figures from the arts community, business and government agencies. The AICC has developed a strong record of achievement showcasing Australian arts internationally, which project a positive image of Australia to advance our foreign and trade policy goals and promote exports of Australian cultural products.

In May 2007, the Government announced $20.4 million for Australia on the World Stage (see box on page 213). The additional funding will take the AICC’s total budget to $24.4 million over four years.

From November 2006 to June 2007, the AICC presented the second and final year of AusArts India. Over 120 000 people attended Australian performances, film festivals and visual art exhibitions in eight of India’s largest cities: New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Jaipur, Chennai, Goa, Pune and Bangalore. The multi-arts program heightened awareness of Australia’s cultural sophistication and diversity.

Australia on the world stage

Australia’s capacity to deliver high-quality and effective cultural diplomacy programs was boosted by the Government’s announcement in May 2007 of additional funding of $20.4 million over four years. The Australia on the World Stage initiative will significantly enhance Australia’s international cultural profile and improve market access for our arts exports.

The additional funding will enable the Australia International Cultural Council (AICC) to achieve a powerful presence for Australia in priority regions.

Australia on the World Stage will foster better understanding of Australia in our region and further abroad by demonstrating our cultural excellence. The new funding will target Asia, the Middle East, and the South Pacific.

Programs will aim to project a sophisticated, diverse, tolerant and innovative image of Australia, boost our cultural exports, advance Australian tourism and education, and support the promotion of Indigenous art. The programs will include:

The AICC and the Commission for International Cultural Promotion—the officials’ group supporting the work of the AICC—remain Australia’s key vehicles for cultural diplomacy. The Commission will have an increased role in helping to shape outcomes of AICC meetings and in coordinating cultural diplomacy efforts across government.

Embassy Film Roadshow

The Embassy Film Roadshow, delivered in conjunction with the AICC and the Australian Film Commission, continues to be one of the department’s most popular and effective public diplomacy initiatives. Our overseas posts stage Australian film festivals at public venues, drawing on the Roadshow’s stock of 56 contemporary feature films and documentaries and 30 short films. The Roadshow includes ten Spanish-subtitled films and six Arabic-subtitled films.

In 2006–07, the Roadshow travelled to Port Vila, Nairobi, Kathmandu, Manila, Cebu, Vientiane, Kuwait City, Malta, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and regional centres in Vietnam, Port Louis, Brussels, Bangkok, Moscow, and Seoul. These festivals showcased a wide range of Australian cinema to audiences unfamiliar with our film and helped promote other public diplomacy objectives.

Popular films recently screened from the collection were Peaches, Three Dollars, Somersault and Danny Deckchair as well as short films such as Danya and The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello. Several new feature films that will be added to the collection in 2007 include: The Caterpillar Wish, Jindabyne and Look Both Ways. New short films will be Breathe and Academy award-nominated The Saviour. We have also created a new classic collection from the National Film and Sound Archive with films such as The Devil’s Playground, Newsfront, My Brilliant Career and Storm Boy.

Supporting Australian artists overseas

The department continued to support contemporary Australian art overseas. The Cultural Relations Discretionary Grant (CRDG) program, the Australian Visual Arts Touring program and the Australian Fine Music Touring program, as well as funding under the auspices of the Australia International Cultural Council, were the primary vehicles for assisting Australian artists and performers to tour.

Major projects assisted under the CRDG program during the year included:

In addition to showcasing medium to large-size companies, we also assisted high-quality small groups and individuals to tour internationally. In 2006–07, the program provided funding for 16 projects in China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Turkey, Russia, Japan, South Africa, Ghana, the Philippines, Uganda, Tanzania, the Netherlands, Poland, France, Belgium, Austria, Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States and Italy.

The department continued to use the CRDG to promote a greater awareness of Australia’s Indigenous cultures. Dynamic performance group Descendance toured South Africa and Ghana, on the occasion of that country’s 50th anniversary of independence. The Nura Gili performance and art group from the University of New South Wales toured Uganda and Tanzania, and the Bardi Dancers were featured cultural performers at the G’Day USA Australia Week celebrations in New York and Los Angeles in January 2007.

Indigenous Australian culture

We continued to promote an accurate and positive image of contemporary Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures by: touring visual arts, through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander program; supporting Indigenous performing arts, principally through the CRDG program; providing information and educational resources to posts and ensuring that our diplomatic missions were provided with expert advice on the protocols of presenting Indigenous cultures.

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The department, through its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Program, actively promotes a positive and accurate image of Australia’s Indigenous peoples internationally. It does this through developing projects and initiatives that demonstrate the significant contributions Indigenous peoples make to the arts, business, industry and the professional fields. One of the key projects included the international touring of the Gelam Nguzu Kazi—Dugong My Son, Torres Strait Islander exhibition. The department supported one of the key artists, Mr Dennis Nona, to attend an exhibition opening and deliver master art classes in Vientiane, Laos, enabling audiences to experience first-hand the diversity of Indigenous art and culture. Torres Strait Islander artist Mr Dennis Nona (third from left standing) conducting master art classes with students from the School of Fine Arts, National University of Laos.
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The exhibition component of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander program was successful in reinforcing messages of tolerance and diversity in a range of countries. In 2006–07, three exhibitions were displayed in 10 cities across the South Pacific, Europe, Africa and Asia. Existing exhibitions, Kiripuranji and Kickin Up Dust, which have been touring internationally for three years, were retired in 2006–07. In July 2006, as part of the department’s celebrations of NAIDOC week, we launched a new exhibition, Gelam Nguzu Kazi: Dugong My Son, featuring artistic works from the Torres Strait Islands. The exhibition toured through the South Pacific and Asia. In Laos, the exhibiting artist, Dennis Nona, conducted master classes on the meaning of and techniques employed in his works.

Sports outreach program

We reviewed the discretionary grants administered by the department in conjunction with the Australian Sports Commission under the Australian Sports Outreach program to strengthen governance arrangements.

The department’s Pacific Sports Development Grants acknowledge the important contribution sport makes towards community development in the Pacific, as well as the integral role sports funding plays in Australia’s public diplomacy efforts in the region. During the year, 23 grants were approved to support programs in Federated States of Micronesia, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Vanuatu, Samoa, Kiribati and Solomon Islands. Projects focused on community sports development programs, coaching clinics, equipment and infrastructure construction.

Bilateral engagement: creating people-to-people links

The department provides secretariats for and works closely with nine bilateral foundations, councils and institutes to promote people-to-people links and accurate, contemporary images of Australia in support of the Government’s foreign and trade policy goals.

Australia–China Council

The Australia–China Council (ACC) is tasked with broadening and deepening Australia–China people-to-people links and promoting an understanding of each other’s culture and society.

To give young Australians firsthand experience of China’s economy and society, the Council provided three scholarship programs for 18 participants to study in China for periods from four weeks to one year. A nationwide Chinese Speech Competition for Australian secondary students was sponsored by the Council to promote and recognise outstanding achievement in Chinese language. The Council also promoted Chinese understanding of Australia, its society, traditions and capabilities through continued support of Australian studies in Chinese universities that included the funding of 24 research and other projects and recognition of 11 Australian Studies Centres’ outputs.

With a view to demonstrating Australia’s expertise to a wide range of Chinese audiences, the ACC supported a residency program enabling 12 Australian artists, musicians, and performing artists to work with their counterparts in Beijing, Hong Kong, Taipei and elsewhere in China. The ACC also showcased Australian talent through the ACC’s Asialink Fellowship, which enabled a jazz musician to live and perform in Shanghai for up to four months.

Under its grants program, the ACC provided grants for 36 Australia–China cultural projects. The Council exposed many Australians to Chinese art and culture, for example, by supporting the 5th Asia-Pacific Triennial at the Queensland Art Gallery and performances of the Hsiao His Yuan Puppet Theatre of Taiwan in Hobart and Melbourne; and enabling prominent Chinese filmmakers and writers to attend the Adelaide and Brisbane Film Festivals and Sydney Writers’ Festival. Chinese were exposed to Australian art and culture through ACC-funded projects such as the Australian Children’s Choir’s 30th Anniversary Tour of China and Australia’s National Institute for Circus Arts that won a bronze medal at the international acrobatics competition in Wuhan.

Australia–India Council

The Australia–India Council (AIC) continued to strengthen the people-to-people underpinnings of Australia’s relationship with India. A partnership with the Australia International Cultural Council’s AusArts:India promotion projected the themes of Australian cultural excellence and social diversity to a broad Indian audience. This program enabled tours of India by five Australian groups of cultural performers, including two Aboriginal performing groups, a number of eminent Australian authors and two design exhibitions.

Other highlights of the AIC’s work included: a joint initiative of the Burnet Institute and the AIC that has now sent Australian doctors to train over 1000 Indian doctors on HIV/AIDS clinical management; the promotion of Australian studies in India, particularly through the Australian Studies Visiting Fellowship Scheme; funding for an Australia–India seminar for senior editors to enhance Indian opinion-shapers’ understanding of Australia; and three prestigious lecture series—the Narayanan Oration, bringing eminent Indian economic figures to Australia, the Crawford Lecture which showcases Australian expertise in India and the Lowy–AIC ‘Australia–India Strategic Lecture’ series.

The AIC also supported a security roundtable to focus key strategic and defence thinkers on Australia–India relations, an artist-in-residency program which strengthened links between the countries’ artistic communities, and the AIC-sponsored Border–Gavaskar Cricket Scholarship Program through which elite young Indian cricketers receive specialist coaching in Australia.

Australia–Indonesia Institute

The Australia–Indonesia Institute continued to support a range of diverse activities and events across a broad range of programs to promote positive images of Australia in Indonesia and of Indonesia in Australia. An event in Jakarta in early February 2007 marked the 25th anniversary of the Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program (AIYEP), the Institute’s longest-running program (see box on page 218).

The other major people-to-people exchange program run by the Institute, the Muslim Exchange program, marked its sixth anniversary with several exchanges of young Muslim professionals from Indonesia and one from Australia. During the year, the Institute also contributed to the successful visit to Australia by a group of Acehnese orphans who had been given post-tsunami assistance by AusAID and Australian charity organisations, including Youth Off the Streets.

A Senior Editors’ Visit took place in March 2007. Five Indonesian editors from print and television organisations visited Sydney and Canberra. The editors met Mr Downer and a range of Australian politicians and officials, senior editors, other media representatives, representatives of various faiths, and the Indonesian community in Canberra.

Exchange programs can have a major impact on bilateral relations

A highlight of the 25th Anniversary event of the Australia–Indonesia Youth Exchange (AIYEP) held in Jakarta in February 2007 was the enthusiasm demonstrated by the alumni. They had gathered to discuss their experiences of the program and provide suggestions on its future for the next generation of participants. The Indonesian alumni told of how their experiences in Australia with counterparts, host families and work placement colleagues resulted in a deep and lasting affection for Australia. Over 200 of the nearly 700 alumni rekindled friendships over the two days of the reunion. Following their experiences of AIYEP, alumni have subsequently pursued careers in a range of areas, including government, business, law, and academia, with many maintaining strong links with the other country.

The anniversary events were not only successful in eliciting constructive suggestions about AIYEP and other exchange programs run by the Australia–Indonesia Institute but were an excellent forum in delivering positive messages about the bilateral relationship to a broad audience. This demonstrates the effectiveness, not only of the program and the related public diplomacy activities, but also the significant contribution that exchange programs like this and other people-to-people links have on strengthening bilateral relationships.

Under the Saraswati sub-program of the Arts and Culture program, the Institute provided assistance to 19 organisations including the Australia–Indonesia Arts Alliance, which brought the exuberant percussion band, Samba Sunda, on a visit to Australia to coincide with WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) in Adelaide. Under the Civil Society program, the Institute partially funded a visit by two officers from the Australian Council of National Trusts to assist with a workshop on the management of community-based heritage organisations attended by more than 12 Indonesian heritage organisations from many parts of the country.

Australia–Japan Foundation

The Australia–Japan Foundation (AJF), established in 1976, aims to promote mutual awareness and enhance longer-term contact between Australia and Japan and their respective peoples. In December 2006, the AJF was re-established within the department.

An example of AJF efforts to enhance longer-term contact is the Australia–Japan Young Professionals’ Exchange Network. This program was established in November 2006 and links Australian and Japanese architects, engineers, town planners and allied health professionals. It promotes discussions on a range of cross-professional issues and has generated a number of joint research proposals, further exchange visits and other forms of academic collaboration.

The AJF supported a highly successful Australia–Japan Arts Forum at the National Centre for Art in Tokyo. Senior curators from each country developed a strategic plan that aims to increase collaboration in the arts and promote a broader understanding of Australia’s excellence in the arts.

In October 2006, Deputy Prime Minister and then Trade Minister Mr Vaile delivered the inaugural AJF address to senior Japanese and Australian business leaders. The address focused on the significance of the bilateral relationship and the continuing importance of Japan as an economic and strategic partner.

Australia–Korea Foundation

The Australia–Korea Foundation (AKF) helped broaden and deepen relations with the Republic of Korea (ROK). It supported or conducted a range of activities in commerce and industry, science and technology, education and the arts.

The AKF’s third Australia–Korea and New Zealand Broadband Summit was held in Adelaide in December 2006. The Summit provided a venue for business and research interests to discuss technology and market developments, and an opportunity for individual firms and institutions to forge business alliances and collaborative research projects. Prior to the Summit, the AKF led a Digital Content Industry Delegation to Seoul. It also supported a one-day conference in Melbourne on Digital Natives in Australia and Korea.

The AKF is the major supporter of an Australia–Korea Early Career Scientist Exchange Program (ECRP), which aims to strengthen Australia–Korea complementarities in science. Through the program, we embedded up to five postdoctoral scientists in key research projects—alternatively from Korea to Australia and from Australia–for approximately three months. It links the AKF, the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation.

Under the AKF’s education program, we have developed an internet-based study kit, Investigating Australia, aimed at Korean students and available at www.auskorea.info. The Foundation provides financial and operational support for the Australia–Korea Teachers’ Exchange program, and flow-on school and student exchange visits in both directions. We developed a new project, the Australia–Korea Talkback Classroom, which links the AKF, the National Museum of Australia and Korea’s EBS Television. In the 2006 classroom exercise, we sponsored the visit to Korea by two Australian senior high school students to meet two Korean students to investigate the prospects for peace and reunification of the Korean peninsula. We assisted the students with their preparatory research, including by arranging interviews with Mr Downer and the ROK Ambassador. At the conclusion of their learning journey, the students participated in a forum discussion with leading Korean policy adviser Professor Moon Chung-in. The forum discussion and the students’ interview with Mr Downer was subsequently broadcast on Korean television.

Council on Australia Latin America Relations

The Council on Australia Latin America Relations (COALAR) continued to support Australia’s diplomatic and economic objectives in the Latin American region across its four priority areas of business, education, tourism and culture. COALAR worked in partnership with Austrade and the Australia Latin America Business Council to promote opportunities for Australian businesses in Latin America by providing support for the 2006 Australia Latin America Business Awards and the 2007 Australia Festivals in Buenos Aires, Lima and Mexico City.

COALAR collaborated with the Department of Education, Science and Training to support the visit to Australia of a Colombian Ministry of Education delegation, further strengthening government-to-government links in the education sector. COALAR funded a media visit to Australia by five journalists from Latin American APEC member economies, Mexico, Peru and Chile to coincide with APEC 2007 events. The visit provided an opportunity to highlight trade and investment linkages between Australia and Latin America in the lead-up to APEC in Peru in 2008. Two members of the COALAR Executive Council visited the region to talk with decision-makers of five Latin American countries on a wide range of issues, including tourism and agribusiness.

Australia–Malaysia Institute

Following its establishment in 2005, the Australia–Malaysia Institute (AMI) continued to develop a program of activities aimed at strengthening people-to-people and institutional links with Malaysia. The AMI arranged a visit to Malaysia by a group of Australian journalists, and two visits by groups of Malaysian journalists to Australia, one focusing on Australia’s cultural and religious diversity and the other on sport as a means of obtaining a deeper insight into the Australian way of life. The visits resulted in a range of positive reports on Australia in the Malaysian press.

Two-way visits under the Young Leaders and Muslim Exchange programs enhanced understanding between future leaders and opinion-makers in both countries. The Australia–Malaysia Fellowships Scheme continued to attract a significant number of high-quality applications, with eight fellowships awarded in 2006–07 in Australian studies, Malaysian studies and research excellence. The AMI’s Cultural Understanding program increased in both size and scope, with six diverse cultural projects supported. Three AMI projects were associated with the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Malaysian independence in 2007.

The AMI Executive Committee made a successful visit to Malaysia in September 2006, meeting with a range of government officials and discussing strategic partnerships with Malaysian business and academic groups.

Council for Australian–Arab Relations

The Council for Australian–Arab Relations (CAAR) continued to promote people-to-people links and greater understanding between the peoples of Australia and the Arab world. Council member Dr Glen Simpson was appointed as the new Chairman in May 2007. Key highlights during the year included the establishment of a postgraduate scholarships program that will bring students to Australia to study and to promote awareness of the country, and the Young Professionals’ Exchange Program that brings selected young business people from Arab countries to Australia for work-experience placements. In addition, and to assist recovery following the 2006 Israeli–Hezbollah conflict, CAAR and the Australian Government have identified and commenced funding of a rural irrigation reconstruction project in Lebanon.

Australia–Thailand Institute

Since its establishment in mid-2005, the Australia–Thailand Institute (ATI) has continued to expand institutional, cultural and people-to-people links between Australia and Thailand, focusing on projects in public policy, health and science, and culture and the arts.

In its second year—and in addition to a substantial grants program—the Institute developed further its support for visits to Australia by young Muslims from southern Thailand. Thai participants enjoyed a substantive exchange of views about Islam in Australia with a broad range of government and non-government interlocutors.

Advocacy of Australian perspectives on environmental and scientific developments was also advanced through the Institute’s Media Visits Program. The Institute sponsored Thai participation at the Melbourne World Conference of Science Journalists, in addition to organising an extensive and individual program in Australia for one of Thailand’s most prominent news anchors and radio hosts. The Institute contributed to the popular Thai Culture and Food Festival and supported the Australian National University’s ‘Thailand Up-date Conference’.

Direct Aid Program

The Direct Aid Program (DAP) is a flexible small grants scheme that aims to lessen humanitarian hardship while supporting the Government’s international relations and public diplomacy goals. In 2006–07, the department disbursed over $4 million in DAP funds through 51 posts to projects in over 73 countries including providing disaster relief following severe floods in Uruguay. The DAP was expanded to include a new program in Afghanistan, administered by our embassy in Kabul. A decision was also made to establish a new DAP program for Northern Cyprus through the high commission in Nicosia, commencing in July 2007.

Some examples of the wide range of community development projects funded during the year include:

Direct aid program provides education infrastructure in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is the second poorest country in the world. After ten years of civil war, its government has committed to a peaceful future and is striving to address the development needs of the people. The Direct Aid Program (DAP), through our high commission in Accra, Ghana has helped one community in Sierra Leone to start rebuilding their lives.

DAP funded the construction and fit-out of a library and resource centre for a remote community in which virtually every building was destroyed during the war. The building will be used as a library by the local primary school during the school week and, after hours, will serve as a community library and a safe meeting place for villagers.

As many young adults in Sierra Leone were denied basic education during the war, the library will give this group access to materials that will improve their literacy and numeracy skills. Reinforcing the Australian commitment to development through education in Sierra Leone, staff of the New South Wales Education Service and members of the Sierra Leonean community in Australia have joined forces with the DAP and donated books for the library.

Asia–Pacific regional television service

Australia’s Asia-Pacific regional television service was officially launched by Mr Downer in August 2006 with a new brand, Australia Network. The service, with a footprint covering over 40 countries and available in 20 million households, will be provided by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) for a five-year period (2006–11).

Australia Network provided programming in three zones—Pacific, East Asia and India—with a strong emphasis on regional coverage of news and current affairs. The service far exceeded the minimum requirement of 70 per cent Australian content in overall programming. Improved regional news and current affairs coverage has been achieved by the selection and placement of dedicated network correspondents reporting from New Delhi, Beijing, Jakarta and the Pacific. A team of two reporters is also based in Canberra to cover national political issues.

Australia Network has achieved significant growth in a number of important markets, including India, Hong Kong and Taiwan. In India, audience growth measured by survey data and assisted by wide cable distribution has now reached two million viewers a week.

A companion website, australianetwork.com, has also achieved strong growth since the launch of the new brand, with online unique user-views averaging 59 000 per week. Education content accounts for 26 per cent of website traffic.

Australian participation in the 2010 World Expo—Shanghai

The department made substantial progress in planning for Australia’s participation in World Expo 2010. Detailed design and budget options are being developed for Australia’s presence at the Expo, which will include a showcase pavilion and associated cultural and business programs. We completed negotiations for the location of the Australian pavilion, situated in the sought-after central zone of the Expo site, alongside South-East Asian and Pacific countries.

The scale of World Expo 2010 requires a coordinated federal—state and public—private approach. The department convened a range of consultative meetings with Commonwealth agencies, state and territory representatives and the private sector to establish an effective partnership and ensure a coordinated effort. The private sector is an enthusiastic player in Australia’s Expo presence, as commercial providers, participants in the associated cultural and business programs, and as sponsors.

The department created a new website at www.expo2010.org.au. It contains general information about Australia’s Expo presence and specific information relating to associated commercial opportunities. It includes details of the first of six major tenders to be conducted relating to design work for the Australian pavilion.

Outlook

The department will continue to deliver high-quality and innovative public and cultural diplomacy programs to advance Australia’s foreign and trade policies.

We will coordinate the response of federal government agencies to the recommendations contained in the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade’s report into the nature and conduct of Australian public diplomacy.

The staging of the APEC 2007 Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Sydney from 8—9 September will be a major opportunity to project Australia to the region. With more than 1500 media representatives expected to cover the meeting, it will provide not only excellent media coverage of Australia’s leadership in APEC, but will also showcase Australia’s economic and social successes.

We will work with the design company to prepare detailed design options for our pavilion at Expo 2010 in Shanghai, put in place arrangements for the construction and operation of the pavilion, and develop business and cultural programs.

The department will work closely with the members of the AICC, especially the Australia Council, to ensure that the new cultural diplomacy funds are expended efficiently and effectively. We will ensure that the AICC’s expanded programs are underpinned by robust and flexible structures. We will deliver AICC country programs in France and Malaysia in the second half of 2007 and launch a major promotion in Indonesia in 2008.

We will continue to work with Australia Network to ensure that our television service to Asia and the Pacific remains of high quality.

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