OUTCOME 3: Public understanding in Australia and overseas of Australias foreign and trade policy and a positive image of Australia internationally
Projecting a positive image of Australia internationally
19992000 was the first full operational year for the departments Images of Australia Branch, which aims to improve coordination of efforts to project a positive image for Australia internationally and to explain better Australias foreign and trade policies to the Australian public. The branch has raised the profile of public diplomacy activity across the department, including at our overseas missions.
Overseas media and special visits
Visits to Australia by international media representatives increased awareness and understanding of Australian affairs and encouraged more accurate and informed media coverage of Australia.
A total of 107 foreign media representatives came to Australia under the departments International Media Visits program. The visitors were interested in: Australias foreign, trade, and agricultural policies and its role in the region; the strength of the Australian economy; Australias stance on human rights, Indigenous issues, immigration, multicultural affairs and gender equity; Australias energy and resource industries; environmental issues; and preparations for the Olympics.
The departments International Media Centre in Sydney provided resident and visiting foreign journalists with logistical advice and support, background information, story ideas, contacts and access to essential facilities and research tools. The centre organised more than 150 functions on trade and foreign policy issues for resident foreign correspondents and domestic media representatives specialising in foreign affairs. Visiting Australian heads of mission also participated in media briefings at the centre.
International media visits
Promotion of Australian culture
Our overseas missions provided financial and in-kind support for over 650 Australian artists, performances and exhibitions around the world. More than two million patrons, many representing foreign governments, business or media, attended these public diplomacy activities.
The department took a leading role in developing the first three-year strategy of the Australia International Cultural Council, launched in November 1999. The objectives of the strategy are to: identify and exploit international platforms for cultural promotions; bring more international arts promoters and cultural media to Australia; support exports of cultural products; and achieve better intra-government coordination of these activities.
During the year, there were 22 visits to Australia by influential cultural media and arts promoters under the strategy, generating solid media exposure for Australian arts and cultural products and forging links for Australian artists in a number of overseas markets.
The Commission for International Cultural Promotion was formed ahead of the launch of the Australia International Cultural Council strategy, to implement and coordinate that strategy. The Commission is an inter-agency process chaired by the department and designed to improve coordination of Australias cultural promotion. It supported the ABCs 2000 Today millennium broadcast and the production of an Australian feature edition of the top-rating French television program Bouillon de Culture. Both broadcasts projected Australias culture in a positive way to international audiences.
Through a joint strategy with the National Council for the Centenary of Federation and Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the department coordinated a program of events to be undertaken by overseas posts in 200001 to promote Australias image and foreign and trade policy interests. Much of our effort in 19992000 went toward preparing for Australia Week in London in July 2000.
The department sponsored several international touring exhibitions during the year.
The AustraliaOur Sporting Life exhibition promotes Australias involvement in sport and the capacity of the Australian sports industry, using the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games as a focus. It has been seen by over 1.5 million people, and has generated significant positive international media coverage in 11 countries.
The New DirectionsAboriginal Australia and Business exhibition, developed jointly by the department and Rio Tinto in 1998, has conveyed a positive view of contemporary Indigenous Australia by presenting partnerships between Aboriginal Australians and sections of the Australian mining industry.
The department furthered our support of Australias Indigenous arts and cultures through a range of art exhibitions, including the National Gallery of Australias World of Dreaming: Traditional and Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art at the Hermitage, St Petersburg, and the Sprengel Museum, Hanover, and its Aboriginal Memorial, at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne. The departments two exhibitions of Aboriginal artSeasons of the Kunwinjku and Prints by Seven Aboriginal Australian Artistscontinued to raise awareness overseas of Australias rich Indigenous cultural history.
Other cultural promotion activities
Other significant cultural promotion activities centred on preparations for Australias participation in major international cultural promotions, including HeadsUp in the United Kingdom (JuneJuly 2000), Hanover 2000 Expo (JuneOctober 2000) and the Sydney Olympics. And we again funded the Asialink-managed program of artist residencies and exchanges in Asia.
Australia and Asia: people-to-people links
Some of Australias cultural diplomacy in Asia is conducted through bilateral councils, foundations and institutes, the secretariats of which are in the department. Their work contributes to the promotion of a positive image of Australia in partner countries and the development of people-to-people links.
The following section highlights their work during the year.
In May 2000 the AustraliaJapan Foundation (AJF) launched a revised Australian Studies Teachers Kit for Japanese schools, which will be used by almost eight million junior high school students during its four-year life. The AJF also maintains and updates a Japanese language website on Australia, which received 1.5 million hits during June 2000.
The department facilitated eight major performances in Japan by Australian performing arts groups, including the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Bell Shakespeare Company and Spare Parts Puppet Theatre. The work of Australian film-makers and films was showcased on three occasions. The AJF provided direct assistance to more than 20 visual exhibitions and attended over 50 Australia-related events. Professional links between arts administrators were advanced through the AustraliaJapan Arts Network Scheme.
The presentation of the inaugural AustraliaChina Council (ACC) Awards in December 1999 highlighted people-to-people links and the outstanding contributions made by award recipients to the bilateral relationship in the fields of culture, science and technology, business or community.
To maximise the reach of information about Australia, the ACC funded the Internet connection of eight Australian Studies Centres across China to the ACC-funded CD-Rom collection of Australian information sources, held at the National Library of China.
In October, the ACC sponsored the highly successful Probe exhibition of Australian new media artwork. More than 2 000 people attended the exhibition at the Australian Embassy in Beijing. The ACC also supported the production of five Australian science and technology documentaries for broadcast by China Central Television, as well as another that will highlight Chinas perspective on the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
The department organised two successful Special Visits Program visits and one Cultural Awards Scheme visit from Korea covering areas of economic and public sector reform, regional security issues and the arts. A number of Korean journalists visited Australia to participate in the inaugural AustraliaKorea Media Forum co-convened by the AustraliaKorea Foundation (AKF) and the Korea Press Foundation.
Other AKF contributions to a positive image of Australia included:
- giving financial and other support to the National Korean War Memorial Committee for the May 2000 dedication of the memorial in Canberra;
- participating in the 1999 Korean SchoolNet Conferencedemonstrating its Investigating Australia website and chat-room and running an essay competition to encourage the use of this multi-media educational kit; and
- supporting the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the jazz group Hard Rain Red Earth/Band of 5 Names to perform in Korea.
The department worked closely with the AustraliaIndonesia Institute (AII) to project a positive image of Australia in Indonesia. AII programs focused on youth and education, civil society, the arts, science and business, and the institute sponsored visits to Australia by influential Indonesian policy-makers and media representatives. Among other programs, the AII initiated and funded the development of Australian Studies material for the Indonesian school curriculum.
The AII promoted an appreciation of Indonesia among Australians, funding an award-winning website on Indonesia for Australian primary school students and teachers (www.curriculum.edu.au/accessasia/indonesia). The institute also sponsored the well-attended Australian tour of a contemporary Indonesian art exhibition, and co-sponsored a critically acclaimed collaborative performance at the Adelaide Arts Festival. Nine institute scholarships were awarded to Australian journalists to undertake language study in Indonesia and two Indonesian journalists won scholarships to undertake work placements in Australia.
The AustraliaIndia Council (AIC) supported a wide range of projects in Australia and India, promoting bilateral understanding and helping to expand links in education, economics, public health, the arts, film and television, law, heritage conservation, and sport. The AICs activities generated favourable publicity and feedback and encouraged wider recognition in India of Australian commercial, scientific, technical, artistic and professional capabilities. The council explored new areas for bilateral exchange, including an economic reform conference, an Indigenous arts exchange and an Australian film festival in India, as well as supporting follow-up projects in areas such as health and law. The AICs role in supporting second-track activities complemented the Governments broader objective of rebuilding bilateral relations with India.
Expo 2000 in Hanover (see also administered item)
The Australian pavilion at World Expo 2000 in Hanover opened on schedule on 1 June 2000 despite formidable organisational and financial challenges during its preparation. Ten performing groups appeared at the pavilion in the first month, and visitor responses have been highly favourable.
State and Territory Governments (Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria and the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory) joined the Federal Government in providing funding. Seven Australian companies and 20 organisations provided various forms and levels of sponsorship and support. The department played a crucial role in developing Australias contribution to the effort in Hanover by chairing the Management Committee for Expo.
The media coverage of Australias presence was exclusively positive (31 press articles, 12 television, seven radio interviews, 11 other press interviews including a specialist magazine).
Over 500 000 people visited the Australian pavilion in June, which was more than 20 per cent of total visitors to Expo (there are displays by more than 170 countries and international organisations). The pavilion hosted nine visits by VIP delegations in June, mainly from German industry. Eight Australian companies participated in business seminars attended by 31 German companies and organisations, while Mr Vaile hosted a function for German business in the pavilion in late June.
The departments East Asia Analytical Unit continued to help Australian business, governments, academics and the public identify and assess emerging business opportunities and trade issues, and expand understanding of the economies of Asia and other emerging markets. Established in 1990, the units mandate was extended in 1999 to cover emerging markets outside Asia. The unit has now published 23 country and issue reports. Through wide dissemination of the units reports, the department also aims to contribute to the economic reform debate in Asia and other emerging markets, enhance Australias public diplomacy and develop stronger partnerships with North and South-East Asian powers.
In 19992000, the unit launched two new reports:
- Asias Financial Markets, Capitalising on Reform identified major post-crisis developments in Asian financial marketsit received considerable press coverage and was highly commended by industry.
- Transforming ThailandChoices for the New Millennium reports on crisis-inspired reforms in Thailand and emerging commercial opportunities for Australian traders and investors. The Thai Government and the Australia Thai Business Council commended the report.
The unit also commenced work on a report on commercial opportunities in the Arabian Peninsula and Iran.
Online updates of the units country studies are being developed to ensure the currency of data and analysis. Korean and Philippines reports will be the first updates available in this series.
Encouraging Australias closer engagement with South-East Asia, the department continued its Asialine magazine, informing Australian business about trade opportunities and Government support. An internal review of the magazine confirmed its value to our public diplomacy activities, but to improve client service we decided to issue the magazine quarterly rather than monthly. Survey results indicated a high degree of client satisfaction, and Asialine continues to attract financial support from three major corporate sponsors.
The department provides a wide range of hard copy and online statistical and other information to business and the public. Both general and client-specific information is available. Details of these services can be found in output 1.4.3. A particular focus during the year was enhancement of business-oriented online services (see sub-output 3.1.1 above).
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