To highlight the 40th anniversary of Australia's relations with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) on 16 April, DFAT's Public Diplomacy Branch recently hosted seven journalists from the ASEAN region. They visited Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.
The anniversary marks a significant milestone in a year of events which will culminate in a commemorative leaders' summit in November.
DFAT uses a range of public diplomacy initiatives to develop Australia's economic, business and cultural linkages and promote international understanding of Australia. One of these is international media visits (IMVs) such as this one, where senior media representatives from targeted countries or regions visit Australia and engage with government, business, academic and community leaders. Through the in-country experience IMVs play an important role in enhancing perceptions of Australia.
The IMV coincided with a visit to Australia by ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh. The group listened to the Secretary-General's address at the Australian National University, and also attended a welcome reception hosted by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at Parliament House.
The media delegation met senior government officials, leading Australian business people, industry and media representatives, community leaders and academics. Features of the program were ASEAN-related discussions with business and academic roundtables, and visits to Australia's competition regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the peak scientific research organisation CSIRO, and Asialink. They also met People of Australia Ambassador, Sam Wong AM, who facilitated a discussion on the role multiculturalism plays in modern day Australia.
With a focus on growing educational links in the region, the delegation visited Marlborough Primary School in Heathmont, Melbourne, an Indonesian partner school and participant in the Building Relationships through Intercultural Dialogue and Growing Engagement (BRIDGE) School Partnerships Program.
Along with a program of cultural activities, the journalists visited Melbourne Zoo and learnt about local and global conservation programs such as the Philippine Crocodile Recovery program, which has Zoos Victoria working closely with communities and the Phillipines Government to protect one of the world's most endangered crocodile species.