Office of Southeast Asia
The Office of Southeast Asia (OSA) was established in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in 2022 to support and coordinate Australia’s whole-of-nation efforts to deepen engagement with Southeast Asia.
Australia’s future is tied to the future of Southeast Asia. We are invested, engaged and committed to the region. We have strong and longstanding connection with the countries of Southeast Asia and have a shared interest in fostering a region that is open, stable, and prosperous. We work closely together with our Southeast Asian partners to harness our collective strengths to tackle regional and global challenges. Our starting point is to listen and understand the regional perspectives on the opportunities and challenges that we face and how we can meet them together.
OSA, led by Deputy Secretary of the South and Southeast Asia Group (SSG) Michelle Chan, comprises three divisions: Southeast Asia Maritime Division (SMD); Southeast Asia Regional and Mainland Division (SRD); and Southeast Asia Strategy and Development Division (SSD). OSA works on a wide range of complex issues in collaboration with our 17 Posts in the region, and across DFAT Canberra and whole-of-government partners.
Some of OSA's functions include:
- Diplomacy and bilateral relations: managing and strengthening Australia's diplomatic relationships with all 11 Southeast Asian countries. This involves supporting leader-level, ministerial and senior officials' engagement, and facilitating regular dialogues, meetings, and diplomatic activities to promote cooperation and address shared challenges.
- Regional engagement: facilitating whole-of-government engagement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and ASEAN-led architecture, including the East Asia Summit (EAS) and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), to address regional challenges and foster cooperation.
- Trade and economic relations: working to increase two-way trade and investment between Australia and Southeast Asia. This includes promoting investments, enhancing market access, and helping business utilise trade agreements to boost economic growth.
- Development cooperation: managing Australia's development cooperation to support our Southeast Asian partners to advance a prosperous, peaceful and stable region.
- Security cooperation: addressing regional security issues through dialogue, multilateral forums, and cooperation with Southeast Asian partners. This involves addressing shared security challenges including transnational crime, counterterrorism, cyber, human trafficking, and maritime security.
- Cultural and people-to-people exchanges: promoting cultural understanding and people-to-people connections between Australia and Southeast Asian countries through supporting education and cultural initiatives, grants and exchange programs under the Australia-ASEAN Council (AAC) and Australia-Indonesia Institute (AII).