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Canberra Fellowships Program

The Canberra Fellowships Program (CFP) is a prestigious program providing tailored individual and small group visits for high calibre emerging leaders from the Indo-Pacific region. Visitors are drawn from the ranks of politics, business, public service, the judiciary, journalism, academia, and other key sectors.

By providing unparalleled opportunities for delegates to develop ongoing relationships with Australian counterparts, it fosters long-term connections and builds our region's understanding of Australia's national strengths, interests, and perspectives. Visit itineraries are tailored to meet the delegates' interests and include meetings with ministers and senior officials, business representatives, non-government organisations including academics and thinktanks, and other experts. Networking, learning, sporting, Indigenous and cultural experiences are also built into programs, to help showcase the best that Australia has to offer.

"One of the best professional weeks of my life."

Delegate, Vietnam and Australia @50, May 2023

In 2023-24, the program supported eighteen delegations from twenty countries across the Indo-Pacific with visit themes ranging from foreign, defence and security policy, climate and green energy transition, political leadership and governance, and gender equality. A further eighteen delegation visits are planned for 2024-25.

Papua New Guinea - Infrastructure SOE and Government Leaders

 

15 delegates from Australia and PNG standing in a row in front of the flags of Australia and PNG.
CFP delegates from Papua New Guinea with accompanying DFAT Officers.

Delegation of seven emerging leaders from Papua New Guinean government agencies and state-owned enterprises visited Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane from 14 to 21 April 2024. Their critical infrastructure-focused program included roundtables with Commonwealth and state governments, the private sector, think tanks and academia, and a tour of the Cross River Rail as a case study on a large-scale public private partnership project for infrastructure development. Delegates undertook a cultural program, including viewing historic records related to PNG's independence at the National Archives and engaging with Australia Awards Scholars studying in Australia.

The visit by four emerging female political leaders from Thailand (24‒29 March 2024) highlighted Australia's approach to gender equality in politics and policy making. The delegates were drawn from both government and opposition and visited Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. 

While in Australia, the delegation met with The Hon Tim Watts MP, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, Luke Gosling MP (Chair of the Thailand-Australia Parliamentary Friendship Group) and Independent MP Zoe Daniel and Greens Senator Larissa Waters. The visit showcased Australian expertise and generated valuable conversations among delegates on how government and opposition could work together more effectively to drive policy change.

Thailand – Emerging Political Leaders

 

The visit by four emerging female political leaders from Thailand (24‒29 March 2024) highlighted Australia’s approach to gender equality in politics and policy making. The delegates were drawn from both government and opposition and visited Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

While in Australia, the delegation met with The Hon Tim Watts MP, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, Luke Gosling MP (Chair of the Thailand-Australia Parliamentary Friendship Group) and Independent MP Zoe Daniel and Greens Senator Larissa Waters. The visit showcased Australian expertise and generated valuable conversations among delegates on how government and opposition could work together more effectively to drive policy change.

6 women and 3 men from Thailand standing in a group in front of a table.
CFP delegates from Thailand with President, Yayee Kitsomsub and Toey Hiranat, Secretary of the Melbourne University Thai Student Association (MUTSA), and students.

French Pacific – Strengthening a Regional Outlook

 

Five women and 6 men standing in front of flags from the countries of Australia, French Polynesia, New Caledonia.
French Pacific CFP delegates with accompanying DFAT Officers.

Four delegates from French Polynesia and three delegates from New Caledonia visited Suva, Canberra and Sydney from 23 February to 4 March 2024. This visit enabled leaders of the French Polynesian and New Caledonian political arena and public service to deepen their understanding of the regional environment as well as opportunities for bilateral cooperation between Australia and French territories. The delegates engaged with representatives from the Australian Government, policy think tanks and universities, providing a diverse range of voices and perspectives.

Brunei – Renewable Energy Corporation

 

In March 2024, a delegation of Bruneian officials, led by Zaiem Halbi, Head of the Brunei Climate Change Office travelled to Canberra and Melbourne. The program highlighted Australia’s readiness to share renewable energy expertise – from policymaking and clean technology research – to support Brunei’s energy transition plans and its hosting of the ASEAN Centre for Climate Change. The visit also built important relationships between Australians and a cohort of future influential Bruneian policymakers.

5 men and two women standing in the senate gallery in Parliament House, Australia
CFP delegates from Brunei visiting Australian Parliament House.

Palau – Reinforcing National and Regional Security

 

5 people standing on the lawns of parliament house, wit hold parliament house and mountains in the background.
CFP delegates from Palau with The Hon. Senator Secilil Eldebechel, Attorney General Ernestine Rengiil, Australian Ambassador Richelle Turner, National Security Coordinator Ms Jennifer Anson and The Hon. Delegate Mario Gulibert.

In January 2024, a delegation of four elected members and officials from Palau visited Australia. The visit provided insights into Australia's national security and intelligence community to inform Palau's consideration of their national security architecture. Australia and Palau continue to deepen bonds as we celebrate our 30  years of diplomatic ties, and Palau celebrates its 30th anniversary of independence on 1 October 2024.

Philippines – Congresswoman Dr Stella Quimbo, Member of the 19th Congress of the Philippines

 

Dr Stella Quimbo (Second District Representative of Marikina) visited Canberra and Sydney from 15 – 19 January 2024 and met Minister for Trade and Tourism Senator the Hon Don Farrell and Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities, Treasury and Employment, the Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP. The program highlighted our shared positive vision, especially in governance and trade. The hospitality events, as well as meetings with SBS Filipino journalists and a Filipino-born City Councillor, showcased the diversity of Australia and the successes of the Filipino diaspora.

Man and a women standing on a deck with a lake and skyline of Canberra behind them. Image of a women sitting a t a desk with a microphone in front of her.
While in Canberra, Representative Quimbo engaged in discussions with Minister for Trade and Tourism Senator the Hon Don Farrell and Assistant Minister for Competition Hon. Andrew Leigh MP. In addition to these engagements, she visited SBS Filipino. Credit: SBS

Future Cambodian Leaders

 

A group of people in a hot air balloon basket ready to take off.
CFP delegates from Cambodia on a Sunrise Balloon flight over Canberra city.

In December 2023, Canberra Fellowships Program hosted six senior government officials from Cambodia to build understanding and expand our bilateral relationship. The delegation visited Canberra and Sydney to meet Assistant Foreign Minister Tim Watts, senior Federal and State officials, strategic policy think tanks, and business and investment groups. Issues explored included security and strategic policy; infrastructure, investment and trade diversification; and Cambodia's development strategy.

Laos – Visit by H.E. Thongsavanh Phomvihane

 

H.E. Thongsavanh Phomvihane (Chairman of the Committee of External Relations of the Party Central Committee of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party) visited Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne between 27 October - 2 November under the Canberra Fellowships Program. He was accompanied byMme Vadsana Phomvihane (Head of Europe and America Division, Europe and America Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs), and Mr Keopaseuth Chanthaphim (Deputy Permanent Secretary, Committee for External Relations, LPRP). The centrepiece of the visit included calls on Foreign Minister Wong, where principals signed an MOU to establish the Laos-Australia Friendship Association (FA), and on Minister Conroy. The Canberra Fellowships Program helped demonstrate the breadth of our bilateral ties, including development cooperation - particularly our human capacity building support through Australia Awards and the Mekong Australia Partnership – and of trilateral cooperation with Vietnam.

Man and women shaking hands in front of a table with the flags of Australia and Laos in the background.
H.E. Thongsavanh Phomvihane with Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Penny Wong. Signed an MOU to establish the Laos-Australia Friendship Association. Credit: DFAT

India – Inclusive Politics and Governance for Indian Women MPs

 

10 women anfd 2 man standing in front of a table with the flags of Australia and Inda behind.
Indian CFP delegates official lunch with Indian High Commissioner, Manpreet Vohra, Deputy Secretary, Michelle Chan and officers from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Credit: DFAT

In October 2023, four Indian parliamentarians visited Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, and Adelaide for a Canberra Fellowships Program focused on women's leadership and inclusive governance. The delegation comprised two MPs from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and two from regional political parties. The program underlined Australia's progress on gender and strengthened our connections with future political leaders in India.  This was the first visit by an Indian parliamentary delegation since 2018.

Indonesian Women Parliamentary Delegation

 

In August 2023, four Indonesian parliamentarians visited Sydney and Melbourne, meeting Australian parliamentarians, academics, business leaders and members of the Indonesian diaspora. Visit highlights included attendance at a FIFA World Cup Women's Football match with Sally Sitou MP and meeting Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs the Hon Tim Watts MP. The visit provided opportunities to strengthen parliamentary ties.

5 women holding a green and gold scarf with "Australia" written across it
CFP Indonesian delegates Ms Sally Sitou MP at the FIFA World Cup Women’s Football match. Photo credit: Ms Sally Sitou MP

Vietnam and Australia @50

 

Two women and three men standing in front of a Perth USAsia Centre banner
Vietnamese CFP delegates and Perth USAsia Centre CEO Professor Gordon Flake. Credit: Perth USAsia Centre

In May 2023, the Canberra Fellowships Program welcomed four Vietnamese academics and researchers, led by the Vice President of the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam Dr Nguyen Hung Son. During their time in Australia, the delegation met DFAT, other Government agencies, external think tanks and universities to discuss strategic perspectives and priorities for the Indo-Pacific. This visit occurred in the year marking 50 years of diplomatic relations between Australia and Vietnam.

Japan – Future Leaders in Foreign Policy

 

In May 2023, two members of Japan's governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) visited Australia for meetings focused on Australia's bilateral relationship with Japan and our shared interests in the Indo-Pacific. The comprehensive program included engagements with Assistant Foreign Minister the Hon Tim Watts, Victorian Government Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment Tim Pallas, DFAT Secretary Jan Adams, Dr David Gillespie MP (Member for Lyne and Vice-Chair Australia-Japan Parliamentary Friendship Group) and Mr David Smith MP (Member for Bean and Government Whip in the House of Representatives), the Australia-Japan Business Cooperation Committee, and business and industry leaders. Delegates also met Shadow Foreign Minister Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham and former Prime Minister the Hon Scott Morrison, and attended a wreath-laying ceremony and peace-bell striking at Nara Peace Park hosted by Mr Brendan Smyth, Commissioner of International Engagement ACT Government.

Two Japanese men laying a white floral wreath, watched by host Mr Smythe. In the background are trees and a lake.
Mr Brendan Smyth and Japanese CFP delegates, Nara Peace Park, Canberra.

Thailand Emerging Political Leaders

 

2 men and a women standing next to the flags of Australia and Thailand
Thailand CFP delegates meeting with Minister for Trade and Tourism, Senator the Hon Don Farrell.

Two emerging political leaders from Thailand visited Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne from 30 March to 6 April 2023, and held meetings with meetings with the Minister for Trade and Tourism, Senator, the Hon Don Farrell, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs the Hon Tim Watts MP, the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, officials from the Australian Electoral Commission and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. The visit highlighted the strength of Australia's governance institutions and reform bodies.

India – Climate and Energy Policy

 

Four influential climate policy advisors visited Australia from 26 March to 2 April 2023, representing some of India's top climate and energy think tanks. The delegation visited Cairns, Sydney and Canberra in a program focussed on climate change, climate policy, energy, and the economic transition. Meetings included Senator the Hon Jenny McAllister, Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull AC, and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Discussions about First Nations perspectives on country, culture and history highlighted another aspect of Australia's climate policy response.

Eighteen people, comprising the Indian delegation and university staff, standing in front of a building bearing a University of Sydney logo.
Indian CFP delegates meet with University of New South Wales faculty members. Credit: DFAT.

Papua New Guinea – Emerging Public Sector Leaders

 

Seven women and one man from Papua New Guinea patting a koala.
CFP delegates from Papua New Guinea cuddling a Koala at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

A delegation of eight emerging leaders from Papua New Guinean government agencies visited Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane from 27 March – 2 April 2023.

The program included a personalised Leadership and Management Workshop, briefings from the Australian Pacific Security College, the Lowy Institute, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), the Department of Defence, and diaspora groups including Australia Awards Scholars.

Malaysia – Green Economy and Energy Transition Program

 

In March 2023, Australia hosted a visit by government officials and senior executives from top Malaysian companies, to learn about Australia's energy transition and to assess investment opportunities. Meetings with Senator the Hon Don Farrell, Minister for Trade and Tourism, and Senator the Hon Jenny McAllister, Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy, highlighted Australia's legislated clean energy targets and significant solar, wind, hydrogen, and storage capacity. ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr explained how the ACT had achieved 100 per cent renewable electricity and noted current plans to procure EV infrastructure. The delegation also met peak bodies and leading businesses including the Clean Energy Council, the Australian Hydrogen Council, and Fortescue Future Industries.

"The program itinerary was truly impressive and provided me with a unique opportunity to gain insights into the latest developments in the energy sector in Australia." Delegate feedback.

Two women and three men stand on a green lawn, dressed in business suits. In front of them, three Indigenous performers pose with traditional instruments, wearing white ceremonial body paint.
Malaysian CFP delegates and members of the Wiradjuri Echoes at a Farewell Reception, Canberra. Credit: DFAT.

Indonesian Parliamentary Delegation Visit

 

Their Excellencies Governor General and Mrs Hurley with four Indonesian delegates, three female one male. Behind them are the flags of Australia and Indonesia.
Indonesian CFP delegates with their Excellencies General the Honourable David John Hurley AC DSC (Retd) and Mrs Linda Hurley. Credit: DFAT.

A delegation of five young Indonesian parliamentarians visited Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra in March 2023. Meetings in Canberra enabled discussions on the bilateral relationship, parliamentary engagement, and respective policy and legislative challenges. The visit provided a foundation for deepening bilateral parliamentary ties and broader people-to-people links with Australia, with discussions focused on climate and energy policy. The program included meetings with Governor-General, His Excellency General the Hon David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) and Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley, Senate President the Hon Sue Lines, and Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Tim Watts MP, as well as representatives of Australian business, industry, universities, and diaspora groups.

Tonga – Strategic Policy

 

The first Canberra Fellowships Program visit since COVID-19 took place in February 2023, with a six-person delegation led by His Royal Highness, Crown Prince of Tonga Tupouto'a 'Ulukalala. The delegation was welcomed in Sydney by the Governor-General, His Excellency General the Hon David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), and Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley. They held a range of meetings with senior officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Defence and other agencies, as well as the Australian National University. The program enabled participants to exchange views and make progress on addressing shared priorities including climate change, cybersecurity, health, and regional cooperation. The delegation toured HMAS Adelaide, which had deployed to Tonga in 2022 to assist with disaster relief following the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcanic eruption and tsunami. His Royal Highness warmly thanked Commanding Officer Captain Troy Duggan RAN and Australia for their support at this challenging time. The delegation also toured HMAS Arunta and reunited with Commanding Officer Captain Jason McBain RAN, a former Australian Defence Adviser to Tonga and former classmate of His Royal Highness, as well as connecting with serving members of Tongan heritage.

A group photo on the docks at Fleet Base East, a large ship in the background. In the centre are His Royal Highness, Crown Prince of Tonga Tupouto'a 'Ulukalala and Rear Admiral Christopher Smith, with delegates and members of the Royal Australian Navy.
His Royal Highness, Crown Prince of Tonga Tupouto'a 'Ulukalala, and other CFP delegates, tour Fleet Base East with Rear Admiral Christopher Smith, Commander Australian Fleet. Credit: DFAT.
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