Australian Mission to ASEAN

HOM address to New Colombo Plan Alumni and Business Leaders

Australia today – What does ASEAN mean for Australia

Ms Jane Duke, Australian Ambassador to ASEAN

Remarks to New Colombo Plan Alumni and Business Leaders

NSW State Office, Australia

30 March 2017


Thank you all for coming along today to mark the achievements of this remarkable program.

I’m delighted to be here with New Colombo Plan alumni, business leaders and distinguished guests such as Ms Anne Jalando-on Louis, Consul General of the Philippines in Sydney. 

We are also honoured to have Ms Christine Holgate, Chair of the Australia-ASEAN Council and New Colombo Plan Business Champion along with a number of her fellow board members from the AAC and senior colleagues from DFAT and PM&C in Canberra.

This program would not have enjoyed the success it has without you, the students, the business supporters, the education institutions and all the host countries.

Building ties between ASEAN and Australia

At the outset, I’d like to draw your attention to how much support ASEAN has shown for the New Colombo Plan since the program’s inception in 2014. It is frequently mentioned by ASEAN’s most senior leaders as providing a real and lasting contribution to closer ties and is viewed most warmly.

The program is now well and truly established across all ASEAN countries.  In fact, between 2014 and 2017, more than 7,700 Australian undergraduates are participating in the New Colombo Plan in ASEAN countries.

Collaboration between ASEAN and Australia on this program has grown at a time when Australia’s relations were elevated to ASEAN’s top tier of partners along with a commitment to hold regular leaders-level meetings.

We deeply appreciate the support from universities, businesses and alumni associations across ASEAN countries, which are embracing the New Colombo Plan and our students. 

The cultural understanding and friendships that students develop through their time in Asia in programs like the New Colombo Plan will last a lifetime.

I speak from experience.  I was a high-school exchange student to Japan back in 1986 for one year.  It opened my eyes to a whole new world, of language, of history, of culture and about myself.  In fact, I doubt I would have taken the course I have in my life, if I had not embarked on that program.

Strengthening education cooperation

In addition to impacting individual students, the New Colombo Plan is helping to foster new and deepened institutional collaboration between Australia and ASEAN member countries. 

A diverse network of regional university partnerships is crucial to enabling thousands of young Australians to study in the region under the program and in achieving enduring linkages with our neighbours. 

Almost all (40) Australian universities are collaborating with universities in ASEAN countries to deliver New Colombo Plan scholarships and mobility projects. 

At the same time, New Colombo Plan mobility projects are nurturing the development of innovative ideas to respond to regional challenges. 

Fostering business engagement and work-based learning

We’ve been delighted with the enthusiastic support from private sector organisations offering a range of work-based learning opportunities for our students through internship and mentoring programs.

Through their internship experiences, students are being given the chance to work on innovative and cutting-edge projects, with very positive feedback from students. 

More than 90 incredibly diverse organisations have offered to host New Colombo Plan students through internships in ASEAN member countries.

Some of the organisations that are hosting New Colombo Plan interns in ASEAN member countries include the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation; Engineers Without Borders in Cambodia; Endangered Primate Rescue Centre in Vietnam; United Nations Food Programme in Thailand; and Partners Asia in Myanmar, amongst many others.

Other internship hosts across ASEAN, include the ANZ Banking Group, the Macquarie Group, PwC, QBE Insurance, Telstra International, Westpac Banking Corporation and Visy Packaging.

I would like to acknowledge Raj Logaraj from the Singapore Business Circle who is here with us today; Raj has been engaged with the NCP from the beginning, and has most recently arranged for NCP alumni to attend the Trans-Tasman Business Circle - Emerging Leaders in Conversation series, which is a wonderful opportunity for them.  Raj has the important job of selecting NCP students – he tells me how impressive they all are and that he enjoys the engagement immensely.

Growing a diverse and engaged Alumni Network

The New Colombo Plan Alumni Network already has thousands of members who are returning to Australia with new understandings, skills and networks from their experiences in the region.

You – as some of the first NCP alumni – will play an increasingly important role in Australia’s future as an influential and diverse group of Australians with direct experience in the Indo-Pacific region. I trust that the understanding that you have gained and the professional and personal networks that you have developed through your NCP experience, will prove, in time, to be a driving force in Australia’s peace and prosperity in the years to come.

I’m really keen to hear from you about experiences, both as students, and as business supporters.