With international travel banned for another year, how can young people continue to navigate shifting diplomatic relationships in the region, create meaningful engagement online, and empower the next generation to establish life-long connections with Asia?
Where 2020 was about survival, in 2021 we are emerging under new rules of engagement; rebuilding, reconnecting, and reimagining the way we work, socialise, and engage internationally. While some uncertainty remains, our new hybrid digital / in-person reality is here to stay – a new context we have no choice but to embrace if we are to thrive in a post-pandemic world.
While digital literacy is on an incline globally with young people leading the charge, Asia literacy is quickly moving in the opposite direction, risking not only future opportunities for deep and personal ties to the region but Australia’s place as a regional economic, trade and security partner in Asia. This decline in Asia competency coupled with fallout from an ongoing global pandemic means we must look to and empower the organisations actively working with counterparts in the region as a blueprint for how to succeed in this new and constantly evolving environment.
At our inaugural youth forum last year, we explored how Asia-engaged youth are keeping connected through COVID-19. At year two of this global shift, we reconvene young leaders for a half-day forum to understand how we can work within these new parameters to reshape our Asia engagement, “level up” our digital engagement, and foster deep and long-lasting connections to the region.
What are the new realities facing Asia-engaged young people at this time of significant global shift?
Youth dialogues representing three key bilateral relationships for Australia; China, India and Vietnam, are joined by a senior representative from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for an intergenerational discussion on shifting regional ties, navigating geopolitics, and the power of young people in shaping Australia’s future engagement with Asia.
Sit down with a young leader from Asia Society Australia’s Gen A member network as they interview a special guest on the value of, and path to, sustained future engagement with the region.
How do we engage with Asia in this new world?
We bring together some of the most active youth organisations engaging with the region to talk best practice, digital step-up, creating meaningful connection and the value of personal connection in empowering the next generation to become Asia-passionate in the months and years ahead.
Cameron is a Graduate Policy Officer in the Australian Public Service. Cameron graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of International Security Studies from the Australian National University (ANU) in 2020, where he was a Hawker Scholar and National University Scholar. In 2019, Cameron studied at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta and the National University of Singapore as the New Colombo Plan ASEAN Fellow.
Cameron volunteers as the CEO (and Co-Founder) of the ASEAN-Australia Strategic Youth Partnership – the leading organisation for youth partnership between ASEAN and Australia. He also is a Non-Executive Board Member at Curious Legends – a theatre company based in his hometown, Newcastle. In 2020, Cameron sat on ASEAN Australia Education Dialogue Advisory Committee and represented Australian young people at the Y20.
Previously, Cameron worked as a Strategic Communications Officer in the COVID-19 Response Team at the ANU. Before working at the ANU, Cameron interned at the Australian Mission to ASEAN, Migrant Care, Thales and the Australian Institute of International Affairs.
Clarice Campbell is the National President of the Australia-Indonesia Youth Association and a Lead Adviser of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement's Economic Cooperation Program, Katalis in Jakarta. She was a delegate of the 36th Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program (AIYEP) to Bengkulu, Sumatra and is a graduate of Linguistics and Indonesian Studies from Monash University. Clarice is passionate about the Australia-Indonesia relationship and believes that AIYA plays a great role in its development at a grassroots level.
Elise Giles is a Board Director and Steering Committee Director of the Australia-Vietnam Leadership Dialogue. She also leads the Advocacy portfolio at Asialink, the national centre driving creative engagement between Australia and Asia.
Elise has worked in Vietnam, Indonesia and Hong Kong, and completed studies in Hong Kong, Beijing, Singapore and Busan, South Korea. She has a wealth of experience engaging with government, private and community sector in these international environments.
Elise was previously deployed to Vietnam to strengthen local capacity to address infectious disease threats with the Government of Vietnam, together with other international agencies. Elise also worked in South Sulawesi, Indonesia engaging with local NGO on building monitoring and evaluation capabilities to measure the success of social development programs in rural Indonesia.
Previously, Elise worked within economic and social policy portfolios in the Queensland State Government. In 2019, Elise was recognised as an ASEAN-Australia Young Leader for her ability to drive issues and opportunities of significance to other young leaders across both Australia and the ASEAN region.
Henry joined the executive committee of Australia China Young Professionals Initiative (ACYPI) in 2018. In the capacity of General Manager and Treasurer, Henry oversaw the operations of nine city chapters located across Australia and China. In 2020, Henry also took on the role of Chapter Head in Melbourne to lead the local committee during the peak of the pandemic and lockdowns in Victoria.
In his professional career, Henry has over nine years of experience in corporate advisory and turnaround working at KPMG and McGrathNicol.
During this time, Henry consulted for major ASX listed companies and government agencies to implement large scale turnaround and restructuring initiatives. In 2021, Henry accepted a role with Brosa Design, an e-commerce furniture retailer, as Head of Finance.
Mitali Mukherjee is one of the most well-known faces in the world of business journalism. With close to 2 decades of experience in journalism, she has handled a wide range of roles-from political, global & local economic reportage, to live conferences.
She’s a TEDx speaker, Raisina Young Fellow and AIYD Alumna and Steering Committee member.
Mitali is passionate about leading the conversation on financial equality for women and including them in conversations that impact their health, opportunities and lives.
She is former Markets & News Editor at CNBC TV18. Over the last 18 years, she has worked with the TV18 Network, The TV Today group, Doordarshan (India’s National Broadcaster), Editorji & BBC World
She has also co- founded platforms addressing core socio-economic issues, like MoneyMile & Samarthan.
A gold medalist in Television Journalism from IIMC, Delhi and a gold medalist in Political Science, Mitali brings a unique perspective to her interaction connects instantly with audiences & viewers alike.
Kana is part of the Australia-Japan Youth Dialogue steering committee and was a delegate in 2020. As a member of the alumni engagement team, she designs and implements alumni relations initiatives to build effective, dynamic and long term relationships between the AJYD and its diverse community, nationally and internationally.
Kana also works as part of the Global Engagement team at Monash University and develops successful international collaboration in the higher education sector. She has extensive experience in facilitating high-level international engagement at Monash University with notable delegations including the Education Minister from India, the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry from Japan, the President of the C9 universities and many senior figures from high ranking universities across the globe. This work enables Monash to build mutually beneficial agreements through joint Bachelor/Masters/PhD programs, research collaboration, and student and researcher exchanges. By providing strategic advice to senior staff across faculties on potential opportunities and risks, Kana facilitates the best possible outcomes for engagement. This advice, and Kana’s detailed organisational knowledge, enhances the value of existing and emerging connections by incorporating other Monash faculties and projects that may be relevant for global partners. Prior to joining Monash, Kana worked for three years in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan where she was involved in a number of significant diplomatic events including the planning and delivery of Prime Minister Abe's visit to Sydney, APEC in Philippines and ASEM in Mongolia.
Mercedes is the founder and CEO of Young Australians in International Affairs. She is also Assistant Director, Cyber Cooperation at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, where she leads Australia’s regional cyber and tech capacity building and cooperation across Southeast Asia. Before joining DFAT, she worked in the private and not for profit sectors, and at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
In 2021 Mercedes was awarded an Australian Leadership Award by the ADC Forum. She was a finalist in the 2019 Women's Agenda Leadership Awards and in 2018 was named by the Australian Financial Review and Qantas as one of Australia's 100 Women of Influence. In 2015 she was recognised by the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) as one of Australia's Top 50 Young Social Pioneers. She was previously recognised by the WEF as a Global Shaper, and was a non-resident WSD-Handa Fellow and a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Pacific Forum.
Mercedes currently sits on the Youth Working Group of the Global Diplomatic Forum.
Ridwaan Jadwat is the First Assistant Secretary, Southeast Asia Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Prior to taking up his appointment in January 2021, he was Australian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain and Yemen.
Mr Jadwat has been Australia’s Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation since December 2018.
Previously, he worked at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as Assistant Secretary, South and South-East Asia, Americas and the Middle East, International Division where he headed the Taskforce for the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit 2018.
A career DFAT officer, Mr Jadwat has served in Cairo, Riyadh, Tehran and Kuala Lumpur. In Canberra, Mr Jadwat has held a range of positions including Director, ASEAN and East Asia Summit Section, and roles in India and South Asia Section and Middle East Section, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
He holds Bachelor of Economics (Social Science) and Bachelor of Laws Honours degrees from the University of Sydney.
Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake was appointed as the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth in June 2017 at the age of 26. In this role, Jayathma works to expand the UN’s youth engagement and advocacy efforts across all four pillars of work – sustainable development, human rights, peace and security and humanitarian action – and serves as a representative of and advisor to the Secretary-General.
Originally from Sri Lanka, Ms. Wickramanayake has worked extensively on youth development and participation, and has played a key role in transforming the youth development sector in her home country.
Prior to taking up her post, Ms. Wickramanayake was instrumental in creating the movement for civic and political engagement of young people, especially young women in Sri Lanka named “Hashtag Generation”. Previously, she advocated for global youth development on an international level including as the first ever Sri Lankan Youth Delegate to the United Nations and as the youth lead negotiator and member of the International Youth Task Force of the World Conference on Youth 2014 where she played a critical role in mainstreaming youth in the Post-2015 Process and in the establishment of World Youth Skills Day.
Deborah is the National President of the Australia-China Youth Association (ACYA), and a passionate advocate for youth involvement in international affairs.
Prior to assuming her role, Deborah served in the Education and People-to-People pillars of the organisation, and as the Delegates Director for the 10th Australia-China Emerging Leaders Summit. Through these positions, she has led initiatives to facilitate people-to-people connections across the bilateral relationship, and develop the cultural capabilities of emerging leaders.
Deborah holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of Melbourne, where she was awarded the W. T. Mollison Scholarship in Modern Languages. She has studied Mandarin at Peking University, and is currently a Master of Teaching (Secondary) candidate, with a strong professional interest in the development of 'Asia literacy' amongst students and educators.
Fran is committed to helping build intercultural competence as a means of increasing deeper understanding amongst groups and individuals, and the value of diversity. She is an intercultural educator who has consulted with community, education and government organisations to design and deliver transformational learning interventions with students, volunteers, staff and educators across Australia and in a diverse range of countries worldwide. Fran holds a Bachelor of Adult and Vocational Education, is a certified administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory and a qualified trainer for the Global Competence Certificate. Fran’s earlier consulting and teaching work focussed on the design and delivery of accredited training for trainers and assessors and she recently held the role of CEO for AFS Intercultural Programs Australia.
Fran’s love of learning fuels her work and personal life. Learning through immersion in new cultures, both at home and abroad stimulates her natural curiosity and interest in people to people connections.
Marcela Lapertosa is a Child Psychologist with a Masters degree in Cross Cultural Psychology and a passion for fostering intercultural understanding. Marcela is also an intercultural facilitator and trainer who has travelled the world providing intercultural learning training and coaching to students, host families, volunteers, executives and educators. Marcela led the development of multiple intercultural learning curricula to enhance study abroad experiences including the AFS Global Competence Certificate, a blended learning program for 18+ study abroad participants.
Over the last few years Marcela has been an advocate for Global Citizenship education organising and speaking at several conferences around the world. She is a former faculty at the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication and is also a certified administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory.
The ASEAN-Australia Strategic Youth Partnership (AASYP) empowers young people aged 18-29
years old from across ASEAN and Australia to engage with each other and the most pressing
issues of today. AASYP builds young people’s expertise and engagement with ASEAN-Australia
affairs, and provide tangible opportunities for young people to engage in promoting peace
and prosperity across the relationship.
The ASEAN-Australia Strategic Youth Partnership (AASYP) was founded by New Colombo Plan scholars and alumni who identified a lack of understanding between the people of Australia and Southeast Asia. Established under the principles of international cooperation, the organisation is designed to equip future leaders with the skills, networks and knowledge to respond to the geopolitical challenges of the twenty-first century.
ACYPI was founded in 2010 as a premier platform focussed on developing cross-cultural literacy and bilateral engagement between young professionals in the Australia-China space. Since that time, ACYPI has grown into one of the largest young professional organisations in the Australia China space with nine city chapters established across major cities in Australia and China. Through regular events held across Australia and China, ACYPI seeks to connect young professionals to significant commercial, political and academic leaders, provide professional networking opportunities across sectors, and offer career development through training, seminars and workshops.
The Australia-China Youth Association (ACYA) is a youth-administered non-governmental organisation that works to actively foster a transnational community of Australian and Chinese students and professionals. Focusing chiefly on young people between the ages of 18 and 30, ACYA's objectives are to develop and facilitate lasting bilateral friendships, partnerships and opportunities across a variety of social sectors - from business, to academia, to sport and the arts. ACYA currently operates across 17 chapters - 11 at Australian universities, and 7 in cities across Greater China. Together with the ACYA National Executive, these Chapter Committees - and their 6000+ strong membership base - unite an extensive network of youth from diverse social, cultural backgrounds, all committed to the advancement of youth bilateral diplomacy.
The Australia India Youth Dialogue (AIYD) is the pre-eminent track-two young leaders’ dialogue between Australia and India. Held in India and Australia in alternate years, the AIYD hosts 15 of the best and brightest young minds from each country at an annual conference. The AIYD enables a rich exchange of ideas between emerging leaders to think creatively about how the Australia-India relationship may be strengthened through their own work and efforts.
The Australia-Indonesia Youth Association (AIYA) is a non-government, youth-led organisation that aims to better connect young Australians and Indonesians to each other and to Australia-Indonesia related opportunities. AIYA has active Chapters across both countries and delivers a range of events and initiatives in order to support its vision to build a stronger Australia-Indonesia relationship by advancing education and culture through increased youth engagement
The Australia-Japan Youth Dialogue (AJYD) is an independent and non-partisan diplomatic initiative dedicated to strengthening the bilateral relationship with and through future leaders. The AJYD seeks to be the premier initiative for the promotion of young leaders and ideas that will strengthen and support the future of the Australia-Japan relationship. The AJYD aims to be representative by prioritising diversity in all forms: gender, sector, location, and voice. We have an Australian and a Japanese chapter - a balancing of AJYD that promotes visibility and engagement on both sides. We work hard to promote our work and champion the relationship, building the AJYD voice and brand.
The Australia Vietnam Leadership Dialogue (AVLD) is an independent non-profit initiative that was established to nurture relationships, promote engagement and incubate collaboration between Australian and Vietnamese leaders from a broad spectrum of society. Through people to people links, we believe the bilateral relationship between Australia and Vietnam can be strengthened to contribute to the development of each respective nation.
Value Learning Intercultural Specialists is a consulting business committed to advancing global competence and fostering intercultural understanding. Value Learning provides consultation, facilitation, program design and development to education, non-profit, and government organisations. Co-founders Fran Baxter and Marcela Lapertosa are intercultural learning practitioners who have built their expertise and reputation by delivering valued learning experiences and high-quality projects to address the needs of some of the world's leading intercultural learning and education organisations. Together they manage a series of government, industry and educational projects.
Young Australians in International Affairs is a not-for profit organisation committed to engaging young Australians in international affairs, foreign policy, defence and security, to build the high calibre leaders necessary to navigate Australia's future in the Indo-Pacific century. Launched in April 2014, today Young Australians in International Affairs engages around 40,000 young professionals and students each month via online channels and provides a platform for young Australians to contribute fresh perspectives and insight into current international events and policy discussions.
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