Melbourne to turn blue for peace
Iconic Melbourne landmarks will be bathed in blue on 24 October to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. Government House, Parliament House, the Town Hall, the Royal Exhibition Building, Federation Square, the Arts Centre spire, the MCG, the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, St Patrick’s Cathedral, the Bolte Bridge and the State Library of Victoria will all take part in the international ‘Turn the World UN Blue’ campaign.
Landmarks across the globe including the Empire State Building, UN Headquarters, Tokyo's SkyTree Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Athen's Temple of Zeus, Edinburgh Castle and many others will be illumined blue, the official colour of the United Nations. The campaign aims to unite global citizens by promoting the message of peace, development and human rights.
Melbourne is a beacon for tolerance and multiculturalism. It is only fitting that so many Melbourne landmarks will turn blue to underscore the value we place on the principles of dignity and prosperity for all. Everyone in Melbourne is encouraged to shine bright and shine blue on 24 October.
All buildings are invited to participate in the campaign by illuminating their façades in UN blue. The community can get involved by sharing their favourite “choose blue” images using the hashtag #UNBlue on social media.
Australia Indonesia Business Forum 2015
Careers in the Australia-Indonesia business relationship was something about 150 students from Monash University learned about during a day of presentations from the likes of Andrew Bird, Executive Director, UBS Australia, Destry Damayanti, Chief Economist, Bank Mandiri Indonesia, Dr Alan Finkel, Chancellor, Monash University and our own Estelle Parker, A/g State Director, Victoria, DFAT. Alongside the Ambassador from Indonesia, His Excellency Mr Nadjib Riphat Kesoema, Ms Parker spoke of the importance of Indonesia to Australia’s strategic and foreign policy and outlined initiatives to build people-to-people links, such as the DFAT-funded
BRIDGE program, which links school students and teachers from both countries with each other and helps Australian and Indonesian children to learn about each other’s religion, each other’s culture and each other’s way of life. The Ambassador noted close cooperation in areas such as counter-terrorism and forums such as the G20 and APEC.
New on Facebook
The Australia-China Council (ACC), Australia-Japan Foundation (AJF) and Australia-Korea Foundation (AKF) are now on Facebook, joining our growing list of social media accounts.
‘Why ASEAN and Why Now?’ Business seminar
‘Why ASEAN and Why Now?’ was the question five of our heads of mission from the ASEAN region, along with four Senior Trade Commissioners, addressed in front of about 230 business, government and cultural representatives at the Melbourne Town Hall on Friday 11 September. ‘Why ASEAN and Why Now?’ is a joint Austrade and DFAT publication that examines Australia’s trade relationship with ASEAN, the opportunities and challenges for Australian business engaging with the region and the future of the Australia-ASEAN trade relationship.
African Media Visit
'How can Australia's African communities contribute to economic growth in Africa?' was one of the questions a group of respected Victorians were asked during a lunch with African journalists hosted by John Richardson, State Director on 7 September. The group of Victorians, including President of Victoria's Legislative Assembly, deputy Multicultural Commissioner and CEO of Arts Victoria, explained Australia's history of immigration, the institutional under pinnings of our multicultural society, and what the Victorian Government does to promote respect and diversity in one of the world's most culturally diverse cities. The journalists are visiting Australia as guests of the Australian government. The purpose of their visit is to familiarise themselves with Australia's people, culture, systems and economy and to explore potential for collaboration in the mining sector.
Central Europe Business Forum
Victoria State Director, John Richardson, delivered the keynote address to the Central Europe Business Forum on 12 August, highlighting the significant changes underway in the Central European economies, with the strong transition from planned to market-based economies, delivering higher growth rates than in the rest of Europe. The Australian Government was working to expand relations with Central Europe as new opportunities opened up for Australian business in both the trade and investment space. In addition to traditional Australian exports such as resources and wine, high value added products and solutions with embedded IP and capabilities, not available locally and customised to the client, were needed; these were just the strengths of many Australian and Victorian SMEs.
China-Australia Free Trade Agreement Outreach
On 13 August, Estelle Parker, Deputy State Director, briefed Victorian businesses on the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. Business representatives were interested to learn how the FTA will affect their sector when it comes into force, particularly the improved access for agriculture and dairy and best-ever access for Victoria’s significant services sector into the China market. The event was organised by ShineWing Australia in partnership with the Australia China Business Council.
Consular Corps Tour of Victoria University and AFL Game
On Thursday 6 August, members of the Consular Corps attended a tour of the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL) at Victoria University (VU). ISEAL provides sophisticated and technologically advanced world-class elite athlete training facilities. The Consular Corps visited these facilities including the ‘Altitude Hotel’ for building the cardiovascular strength of elite athletes by living in a low oxygen environment. VU’s Altitude Hotel is one of only two such facilities in Australia. The Vice Chancellor Peter Dawkins then hosted lunch for the Consular Corps with VU staff.
VU then hosted the Consular Corps to an Australian Football League (AFL) game on Saturday 8 August 2015 during Round 19 - the Multicultural Round. The Multicultural Round is themed to celebrate the AFL’s cultural diversity and the role multicultural communities have played in the game over the last 150 years. Players from culturally diverse backgrounds make up 15 per cent of the AFL player list. Since it started in 2005, the AFL Multicultural Program has ensured that more than 150,000 people from migrant families have experienced AFL games and come into contact with their own local football communities.
Diplomatic Briefing – World Trade Organisation
Australian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva H.E. Mr Hamish McCormick gave a diplomatic briefing on Friday 7 August. He discussed current WTO developments including negotiations that are being jointly led by Australia on a services-only free trade agreement known as the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA).
Diplomatic Briefing - Laos
Australian Ambassador to Laos, H.E. Mr John Williams gave a diplomatic briefing on current political, economic and development environment in Laos, Laos’ regional relationships and the bilateral relationship between our two countries. The Ambassador spoke about Australia’s well regarded aid program spanning 5 decades and highlighted the significance of the rapidly developing hydro-power industry. 2016 is a big year for Laos, holding the position of chair of ASEAN.
LaunchPad Pop-up - Start-Ups and Innovation
Australian Ambassador to Israel, H.E. Mr Dave Sharma was the keynote speaker at a Launchpad Pop-up Event recently. The event gave the 100+ attendees a snapshot into what makes a successful culture for start-ups and innovation by comparing Israel vs Australia's approach to this space. The Ambassador spoke about why the "start up nation" is so successful – there are more Israeli companies on the Nasdaq than all of Europe, India, China and Japan combined. He was joined on a panel by Holly Ransom and Nathan Cher, speaking about the current Australian system for innovation, questioning if Australia does enough. This was facilitated by Jan Owen, CEO Foundation for Young Australians. Three young entrepreneurs then pitched their ideas to the panel with each being offered guidance and connections.
Australian Government Leaders Network
Australian Government Leaders Network Victoria met on Wednesday 22 July to discuss Agency Integration Case Studies. DFAT State Director John Richardson and Mr Peter van Vliet, Regional Director Victoria/Tasmania, Department of Immigration and Border Protection presented on the integration experience of DFAT/AusAID and Immigration/Customs.
International Media Visit
State Director, John Richardson, hosted a lunch for a group of senior media figures from Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea (ROK) and Turkey, which together with Australia form the MIKTA group. MIKTA is an innovative partnership and informal consultative forum based on shared values and interests, aimed at advancing the common interests of the international community. The Presiding Officers of Parliament together with a number of Victorian journalists and senior officials discussed Victoria’s international engagement and rich multicultural society with the group.
Consular Corps Tour to Ballarat 16-17 June 2015
The Victorian Consular Corps visited Ballarat on 16-17 June 2015 as guests of the Victorian State Office of DFAT. The visit showcased the exciting economic potential of the region with advanced manufacturing and high value added agribusiness, tapping into global supply chains, represented by Gekko Systems, Albins Performance Transmissions and Hakubaku Australia. The City of Ballarat presented a vision of where the town and region is going while Ballarat Wildlife Park, Sovereign Hill, and the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka highlighted the region’s rich cultural and historical heritage.
Book Launch: Jim Plim: Ambassador Extraordinary
The Victoria State Office in association with the Australian Institute of International Affairs Victoria Branch hosted the Melbourne book launch of the biography of Sir James Plimsoll, Jim Plim: Ambassador Extraordinary by Jeremy Hearder on 27 May 2015. Author and former diplomat, Jeremy Hearder, together with Dr Peter Edwards, author of Arthur Tange: Last of the Mandarins provided an engaging overview of Australia’s post war diplomacy told through the lives of two of its most towering figures.
Briefing by Chief of Protocol
The Victoria State Office hosted a briefing by DFAT’s Chief of Protocol, Mr Chris Cannan of the Victorian Consular Corps on Friday 22 May 2015. Mr Cannan outlined the department’s forthcoming move to online protocol service delivery and discussed other issues of concern to the Corps.
Indian Parliamentary Delegation Dinner
State Director, John Richardson, hosted a dinner on 20 May 2015 for a delegation of six Indian members of parliament attended by the Presiding Officers of the Victorian Parliament and other Victorian MPs with an interest in India. The visit, sponsored by Australia’s High Commission in New Delhi focused on Melbourne as a ‘smart city’, Australia’s experience of economic reform and the prospects for the Australia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement currently under negotiation. The dinner was a valuable opportunity to build links between parliamentarians in the two countries.
Consular Corps Visit to the Australian Synchrotron
The Victoria State Office organised a visit by the Victorian Consular corps to the Australian Synchrotron on 14 May 2015. The Australian Synchrotron is a world-class national research facility that uses accelerator technology to produce a powerful beam of light used for a broad range of important research applications. The Synchrotron helps academic researchers and industry from Australia and around the globe investigate problems as diverse as global malnutrition, revealing the secrets behind works of art, problems in manufacturing and major breakthroughs in biomedical science.
Australia Awards Leadership Program Victorian Government Linkages
The State Government of Victoria, in collaboration with the Victoria State Office, hosted a panel discussion on governance and policy making in Victoria for Australia Awards Leadership Program recipients on Wednesday 13 May. The presentation was part of a program to connect scholars from around the region with their counterparts in the Victorian government and gave them an opportunity to learn about the development of policy at the state level, the role and structure of the Victorian public sector and how Victoria is engaging internationally. Prior to the discussion, the group was given a guided tour of Parliament House.
H.E. Ms Frances Adamson, Australian Ambassador to China in Conversation with Jim Middleton