Indigenous students participating in the New Colombo Plan

The New Colombo Plan is a signature Australian Government initiative which aims to lift knowledge of the Indo-Pacific in Australia by supporting Australian undergraduates to study and intern in the region. The Plan includes scholarships for study of up to one year plus internships, and flexible mobility grant programs for short and longer-term study, internships, clinical placements, practicums and research. Students from all backgrounds are encouraged to participate.

The Plan is supporting projects which build a deeper understanding of Indigenous culture among people in Australia and the Indo-Pacific. Since the Plan commenced in 2014, a number of Indigenous students have benefitted from New Colombo Plan scholarships and mobility grants. Some examples of their enriching experiences are outlined below.

Indigenous New Colombo Plan scholarships providing unique opportunities

Indigenous student Amarina Smith from Griffith University was named the New Colombo Plan 2016 Hong Kong Fellow, the highest ranked scholarship recipient for Hong Kong in that year.

A Bachelor of Laws and Government and International Relations student, Amarina is undertaking study at the University of Hong Kong and plans to undertake an internship with a legal firm in Hong Kong. Amarina, who studied Mandarin at high school in Rockhampton, said she applied for the scholarship as she had always had an interest in Asia.

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Amarina Smith receives her New Colombo Plan Award from the Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP.

“I’m looking forward to expanding my knowledge of culture and in particular exploring the rights of ethnic minorities and how they are affected both in Australia and the Pacific region. It will give me the knowledge and understanding of how other countries have approached these issues and bring that back to Australia to help change the living circumstances and rights of Indigenous people.”

Amarina Smith, 2016 New Colombo Plan Hong Kong Fellow

Jasmin Hammond, an Indigenous student at Western Sydney University, received a 2014 New Colombo Plan Scholarship to undertake a semester of study at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, studying chemistry and environmental studies. Jasmin, who grew up in Brewarrina in NSW, described studying in Hong Kong as an “intense but incredibly rewarding” experience.

“By showing them the successes I have reached by attending university, I hope to act as a role model. To inspire them to follow in my foot steps to attend university in the future, and take part in scholarships, such as this one.  University is the key for Indigenous people to become leaders of Australia in the future.”

Jasmin Hammond, 2014 New Colombo Plan Hong Kong Scholar

Jasmin said her overseas study experience had taught her “how to take new ways of learning and cultural diversity in (her) stride” and given her the confidence to apply to study medicine, into which she was subsequently accepted. 

Through her New Colombo Plan experience, Jasmin hopes to inspire young Indigenous children to attend university after they finish school and to promote the New Colombo Plan scholarship to school students in Brewarrina.

Charlee Law is a Kamilaroi woman residing in Sydney and studying a Bachelor of Natural Science (Health and Environment) at Western Sydney University. She received a 2015 New Colombo Plan scholarship to study natural and physical science at the National University of Singapore and intern in an organisation in Singapore that focused on environmental health, planning or climate change.

She is also a Trainee Environmental Health Officer under the NSW Aboriginal Environmental Health Officer Training Program, managed in partnership with NSW Health and Local Government.

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The Hon Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs with Western Sydney University students and Indigenous New Colombo Plan scholarship recipients Jasmin Hammond and Charlee Law.

“As Australian participation in the New Colombo Plan is only recent, it is important to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander membership in this program from the very start. We, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth, are the leaders of tomorrow. Initiatives such as the New Colombo Plan can be utilised to build leadership and workplace skills and to inspire others to reach their full potential, to take a step into the unknown, with the knowledge that you will be fully supported in your endeavours to reach your dreams.”

Charlee Law, 2015 New Colombo Plan Singapore Scholar

Charlee believes the New Colombo Plan scholarship will allow her to gain a broad perspective and first-hand experience of Singapore’s successes and achievements in rising to environmental health challenges that emerge from limited land availability, high population, water quality management and ensuring food security. She hopes to apply the knowledge and skills she learns in Singapore to her job back home.

New Colombo Plan Mobility Program promoting understanding of Indigenous issues

In 2015, ten New Colombo Plan Mobility Program students from the University of Western Australia’s School of Indigenous Studies were supported to travel to Bali, Indonesia to explore issues of Indigenous knowledge sustainability and global Aboriginality.

“We were challenged as Indigenous scholars to broaden our perspectives and apply innovative global ways of sharing and communicating intercultural teaching. This is a challenge I was extremely excited about and one we couldn’t take for granted.”

Ziggy Fatnowna, University of Western Australia, 2015 New Colombo Plan Mobility Student
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Students from University of Western Australia in Bali, Indonesia on their 2015 New Colombo Plan mobility project.

Delivered in collaboration with The Bali Institute for Global Renewal (BIGR), the Mobility Program students studied community-based Indigenous knowledge exchange programs, focusing on sustainable cultural tourism industries across the island. They also visited cultural arts programs in Ubud, small fishing industries in Amed, and the village of Mengi in western Bali.

For further information, please go to dfat.gov.au/new-colombo-plan, follow the program on Twitter @NewColomboPlan, like us on Facebook at facebook.com/newcolomboplan or contact ncp.secretariat@dfat.gov.au

Indigenous undergraduate students interested in participating in the New Colombo Plan should speak to their university’s international office in the first instance.

Last Updated: 4 April 2016