25 August to 1 September 2012
DFAT hosted a delegation of journalists from across Africa for an International Media Visit focused on the Africa Down Under conference in Perth, WA, 25 August to 1 September 2012. The visit was aimed at raising awareness of Australia amongst the African media and, through the media, Africans more broadly. The focus of the Africa Down Under Conference was mining, a sector which plays an important role in Australia's relationships with African countries, both through private investment and government-sponsored aid programs, along with strong relationships forged through the Commonwealth. DFAT wished to raise awareness of shared values and, for example, the large African diaspora in Australia. The journalists who visited were: Mrs Dzifa Bampoe (Ghana), Mr Luc-Roger Mbala Bemba (Democratic Republic of Congo), Mr Ellis Mnyandu (Republic of South Africa), Peterson Thiong'o (Kenya) and Mr Olivier Caslin (France/Francophone Africa).
The journalists enjoyed a half-hour meeting with Senator Bob Carr, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, during which Senator Carr emphasised Australia's work supporting African governments to build their capacity in regulating their mining industries, including in light of environmental considerations, to ensure sustainable and equitable benefits for all; scholarships offered through the Australia Awards program; and Australia's support for the African Development Bank (including the African Mining for Development centre). Along with Australia's close commercial ties with many African states, Senator Carr outlined Australia's growing diplomatic representation in Africa, with two new missions recently opened in Ethiopia and Senegal. Senator Carr also answered questions about domestic issues, such as Australia's efforts to Close the Gap on Indigenous disadvantage.
Besides mining-related activities, the delegation visited the West Australian Maritime Museum, learning about Australia's heritage management sector and enjoying a "behind the scenes" tour of the conservation laboratories. Maalinup, an Indigenous art gallery in the Swan Valley, hosted the visitors for an afternoon of cultural exchange and learning. And the journalists were treated to a backstage visit to His Majesty's Theatre, where set preparations for a world premiere of the West Australian Ballet's new production of 'Pinocchio' were in full swing.