Inaugural New Colombo Plan ASEAN fellow and UWA Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) student Hayley Winchombe made the most of her time in the region, including interning with the ASEAN Foundation in Jakarta and volunteering for their eMpowering Youths Across ASEAN intensive training workshop in Bangkok. Recently returned to Australia, she is setting up an ASEAN-Australia youth partnership to further links made and expand opportunities for collaboration.
Hayley’s experience shows the value of in-country study and work to gain a deep understanding of people, place and culture, as well as establishing strong connections for better regional collaboration.
In reflecting on the internship experience she says, “Interning is challenging, rewarding and life-changing. Internship host organisations enrich our regional experiences and empower NCP students to be agents of change in building ties between Australia and our host locations.”
Speaking about her time working within the ASEAN Secretariat in late 2018, she expands on the value of in-country work to gain insight into regional cooperation:
“Sitting in the open office of the ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Program Phase II, I gained a new appreciation for the breadth, depth, and impact of ASEAN integration, and of Australia's role in supporting this. Our regional agenda brings benefit to all Australians. Through ASEAN mechanisms Australia is able to contribute to combating regional challenges and ensuring Australia's key interests in the region are protected.”
Hayley also volunteered for the eMpowering Youths Across ASEAN Regional Capacity Building and Orientation workshop in Bangkok. This one-week training for 100 youth aged 19 to 35 from across ASEAN saw delegates work on designing and budgeting for a two-week volunteer project in Cambodia, Indonesia or Malaysia. This was a unique experience that connected her to amazing young leaders from Southeast Asia who are actively engaged in taking on some of the biggest socio-economic challenges such as education, sustainability and community empowerment to build a more equitable and prosperous region.
More broadly, Hayley says: “The New Colombo Plan is shaping a cohort of Asia literate leaders passionate about building closer ties to the region. Australia's role in the Indo-Pacific region will be strengthened by people-to-people links, institutional connections and transnational leadership.”
Since her return to Australia, Hayley has been working on the creation of a grassroots organisation to connect Australian and ASEAN youth. The ASEAN-Australia Strategic Youth Partnership (AASYP) aims to inspire Australian and ASEAN youth to engage with each other to learn more about the region, ASEAN affairs and ASEAN-Australia cooperation.
According to Hayley, “there is a lack of knowledge about ASEAN and its member states amongst Australian youth.” This is something she hopes AASYP will redress by building knowledge of the ASEAN-Australia relationship and the region, promoting links and inspiring collaboration and social enterprise.
Big aims and actions, from a New Colombo Plan high achiever and changemaker.