The second ASEAN-Australia Youth Summit hosted on the 24th of August in Melbourne built upon the success of the first Summit which saw the establishment of the ASEAN Student Council of Australia (ASCA) as well as the launching of the ASEAN-Australia Agenda (AAA). Through the AAYS initiative, student councils representing Indonesia (PPIA Victoria), Malaysia (MASCA Victoria), Singapore (SOV) and Thailand (TSV) and Vietnam (MOVSA) as well as student representatives from Australia, the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar worked together towards the goals of raising awareness of ASEAN in Australia. More than 100 student delegates present at the AAYS worked towards building a community to enhance the foundation of cooperation between Southeast Asian representative bodies in Victoria and more widely throughout Australia.
In 2013 the Summit hosted a number of prominent figures including ASEAN and other government representatives, as well as speakers from the NGO sector, the private sphere and academia who supported the ASEAN-Australia Agenda. This included Australia’s first resident Ambassador to ASEAN, H.E. Simon Merrifield as well as H.E. Bagas Hapsoro the Former Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN.Addressing more than 120 students at the Summit, Ambassador Hapsoro said that while the aim of strengthening community of ASEAN and Australian students is commendable, this will not be an easy task.
“ASEAN is at a critical juncture in transforming from an association to a community. In tying together more than 604 million people and build a common cause of community building…”
In working towards this difficult mission of establishing this sense of community in Australia and ASEAN, Ambassador Hapsoro encouraged students to make greater use of knowledge gathered in Australia to contribute back to their home countries. “Youth are the most powerful resource for the future.”
These hopes were echoed in the words of Felicia Chua, Chairperson of the ASEAN Student’s Council of Australia “The Summit aims to provide an empowering platform for delegates to contribute positively to societies both in ASEAN and Australia”.
Indeed, this year’s Summit was more participatory and engaging than ever before. AAYS2013 invited international and local students, researchers, innovators and youth leaders to discuss two key themes (i) Economics, Trade and Business Links between ASEAN-Australia which includes issues such as financial regulation and integration, foreign direct investment and brain drain/gain and (ii) Regional Human Security Challenges that incorporates transnational crime, population movements and food security as some of the subjects examined by the delegates. The day itself involved thought-provoking presentations, engaging round-table discussions as well as fascinating cultural performances.
Perhaps most importantly, the Summit presented the opportunity for ASEAN and Australian students to come together and listen to each other’s vision for the future of our shared region. As a result, the objective of strengthening people-to-people links between ASEAN and Australia was central, both within the process and the outcome of the AAYS. The concrete outcome of the discussions will include an AAYS Working Paper which details the findings of the Summit. The event also served as a platform for students and a young social entrepreneurship community in Melbourne to raise their voice and channel their ideas to a wider audience.
Ambassador Merrifield wished the ASEAN-Student’s Council of Australia “the best for the future in building strong people to people links and regional partnerships.”
There are now a number of new opportunities which have just opened up. Youth/students hoping to build upon the ASEAN-Australia relationship are encouraged to send their expressions of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org