La Trobe students help organise first ASEAN-Australia Youth Summit (Issue 16, 2012)

ASEAN discussionsOn 28 July 2012, Melbourne Town Hall hosted the first ASEAN-Australia Youth Summit (AAYS); three La Trobe University students were involved in organising this unique event – the first of its kind held in Australia.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a geo-political and economic organisation of ten Southeast Asian countries. ASEAN aims to promote regional economic growth, peace, social progress, and cultural development among its members.

These broader aims were encompassed in the Youth Summit’s objectives, they included:

  • The establishment of a strong ASEAN youth leader community in Australia
  • The facilitation of ASEAN-Australia relations, especially at the youth leader level 
  • To build awareness about ASEAN in Australia
  • To build mutual understanding between ASEAN and Australian youth

The summit was jointly hosted by the Victorian student councils of Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand. Three La Trobe University students, Nick Metherall, Hung Tran and Mai Nguyen were active participants in the steering committee for the Summit.

The first half of the event began with the ASEAN anthem, followed by speeches by various VIPs and a presentation by the newly formed ASEAN Student Council of Australia (ASCA) where they expressed their goals. The second part of the day was dominated by discussions focused on ASEAN and ASEAN-Australia issues. La Trobe student, Mai Nguyen found the questions raised during the discussions to be relevant and interesting.
 
‘During the discussion, there were lots of questions raised on what tools can be used to measure the relationship between Australia and ASEAN, what are the differences between the Australian education system and ASEAN countries systems, the reason why we (ASEAN Students) are here studying in Australia, how ASEAN students can contribute towards building their nations, and whether it was important for Australia and ASEAN to move closer together.

‘Overall, I like the discussions most because I could see and feel the concern and inspiration of all the young ASEAN delegates on how to contribute to the development of ASEAN as a group instead of as individuals. These topics perfectly matched with the theme of the Summit Youth Leader Today, Nation Builders Tomorrow,’ says Mai.

The summit was also a chance for all students from the ten ASEAN countries to consider themselves as an ASEAN group, instead of individual countries.

‘As an operations officer in the committee team, I had such a great opportunity to meet and work with other students from other ASEAN countries and we have learnt so many valuable lessons and experiences from each other. We worked together with a common goal and saw ourselves as we are – ASEAN rather than different nationalities. This is the best team that I have ever had so far,’ says Mai.  

Nick Metherall (La Trobe International Relations Association) said the event helped develop ‘strong ASEAN student leader communities and also facilitate[d] closer cooperation between these groups and Australia’.  

Manager – International Relations, Leon Lyell, says the strong involvement by La Trobe students as organisers and participants demonstrates their commitment to making an active contribution to the region and also reflects the University’s strong history of engagement with Asia.’

Some noteworthy special guests on the day included:

  • Australian Ambassador to ASEAN, H.E. Ms Gillian Bird
  • Indonesian Ambassador to Australia, H.E. Mr Primo A. Joelianto
  • Acting High Commissioner of Brunei Darussalam, H.E. Dk. Rohayaty Yassin
  • Third Secretary of Indonesian Embassy, Mr Dhani Eko Wibowo
  • Minister Counsellor of Vietnamese Embassy, Mr Quang Trung Nguyen
  • Consulate-General of Indonesia, Mr Irmawan Emir Wisnandar
  • Indonesian Vice Consul, Mr Vitrio Naldi
  • Consulate-General of Malaysia, Dr Mohd. Rameez Yahya
  • Second Secretary (Political) of the Singapore High Commission, Ms Fiona Zhang
  • Director of Education Malaysia Australia, Dr Jumiati Ismail

Further information about the Summit is at aseanausyouth.com