The Philippine Studies: Australia and Beyond conference held at La Trobe's city campus on 15–16 September drew an enthusiastic group of researchers from Australia and the Philippines. The aim of this forum was to exchange views on issues concerning the Philippines and present their research to peers.
Day one was organised by La Trobe's Philippines Australia Studies Centre (PASC) and FASTCO, the Victorian association of Philippine postgraduate researchers. The day began with welcoming remarks by Trevor Hogan, Director of PASC, followed by an opening speech by the Philippines Ambassador to Australia, H.E. Belen Anota, who was accompanied by her colleague Gigi Kalong, Consul in Melbourne. Throughout the day, 14 Philippine postgraduate students from La Trobe, Melbourne and Monash universities presented reports on their research, followed by questions from the audience. Their research topics were grouped under the broad headings of gender and migration, education, media, culture, and economics and governance, which together provided scope for a wide range of discussions and views.
Day two, organised by the Philippine Studies Association of Australia and coordinated by Paul Mathews, featured papers on specific matters relating to the Philippines from senior Philippine and Australian scholars based in Australia, the Philippines and other South-East Asian countries. Their presentations covered a wide range of topics including gender issues in the Philippines and Australia, the situation of Filipino domestic workers in other countries, the state of democracy in the Philippines, education and culture, and post-mining concerns in the Philippines.
The research forum will give a boost to Philippine studies in Australia and will help to promote cooperation between research scholars. Publication of the papers as articles in scholarly refereed journals is being proposed by the organising committee. Plans are also in place for a further forum next year, this time at a national level. It will be the third event of its kind and will contribute to the progress of better mutual understanding and closer educational links between the two countries.