Australian Embassy
The Philippines

Australia-ASEAN Council visits the Philippines 23-25 November


The Board of the Australia-ASEAN Council, led by its high-profile business woman Ms Christine Holgate (CEO, Blackmores) will make its first overseas visit to the Republic of the Philippines from 23-25 November 2016.

The Australia-ASEAN Council is a key advisory and funding body established in 2015 by the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs the Hon Julie Bishop MP to promote relations between Australia and the countries of South-East Asia.

The board consists of eight prominent Australians from business, academia, the arts and culture and media sectors (full list attached).

The visit to the Philippines is the first occasion that the board has convened a meeting in an ASEAN member country

Ms Holgate, whose vitamin and supplement company Blackmores was recently announced as the New South Wales Exporter of the Year, said the visit to the Philippines coincided with the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and the Philippines.

“The Council is pleased to be able to hold its first ever meeting in an ASEAN member country in the Philippines which has a strong and dynamic economic, political and social relationship with Australia,” she said.

The Council’s visit is particularly significant on the eve of the Philippines’ year as host of ASEAN in 2017.

Ms Holgate praised Australia’s large Filipino community of 225,000 people – Australia’s fifth largest diaspora – and growing economic two-way trade and investment of more than A$4.9 billion. 

“The Australia-ASEAN Council is pleased to support a range of programs building the people-to-people and institutional linkages between Australia and the Philippines,” Ms Holgate said.

These included:

  • Arts and cultural exchange including a visit to the Philippines by the sensational Australian-Filipino singer Cyrus, winner of the 2015 ‘The X-Factor Australia’;
  • Capacity building programs such as the Disaster Resilience Education Capacity Building in South-East Asia – a collaboration involving the University of the Philippines and the University of Newcastle;
  • Education building through the ASEAN BRIDGE school partnership program linking Australian and Philippines schools;
  • Australia-ASEAN Emerging Leaders’ Program (A2ELP) bringing together social entrepreneurs for a series of capacity-building and networking workshops in Australia in 2017; and
  • Promotion of Women in Leadership (WiL) in business, transport and politics.

Ms Holgate, who will also address a special ANZCHAM Women in Leadership breakfast meeting with Filipino women business leaders on Friday 25 November, said the Australia-ASEAN Council supported Women in Leadership programs in all the countries of ASEAN including the Philippines.


“Our board has a strong focus on Women in Leadership issues, whether it is through skills development for women football coaches and administrators (a new program with the Philippines Football Federation), or through our support across the region of the Women in Transport Leadership forum (principally through board member Gabrielle Costigan, CEO Linfox International).