Australian Embassy
The Philippines

SP150428 - Australia Awards Pre-Departure Briefing congratulatory remarks

Congratulatory Remarks by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
Australia Awards Pre-Departure Briefing
28 April 2015

• Our 98 Australia Awards Scholarships candidates
• Milalin Javellana, our Human Resources and Organisational Development (HROD) Facility Director
• My colleagues from the Australian Embassy
• Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a joy to stand before one of the largest contingents of Australia Awards scholars assembled in recent years.

On behalf of the Australian Government, my warmest congratulations to you all. The Australia Awards go to the best, the brightest, and the most deserving; coming from different regions of the Philippines. It is something for which you have worked hard and of which you may be very proud.

Australia’s partnership with the Philippines has been long-standing. It is a relationship that is both deep and diverse. We are collaborating in productive ways on a range of issues that are important to both countries, including peace and security, disaster response and preparedness, and sustainable economic development.

The Australian Government has supported Filipino scholars starting with the Colombo Plan in the 1950s. You will therefore be pleased to hear that we have recently launched the New Colombo Plan. This flagship initiative of the Australian Government aims to increase Australians’ understanding of the Indo-Pacific region by supporting Australian undergraduate students to study and undertake internships in the region. In 2014, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, announced the further expansion of the program to 35 countries, including the Philippines.

As you can see, Australia Awards Scholarships follows this tradition of promoting education and people-to-people links between our two countries.

To date, Australia has sent 2,500 Filipinos to Australia for graduate studies. I am pleased that there are so many of you who have taken up this chance to make a difference in Philippines.

Our Australian alumni in the Philippines have proven time and again that they are bringing their achievements back to their communities to inspire positive change.

During my provincial travels, I have made it a point to meet our Australian alumni. I have always been impressed with the results they have achieved through their re-entry action plans or REAPs. If I may just give you a few examples:

• Dandy Victa of the National Council on Disability Affairs helped empower persons with disability through his internet-based work-at-home program for PWDs;

• Antonia Alhambra of the Department of Education (DepEd) helped ensure classrooms are properly constructed by developing an Inspection Handbook for school principals;

• Dino Ponsaran of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Region 6 helped local legislators craft business-friendly policies; and,

• Angelo Arboleda of the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) assisted in the development of a system to deliver accessible and accurate geospatial information to the public.

I anticipate good things from you upon your return. I also strongly encourage you to become advocates of Australian education and champions of change through the Australia Awards alumni network.

While we certainly want to impress upon you your responsibilities as a scholar, I also hope you learn as much as you can and experience the diversity and richness of multicultural Australia. I hope you take time to get to know Australia and its people.

Again, I wish you all the very best and hope you have a rewarding time in my country.

Congratulations, and mabuhay!