Welcome Remarks by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
Philippines-Australia Alumni Association (PA3i) National Conference – Alumni Night
Crowne Plaza Galleria Manila, Quezon City
31 January 2014
• Mr Simeon Marfori II, PA3i National President
• Officers and members of PA3i
• Distinguished guests
Good evening. Thank you for your warm welcome to Anthony, Layton and me. It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the PA3i National Conference Alumni Night.
I always look forward to gatherings and opportunities to be with you, our alumni. The Filipino alumni have always been close to my heart – I enjoy meeting you and hearing of your success, partly due to the training you received in Australia. I am inspired by the passion and drive to use your Australian education, to contribute to Philippine development.
I am not surprised that you have chosen a meaningful and relevant theme for your national conference this year: “I am PA3i. I am Change.” The theme embodies PA3i’s response to the challenge of effecting meaningful change, which is also at the core of the Australian Government’s development assistance and other varied programs in the Philippines. We are pleased that PA3i is taking on a more proactive role in initiating social development projects that continue to promote meaningful relations between Australia and the Philippines.
The past year has been witness to a challenging time in the Philippines as the nation was hit by disasters and humanitarian crisis. But, at the same time, the past year also saw the undying Filipino spirit that has inspired millions of people across the globe. PA3i’s initiative to empower the alumni to live out this Filipino spirit and be agents of social change is truly timely and remarkable.
Change is not always easy. Change is not always comfortable. When you went to Australia to pursue higher education, you experienced personal changes – a new environment, a different way of life.
I believe you will all agree with me – embracing change has helped you in your quest to become the best version of yourself. Embracing change enables you to make a difference, to meet your full potential, and to explore unlimited opportunities.
A particular change, which I consider important for all of us, is to embrace a vibrant broader alumni network which includes the increasing number of privately-funded students.
As you embark on another change journey, a whole new set of challenges may come your way – you may need to sacrifice personal time to embrace volunteerism; you may need to step out of your comfort zones to support the causes you personally believe in. But at the end of the day, it does not require a lot to make a difference. All you need is a willing heart and a ready hand, which I believe all of you already have.
The Australian Government supports you in your noble endeavour as you transition from being ambassadors of Australian education to being ambassadors of social change. I am confident that your time in Australia equipped you with the quality education and skills you need to effect meaningful change, and I commend you for putting your Australian degrees to good use through meaningful and noteworthy causes.
During your program earlier today, we launched the pilot Alumni Grant Scheme, a small competitive grant facility worth Philippine Peso 2.7 million. We hope you will use this opportunity in building and strengthening your professional, business, and personal networks and relationships in the Philippines and Australia, and enable an environment to exchange ideas and promote worthy causes.
So go where your passion will take you – whether to far-flung barangay or to your local community – and be the movers and shakers of social change of this generation. We look forward to hearing great stories of growth and development as you create ripples of change in the community and national levels armed with your Australian education.
Truly, it is a joy to be surrounded by people with such great passion and enthusiasm. I am sure tonight will be another wonderful night. Congratulations again and may you all have a great evening!