Australian New Colombo Plan (NCP) students joined the ASEAN Foundation’s Model ASEAN Meeting (AFMAM) in Bangkok for the first time.
Hosted in Bangkok, the recent 5th AFMAM was an opportunity for university students from across ASEAN and Australia to understand how ASEAN decision-makers address regional issues. Through a series of simulated ASEAN meetings, the 160 competitively selected delegates discussed key problems affecting ASEAN and Australia, and drafted plans on how ASEAN should respond.
The topics discussed at AFMAM spanned the varied and complex issues affecting today’s Indo-Pacific region, including counter-terrorism, the health of migrant workers, the development of an inclusive digital economy and the transition to renewable energy.
As a celebration of Australia’s involvement, AFMAM 2019 also hosted a dedicated simulation on Australia and ASEAN relations. This focused on enhancing the Sydney Declaration made by ASEAN and Australia leaders on the future of the ASEAN-Australia partnership at ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in March 2018.
Australian Ambassador to ASEAN, Ms Jane Duke, said Australia now ASEAN 2019 and activities like AFMAM offered a unique opportunity for Australian and ASEAN youth to develop their intercultural understanding, leadership skills, deepen their understanding of ASEAN-Australia relations and build lasting friendships.
“AFMAM delegates were able to bear witness and learn from the incredible diversity of the region.” Ms Duke said.
“Through the exchange of culture, ideas and knowledge, delegates were able to hone their negotiation and leadership skills in a uniquely-ASEAN context and build lasting connections with their peers.”
Australian delegate to AFMAM and 2019 NCP ASEAN Fellow, Cameron Allan, said that a highlight of AFMAM was the opportunity to discuss a regional problem in depth.
“As part of the ASEAN Economic Community track, my time was spent discussing the future of cities. This involved debating how ASEAN nations could reform transportation, waste management and digital connectivity to build smarter and more inclusive cities” Mr Allan said.
“AFMAM was a rare opportunity to listen to and comprehend perspectives on urban development from across the Southeast Asian region. Hearing directly from ASEAN youth has helped me appreciate the complexity of regional problems, especially how the development gap between nations can impact policy solutions.”
Another Australian delegate, Ashley Ramachandran, particularly enjoyed the cultural experience of AFMAM.
“It was fascinating to be surrounded by so many diverse individuals and learn about the unique aspects of different cultures. AFMAM has brought me closer with so many young people from the region with the desire to make a difference” Mrs Ramachandran said.
Australia’s involvement in the 5th AFMAM this year was proudly supported by Australia now ASEAN 2019.