ASEAN-Australia Young Leaders Forum
Youth Perspectives is an exciting and timely new publication that draws on the agenda of the delegates to the inaugural ASEAN-Australia Young Leaders Forum. The cast list who have shared their perspectives here reflect a range of agile young minds who are determined to take an evidence-based, dialogic approach to the emerging challenges of the region.
There are an eclectic set of concerns in this volume, ranging from social justice and environmental stewardship through to combatting mental health, boosting school attainment and re-examining the case for non-alignment in a region where Great Power politics is gaining currency The combined volume demonstrates unmet demand for the platform that has been created by the AAYLF.
Three themes can be traced running through the spine of this collection. The first is to invite future leaders to think probingly about the region through an historic prism. Tony Nguyen’s piece on the Vietnamese-Australia diaspora reflects this emphasis, and highlights a set of future opportunities in business and entertainment that were inconceivable forty years ago when conflict dominated between these two countries.
Secondly, the potential of businesses – current and new – in the region is hard to overstate. The region’s economic growth potential is genuinely impressive but, for Australia at least, there is a narrow tightrope to walk in discovering new ASEAN trading partners while remaining heavily embedded in exporting minerals and resources to China. As Maddison O’Grady-Lee notes, there is a strong case for forging closer Australian-ASEAN economic ties as a way of minimising the effects of larger trade war tensions.
Thirdly, many writers here have dwelt on supply side issues that aim to boost the efficiency, productivity, openness and fairness of various countries – including tackling cyber security risks, preparedness ahead of demographic ageing, and, most crucially, unmasking and bearing down of different forms of discrimination. Jemima Kang’s piece for instance points a torch into the dark corner of spoken accents and the need to face up to these problems in Australia as its interconnectedness with the region grows.
This initial set of Perspectives suggests that the second issue will have to cross a high bar, and I look forward to reading those in 2021.
Shamit Saggar, Director of the UWA Public Policy Institute
Sample views from ASEAN and Australian Youth
In December 2019 we circulated the ideas of our 41 ASEAN-Australia Young Leaders Forum delegates to key decision makers in the ASEAN-Australia relationship. The publication was supported by the Australian National University and the University of Western Australia Public Policy Institute.