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Endeavour Awards Reception
Remarks by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
30 January 2012
It is an exciting time in the relationship between Australia and the Philippines. This year marks the 66th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries.
Recent meetings between Prime Minister Gillard and President Aquino, and between Foreign Secretary del Rosario and Foreign Minister Rudd have reaffirmed the understanding on both sides that this is a relationship that is highly valued on both sides. It is a partnership based on shared interests, and one that is both broad and deep.
As friends and neighbours, we are natural partners in global and regional forums dealing with a range of issues. Our education relationship plays a pivotal role in our strong bilateral relationship – particularly the benefits it brings to our growing people-to-people links.
2012 marks a very important milestone in Australia’s education engagement with Asia more broadly – it is 25 years since Australia opened its doors to fee paying international students.
Over the last three decades, Australia has become one of the world’s leading study destinations. Around 2.5 million international students have been educated in Australia over the last 25 years.
This builds on the strong ties developed through the Colombo Plan. Between 1950 and 1985, 40,000 Asian students studied in Australia under the Columbo Plan, developing links that have lasted generations. Many of these students were Filipinos.
Since 1950, international education has shaped Australia’s relationship with Asia in a unique and meaningful way. Australians now have a more sophisticated understanding of the region, and vice versa. International students enrich Australian communities, bringing energy, diversity and new ways of seeing things. They expand Australia’s global networks and link us to the world.
Australia has a world-class education system that is research-oriented and highly innovative. We are proud that Australia has produced Nobel Laureates like Howard Florey, who was the co-discoverer of penicillin; and Barry Marshall and Robin Warren who discovered that a bacterium causes stomach ulcers. Many other researchers at Australian universities and research centres have made significant and memorable discoveries that influence our lives every day.
Australian innovation has also led to development of:
- Google maps;
- Xerox photocopying;
- wireless internet (wifi);
- the black box flight recorder;
- polymer banknotes;
- the heart pacemaker;
- the cochlear implant (bionic ear); and
- the cervical cancer vaccine.
It is in the context of our education relationship that we meet today to recognise the achievements of students from the Philippines who have been awarded scholarships to undertake further study, research or professional development in Australia.
It is six years since the inception of the Endeavour Awards, which were developed as the Australian Government’s competitive, merit-based scholarship program to attract high-achieving scholars and professionals to Australia to further their education.
Since 2007, 80 Philippines scholars have had the opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills in Australia under this program. And ten Australians have undertaken further study and research Philippines.
The Philippines Endeavour Award recipients in 2012 are of a very high-calibre indeed. They come from diverse academic and professional backgrounds and will undertake a range of programs encompassing science, law, agriculture, archaeology, health, business management, hospitality, education, environmental studies and even baking and pastry making.
I am pleased to say that almost all the Philippine Endeavour Award recipients are able to be with us here this evening.
To the awardees, I sincerely hope that during your time in Australia you forge and strengthen personal and professional linkages between the Philippines and Australia.
I hope you return to the Philippines with new skills and qualifications and a greater understanding of Australia and Australians. You will then play an important role in further strengthening the ties between our two countries. People like me will come and go – but you will be lifelong ambassadors.
Before concluding, I want to acknowledge the support that all students receive from their family and friends. They have been with you on this road to success, and they deserve to be recognised for their part in your success. I am delighted to see so many of them here tonight.
Once again – congratulations - and all the very best for your time in Australia.