Australia has unveiled a new defence scholarship program aimed at senior defence officials in Association of South-East Asian Nation (ASEAN) countries.
Defence Minister Marise Payne announced the scheme following the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in Sydney on the weekend.
She said this initiative would bring together emerging defence and security leaders from ASEAN countries and Australia.
One representative from each ASEAN member state will be invited to join the program each year and all successful students will attend the same course.
“Commencing in early 2019, it will foster co-operation and equip ASEAN practitioners further in the field of regional defence engagement through a two-year master of strategic studies postgraduate degree,” she said.
ASEAN was founded in 1967 to promote regional stability and economic growth, and is comprised of Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Brunei.
Australia has been a dialogue partner since 1974. The Sydney summit was the first time Australia has hosted ASEAN leaders on its home territory. Senator Payne said strengthening ASEAN security structures promoted peace and co-operation in our region.
“This program will be the first of its kind for ASEAN defence officials. It will see ASEAN’s and Australia’s best and brightest working together to share their experiences and develop their strategic thinking,” she said.
“It will help us build our collective capacity to deliver sophisticated and effective regional defence co-operation in a dynamic regional security environment.”
Senator Payne said the scholarship program exemplified the new era in Australia’s partnership with ASEAN and strengthened Australia’s substantial and practical contribution to regional security and prosperity.
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She said this built on Australia’s longstanding and extensive program of bilateral co-operation with ASEAN partners for defence training and education.
Further details about the program will be announced in coming months.