Assistant Defence Minister and Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Alex Hawke, has launched the Australia Pacific Security College in Canberra.
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Australia's first-ever specialist college to support security across the Pacific region has been launched at the Australian National University (ANU).
Minister Hawke officially opened the new Australia Pacific Security College (APSC), which will be led by ANU associate professor Meg Keen.
The APSC was created in August 2019 to support the implementation of the Pacific Island Forum Boe Declaration for Regional Security, and advance the expanded security agenda that focuses on climate, environmental, human and traditional security.
Funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the APSC is an educational institution to service all Pacific Islands Forum countries, and will help strengthen regional security through collaborative learning and enhanced people-to-people relationships. Its courses are being designed with extensive regional consultations.
"The Australia Pacific Security College is a critical part of the government’s Pacific Step-up. It will support the training of mid and senior level Pacific officials in skills, capabilities and areas of knowledge aligned with the 2018 Boe Declaration on Regional Security," Minister Hawke said.
Drawing on its wealth of expertise including in the Department of Pacific Affairs and National Security College, the Australian National University will deliver the APSC.
The APSC brings together experts, policymakers and security practitioners from around the region to work through security challenges and identify opportunities to address national and regional security priorities.
Minister Hawke explained, "The college will create a network of experienced security experts to act as a technical advice pool, supporting security policy development and implementation in Pacific Islands Forum countries. And it will establish an active alumni network of security decision makers to strengthen networks across Pacific island countries and agencies to facilitate closer collaboration on regional security issues."
Keen said, "The APSC leadership will work with Pacific governments to navigate the increasing complexity of regional security and tailor our program to their needs."
The college is an important element of the government’s Pacific Step-up, and represents a tangible commitment to regional security through targeted capacity building.
Regional consultations with national and regional agencies in the Pacific are currently underway, with visits to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and New Zealand already completed.
ANU vice-chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt said the college would draw heavily on the university's 50 years of deep Pacific expertise and networks in the region.
"ANU continues to be one of the world's leading centres for the study of Asia and the Pacific. This college is another powerful example of how our researchers and teachers drive Australia's work with the Pacific on some of the region's biggest and most pressing challenges," Professor Schmidt said.