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  • Writer's pictureBait Al-Amanah

The Southeast Asia Leadership Program 2024

Aiza Mohamad, Consultant in the Foreign Affairs Division at Bait Al Amanah, was invited to join the inaugural instalment of the Southeast Asia Leadership Program, which took place in Melbourne, in the state of Victoria, Australia.

The five-day program, running from 5th February to 9th February 2024, was organised by the Australian Government, the Asia Education Foundation, and the University of Melbourne, assembled participants from all over Southeast Asia. Participants from all over Southeast Asia represented a wide range of backgrounds, such as research institutes, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil services, the private sector, and academia. This constituted the first of a series of events hosted by the state of Victoria and the Australian government, taking place around the time of the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit 2024.

Each day of the program offered a multifaceted exploration of emerging forms of leadership. Central to all of these themes was a fascinating deep-dive into Australian Indigenous conceptualisations of what it means to be a leader, whether it is in a small team, an organisation, a community, or a country. The organisers consistently platformed Indigenous voices throughout, which was a highly valuable perspective to explore, particularly in the wake of the results of the 2023 Australian Indigenous Voices Referendum. For example, on the first day, a welcoming address was given by a leader of the Wurundjeri people on the grounds of the University of Melbourne. He took this time to explain his people’s role in the history of Victoria, his thoughts on the results of the referendum, and his hopes for emerging leaders around the region to empower the voices of others.

Participants also had the opportunity to partake in discussion with a number of thought leaders from around Australia, representing the government, academia, businesses, and NGOs. The participants also visited several landmark locations such as the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) and the Parliament of Victoria. These sessions were highly interactive and conducive to discussion of the history of common understandings of leadership in Australia and around Southeast Asia. Participants exchanged insights from their respective cultures and challenges they have individually faced, whether as a leader or with other leadership figures with whom they have interacted.

The inaugural Southeast Asia Leadership Program drew to a close with a dinner cruise on the Yarra River. This was a valuable, highly educational, and deeply enriching experience for all of the participants. Bait Al Amanah thanks the Australian Government, the Asia Education Foundation, and the University of Melbourne for extending this opportunity to one of our representatives.

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