ASEAN Forum 2020

Responses to COVID-19
Now in its eighth iteration, this year’s ASEAN Forum focuses on responses to COVID-19 across ASEAN.

When: 3-4-5 August 2020 and 12 August 2020
Where: This event will be run entirely online over the course of two weeks - stay tuned for the video talks and podcasts!

As 2020 began, the world watched as the COVID-19 pandemic slowly spread its way across the globe. Across the countries of ASEAN, this unprecedented event played out in diverse ways. Countries like Vietnam demonstrated highly effective ways of managing the virus, whereas others, like Indonesia, spent considerable time denying its existence. These experiences reflect quite different responses to the pandemic – differences that underscore the diversity of political, economic and health landscapes across the ASEAN region.

Join our experts for a week-long exploration into how ASEAN and the countries it comprises have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic at a government level, economically, and in terms of health and livelihoods.

Our exciting line-up of speakers includes:

  • Dr Thushara Dibley, University of Sydney
  • Associate Professor Gregory Fox, University of Sydney
  • Associate Professor Jeff Neilson, University of Sydney
  • Dr Sandra Seno-Alday, University of Sydney
  • Dr Aim Sinpeng, University of Sydney

Each of our specialists will record a 5-minute video presentation which will be made available in the week of 3-5 August 2020. They are instructed to pitch their talk to an interested, but not necessarily academic, audience so the talks are able to be enjoyed by a wide range of people. 

In addition, our speakers will be recording 15-minute podcasts about the same topics, which will also be made available in the week of 3-5 August 2020.

Following each presentation, audience members will be invited to send in their questions by commenting under the videos by 5pm (AEST), Monday 10 August 2020. The speakers will then respond to the main questions raised by the audience in a panel discussion, which will be made available on Wednesday 12 August 2020.

All videos recorded as part of ASEAN Forum 2020: Responses to COVID-19 will be made available for public viewing on our Facebook page and our YouTube channel from the 3rd of August 2020 onwards.

All podcasts recorded as part of ASEAN Forum 2020: Responses to COVID-19 will be made available for public listening on your favourite podcast provider (Apple PodcastsSpotify, and more!).







Monday 3 August 2020


Keynote Address: ASEAN's Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dr Thushara Dibley

University of Sydney

Monday 3 August 2020


Comparing Government Responses to COVID-19 across Southeast Asia

Dr Aim Sinpeng

University of Sydney

Tuesday 4 August 2020


The Current and Ongoing Healthcare Impacts of COVID-19 across ASEAN

A/Prof Gregory Fox

University of Sydney

Tuesday 4 August 2020 17.30 Weathering Typhoon COVID: Economics of the Pandemic

Dr Sandra Seno-Alday

University of Sydney

Wednesday 5 August 2020 17.00 The Impact of COVID-19 on Rural Livelihoods for Those in the Region A/Prof Jeffrey Neilson

University of Sydney

Monday 10 August 2020


Deadline to submit your questions to SSEAC

Wednesday 12 August 2020 17.00 Panel discussion


The speakers

Thushara is the Deputy Director of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre. She researches social movements in Southeast Asia, with a particular focus on Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Her recent research projects have focused on the role of NGOs in peace-building in Timor-Leste and Indonesia and on the disability movement in Indonesia. She is the author of Partnerships, Power and Peacebuilding: NGOs as Agents of Peace in Aceh and Timor-Leste (2014) and co-editor of Activists in Transition: Progressive Politics in Democratic Indonesia (2019).

Greg is a respiratory physician, epidemiologist and clinical trialist committed to using research to improve health care among disadvantaged populations. He is clinical Academic Lead (Research) for the Faculty of Medicine and Health at Cumberland Campus. Greg's research interests include the epidemiology of infectious disease in resource-limited setting, cluster randomised trials, clinical trials and digital technologies to support health care. He also has interests in systematic reviews and meta-analyses, translation of evidence into policy, decision analysis and capacity building in research.

Jeff is an Associate Professor in Geography at the University of Sydney. He is also the Indonesia Country Coordinator for the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre.

Jeff's research focuses on economic geography, environmental governance and rural development in Southeast Asia, with specific area expertise on Indonesia. Jeff’s research interests are diverse and include issues of food security and food sovereignty, the global coffee industry, the global cocoa-chocolate industry, agrarian reform movements, sustainable livelihoods and alternative measures of well-being, agroecology, and environmental governance. He is currently leading a five-year research project examining the livelihood impacts of farmer engagement in value chain interventions across Indonesia. This research is contributing to cutting-edge international debates on the development effects of sustainability and certification programs, Geographical Indications and direct trade initiatives. 

Jeff is a fluent Indonesian language speaker and has conducted extended periods of ethnographic field research in the Toraja region of Sulawesi, where he pursues research in cultural change, landscape history, the ceremonial economy and oral poetic traditions.

Sandra is a Lecturer in the Sydney Business School at the University of Sydney, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre. Prior to embarking on an academic career, Sandra was a consultant to a wide range of medium- to large-scale companies, specialising in international business development and organisation development. In the area of international business development, her consulting engagements were mainly aimed at informing clients’ strategic business expansion efforts in Southeast Asia, and included risk assessments, market attractiveness studies, competitive analyses and business feasibility analyses. In the area of organisation development, Sandra’s consulting engagements focused on helping companies design their organisation structure and processes, and put in place human resource management systems aimed at supporting the delivery of overall corporate strategies. For her work on organisational diversity, she has received a 3-year research grant from the Investing in Women (IW) initiative, funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), to explore the nature of corporate governance networks and gender diversity in large corporations in Southeast Asian emerging markets.

Aim's research interests centre on the relationships between digital media, political participation and political regimes in Southeast Asia. She is particularly interested in the role of social media in shaping state-society relations and inducing political and social change. Together with Dr Fiona Martin, Aim was recently awarded funding by Facebook to help the social media giant understand how better to regulate hate speech online in the Asia-Pacific region.

Aim is the co-founder of the Sydney Cyber Security Network and has served as the Expert Contributor for Varieties of Democracy and the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Transformation Index, which measure degrees and types of democracy. Her other scholarly works examine popular movements against democracy in democratising states, particularly in Thailand. Prior to her academic career she worked for the World Bank, a Toronto-based investment bank, governments of Thailand and the Czech Republic and the New York State Democrat Party. Aim is also a regular commentator on Southeast Asian politics for the ABC, SBS, CBC, Channel News Asia, Al Jazeera, CNBC and Sky News.

Watch the ASEAN Forum videos below:  

ASEAN Forum 2020 Keynote Address: Responses to COVID-19 - Dr Thushara Dibley

Government Responses to COVID-19 across ASEAN - Dr Aim Sinpeng

Weathering Typhoon COVID: The Economic Consequences of COVID-19 for ASEAN - Dr Sandra Seno-Alday

Health Responses to COVID-19 across ASEAN - A/Prof Gregory Fox

The Impact of COVID-19 on People's Livelihoods around ASEAN - A/Prof Jeffrey Neilson

ASEAN Forum 2020 Panel Discussion: Responses to COVID-19