Photo of crowd waving flags of ASEAN member states

ASEAN in Focus 2022

What does Australia need to know about ASEAN?
Now in its tenth iteration, this year’s ASEAN in Focus event unpacks what needs to be considered if Australia is to build closer ties to ASEAN and its member states.

When: Thursday 4 August 2022
Where: Online via Zoom

With a new government, Australia’s relationship with Southeast Asia looks set to take on renewed diplomatic interest. Over the past few years, the region has been viewed as a theatre of great power competition, where China and the United States are engaged in a battle for hearts and minds. But this approach to the region, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) specifically, overlooks its political, economic, security, and socio-cultural importance to Australia—an importance that will continue regardless of the outcome of these power struggles.

In this panel, we take a deeper look at what needs to be considered if Australia is to build closer and more conducive ties to ASEAN and to its member nations. Considering, but also moving beyond, “battlefield” narratives and looking at the vast potential that a closer relationship might offer both sides, we ask: What does Australia need to know about ASEAN—its internal dynamics, ongoing and emerging challenges, and future aspirations—to really capitalise on this potential and take our relationship with the region to a new level? And what are the risks if Australia doesn’t take meaningful steps to better understand and engage with our close neighbours?

This event was co-hosted in partnership with the ASEAN-Australia Strategic Youth Partnership (AASYP).


About the speakers

Tamerlaine Beasley is a member of the Board of the Australia-ASEAN Council for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and founder and Managing Director of Beasley Intercultural, Australia’s premier cross-cultural training and consultancy company. Tamerlaine leads a team of consultants working across Australia and the Asia-Pacific region for multinational corporate clients, international NGOs, and Federal and State Governments. Tamerlaine speaks Thai and has studied Lao and Bahasa Indonesia. She has studied Asian Studies at the ANU, International Business at Penn State University and Thai at Chulalongkorn in Thailand. She lectures at Australia’s leading Universities with a focus on global and cross-cultural leadership and communication. Tamerlaine is also a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Professor Michele Ford is Director of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre. Her research focuses on Southeast Asian labour movements, the intersection between national and international trade unions, labour migration, and labour’s engagement in the political sphere. Michele’s work has been supported by a number of Australian Research Council (ARC) grants related to these and other topics. She currently leads an ARC Discovery Project on Myanmar’s garment industry and an ARC Linkage Project on trade union responses to gender-based violence in Cambodia’s construction industry. In addition, she has been involved in extensive consultancy work for the ILO, the international labour movement and the Australian government.

Dr Huong Le Thu is Principal Policy Fellow at the Perth USAsia Centre. She has over 15 years of experience working in academia and think tanks across the Indo-Pacific: in Taiwan (National Chengchi University), Singapore (ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute), and Australia (ANU and ASPI). She has held short-term visiting fellowships in the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, the ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta, and the Korean Military Advisory Group, Seoul. Huong is an influential policy analyst and a recipient of numerous awards and grants. She is a recognised expert on Southeast Asia, including on regional alignment politics, perceptions of great-power competition, and ASEAN. Huong is also a non-resident fellow at CSIS, Southeast Asia Program and a member of the Advisory Board of the Griffith Asia Institute. She holds a PhD from National Chengchi University and an MA in International Studies from Jagiellonian University in Poland. She speaks five languages and has published in four of them.

Josephine currently sits as the Co-CEO of the ASEAN-Australia Strategic Youth Partnership and is based in Jakarta, Indonesia. She is concurrently the Chief Strategy Officer and a founding member of LingoTalk, an EdTech startup focusing on efficient language learning for primary schools. Prior to this, Josephine was a consultant with a demonstrated history of working in the government relations and public affairs sector. In her role, she was trusted to advise government institutions, fortune 500 corporations, and industry associations to navigate the complicated political constellation in the ASEAN region. She has a law degree from the University of Indonesia.

Richard Maude is Executive Director of Policy at Asia Society Australia and a Senior Fellow at the Asia Society Policy Institute. He is a former senior Australian government official with 30 years’ experience in foreign policy and national security. From 2018 to 2019, Richard was Deputy Secretary, Indo-Pacific Group, in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Australia’s senior official to the East Asia Summit. In 2017, he was head of the whole-of-government taskforce which supported the preparation of the Australian Government’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper. Prior to that, Richard was the senior adviser on foreign policy and national security issues to Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has served overseas in Malaysia, where he was Deputy High Commissioner, Singapore and Washington DC.

Susannah Patton is Director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Lowy Institute and the Project Lead for the Asia Power Index. Before joining the Lowy Institute, Susannah was a Research Fellow in the Foreign Policy and Defence Program at the United States Studies Centre. She previously worked in various Southeast Asia-focused positions in the Australian government, including as a Senior Analyst in the Southeast Asia Branch at the Office of National Intelligence, in the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit Taskforce in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and as a diplomat in the Australian Embassy in Bangkok.