Speech of the Australian High Commissioner to Ghana
Alumni Function 17 June 2014, High Commissioner's Residence
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Ladies and Gentlemen,
Tonight is a night of celebration, and a highlight of my time as High Commissioner here in Accra. We are celebrating the success of the Australian Awards scholarship program in Ghana, and the contribution that Australian alumni have made to Ghana’s development. There is also another reason to celebrate which I will mention later a bit later on.
The Australian Awards program is Australia’s prestigious international scholarships program. It targets committed people who will return home and contribute to development in their home countries.
The Australian Awards program has been operating in Ghana since 2010. So far, more than 180 Ghanaians have studied in Australia under the program. Currently we have 39 Ghanaians studying in Australia at post-graduate level. The Awards also offer short term professional development training to the public and private sectors as well as to civil society.
Tonight we are welcoming home some 30 Ghanaians from their Awards studies. (ACKNOWLEDGE). Welcome all of you! We look forward to hearing about your experiences. Given the world class standard of many Australian universities, and their experience in hosting international students, we hope you have some good stories to tell.
We are keen to keep in touch with everyone who has studied in Australia, both through the Awards program, and outside of it. We know that there are some Ghanaians who received Australian scholarships offered some time ago, or have self-funded their study. We have done our best to find some of these people, and I am pleased that quite a few are present tonight. We extend a big welcome to you also.
The Australian Government is very pleased with the success of the Awards Scholarship program in Ghana. It is an investment in the development of Ghanaian leaders, and thus an investment in the future of Ghana itself.
Not only are Awards alumni doing their part to strengthen institutions in Ghana, they are - like other Australian alumni here - maintaining valuable links at the personal level and building on the warm relationship that has developed between our two countries over many years.
Which brings me to the second reason for celebration. As some of you know, this month marks the tenth anniversary of the reopening of our High Commission here in Accra. We had first opened a High Commission here in 1957, shortly after Ghana’s Independence. We closed in 1985, during Ghana’s difficult years, and conducted our business from our High Commission in Lagos before reopening here again. So we have been friends for a very long time, and our relationship continues to broaden and deepen as the years go by. The links built through our alumni are a big part of this.
Getting back to the Awards – I’d like to mention that the next round of applications for the Awards opens on 1 September. We recognise that women’s education and leadership is critical to longer term development. Women and those from disadvantaged groups such as the disabled are particularly encouraged to apply, and mechanisms are in place to support those requiring specific assistance.
And getting back to the alumni – tonight we are formally launching the Ghana Australia Alumni Association, following its registration as an organisation here in Ghana. We congratulate Ismael Browne and the other organisers for their work in establishing the Association.
I am also pleased that the Australian Government has been able to support the Association by providing funding for the development of its website.
Ghana’s Alumni Ambassador, Mr Ishmael Browne, will demonstrate the website to us very shortly.
Afterwards I encourage you to meet old friends and make some new ones. It’s a chance for Ghanaians to connect with Ghanaians as well as Australians. The connections we make at an event like this are part of the great value of being an Australian alumnus. We indeed have many things to share.
We also have the wonderful Army service Band here tonight for dancing later on.
Thank you very much for your attention. Please enjoy the evening.