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Reception for delegates attending the 30th anniversary meeting of the Association of Asian Social Science Research Councils: address by His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery AC CVO MC (Retd): Government House: Thursday, 13 November 2003.



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SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY

MAJOR GENERAL MICHAEL JEFFERY AC CVO MC (Retd) GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA AT A RECEPTION FOR DELEGATES ATTENDING THE 30TH

ANNIVERSARY MEETING OF THE ASSOCIATION OF ASIAN SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH COUNCILS GOVERNMENT HOUSE THURSDAY, 13 NOVEMBER 2003

Professor Fay Gale AO, President of the Association of Asian Social Science Research Councils (AASSRC) Professor Nguyen Duy Quy, Chairman of Vietnam’s National Centre for Social Sciences and Humanities Dr Virginia Miralao, Secretary-General of AASSRC Dr John Beaton, Executive Director of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia Other delegates to this week’s meeting Ladies and gentlemen

Good afternoon to you all, and welcome to Government House.

I’m very pleased to be hosting such a distinguished gathering of social scientists, at such an auspicious moment in the history of the Association of Asian Social Science Research Councils.

For the 30th anniversary meeting, we’re especially honoured to have with us Dr Yogesh Atal - the founder and first President of the Association.

Under the auspices of UNESCO, Dr Atal established the Association in 1973 in order to examine - and foster better cooperative research into - social issues across Asia.

In line with this aim, the group facilitates exchanges of scholars between research institutions and promotes opportunities for young social scientists.

These activities allow scholars to deepen their understanding of issues through on-the-ground research, and they provide opportunities to gain a broader, regional perspective on prevailing social trends.

The Association has tackled a wide range of topics in recent years - particularly globalisation - and has overseen the regular exchange of many hundreds of scholars within the region since the 1970s.

Indeed, there were 50 academic exchanges within the Association this year alone.

I understand the theme of this week’s meeting is “Youth In Transition”, and that you’ve had several days of productive discussion about the impact of rapid change, including the fragmentation of values in many communities.

Addressing typical, day-to-day problems for youth in Asia - such as poor education, the drift of young people from the country to the city, poverty, homelessness and unemployment - is an urgent task.

We know that youth have had to contend, for example, with the impact of ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka and increased educational and vocational competition in Japan, and that child prostitution in Thailand has increased rapidly, partly as a result of that

country’s economic crisis in the late 1990s.

I look forward to hearing more about your work on these sorts of topics and - ultimately - the practical policy recommendations arising from this week’s meeting.

I’m especially encouraged to hear that young people themselves played a major role in your meeting earlier in the week.

Individually and collectively, the very diverse 16 member nations of the Association have experienced great change over the past 30 years, including some instances of upheaval.

Despite this, your group - through its meetings to consider a new topic in a different country every two years - has ensured the connections within Asia’s social science community have remained strong and effective.

Of course, no one country has all the answers to complex social problems.

No one country - including Australia - has health, welfare and education systems, for example, that cannot benefit from exposure to other ways of thinking and doing things.

So it’s essential we continue to share ideas, experiences, information and policy proposals - in other words, to keep the lines of communication open.

This is especially important in regard to the promotion of education.

Because equipping successive generations of children with the basics of literacy and numeracy, for example, is fundamental to the prosperity of all nations, at all times.

Ladies and gentlemen.

The Association is a vital non-government forum for constructive research, informed debate and the formulation of practical solutions.

I’m confident it will remain relevant and that the bonds you’ve established among the various national research councils will be continually renewed.

I trust you’ll have a fruitful wrap-up session tomorrow and, from that, each of you will take at least one good idea back home.

Most of all, I hope the Association’s fourth decade will see it step up to an even higher level of cooperation and - in so doing - honour the pioneering work of Dr Yogesh Atal.

Good luck to you all, and keep up the good work.

Thank you.