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25,000th overseas trainee

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M83 '27 October 1977







The Minister for Foreign Affairs,.Mr Andrew Peacock, today announced that the 25,000th trainee sponsored by the Australian Government under the overseas aid program had arrived in Australia, , f ,

. To mark this milestone, Mr Peacock made a presentation to the trainee, Mr Sompong Hiranwat of Thailand,

Mr Sompong is a .senior fisheries biologist in Thailand's National Inland Fisheries Institute, He came to Australia earlier this month under the Colombo Plan to undertake an intensive course covering the principles and practices of Australian fishing and related industries.

In making the presentation, Mr Peacock pointed out that since the first trainees came to Australia - under the Colombo Plan in 1951 - the numbers being sponsored had grown from only a dozen or so a year up to the 3500

trainees who will be in Australia this year under a wide range of technical assistance special training programs,

Mr Peacock paid a special tribute to the assistance and cooperation of members of the Australian community who through various groups and associations had made an enormous contribution to the effectiveness of the program

in giving assistance and hospitality to the students coming to Australia, Mr Peacock said that without this community involvement the program would be far less effective in the important goal of building mutual understanding and goodwill.

Mr Peacock referred to the recent changes in Australia's development assistance program - which involved the further untying of aid, increased assistance . for local costs, multi-year commitments to recipient

countries, and participation with other countries and institutions in the co-financing projects. .

Mr Peacock said that, particularly with these changes and against the background of substantial community cooperation and effort, Australia's total effort deserved to be described as one of the best in the world.

Attachment A .

Background information on Australian Government sponsored trainees in Australia


The 25,000 trainees have come to Australia from 80 countries, mainly in Asia, the Pacific and Africa. About 17,000 have come from 20 countries under the Colombo Plan. The other 8,000 have been sponsored under such

schemes as the Australia Papua New Guinea Education and Training Scheme (APETS), the Special Commonwealth African Assistance Plan (SCAAP), the South Pacific/Aid Program ?(SPAP), the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP) and Australian International Awards

Scheme (AIAS).

Some of the countries (with the approximate total in brackets of trainees to come to Australia in the period 1951-77) are:

Indonesia (3000); Malaysia (3000); Papua New Guinea (3000); Thailand (1600); India (1600); Vietnam (1200); Singapore (1100); Philippines (1000); Sri Lanka (850); .Pakistan (800); . Burma (700); Republic of Korea (600); Nigeria

(500); Fiji (450); Laos (400); Tanzania. (330); Ghana (320); Western Samoa (280); Kenya (270); Afghanistan (270).

Attachment B


27 October 1977

Twenty-six years ago, in 1951, Australia welcomed its first trainee under the Colombo Plan. Since then, another 24,999 trainees have come to Australia under that Plan and other similar schemes through which Australia

extends the hand of friendship and assistance to every corner of the developing world. In 1976/77 Australia financed awards to trainees from 73 countries. And today, we celebrate the presence in Australia of the 25,000th trainee - Mr Sompong Hiranwat, from Thailand.

There are distinguished guests here today whose association with Australia's official training program encompasses the entire history of that program, from that first student intake in 1951 to the present. I record a particular tribute to Sir Percy Spender who was one of the inspiring:initiators of the Colombo Plan. I

should like to refer also to the Lady Casey, who was unable to be present but has sent us a message. They, together with the Lady Casey's distinguished husband, the late Lord Casey, are among the many Australians whose vision and

energy have contributed immeasurably., to the success this country's training program has achieved.

The accelerating pace at which sponsored trainees have arrived in Australia over the years reflects clearly the growing emphasis given by successive Australian Governments to this important part of its aid program.

It took twenty years from the inception of the program until we celebrated the arrival of the 10 ,000th, trainee under the Colombo Plan; today, only six years later, we have several schemes and we welcome the 25,000th.

As with the numbers, the nature of the training sponsored by Australia has not remained static since the program began. In the early days, as Sir Percy will no doubt recall, the vast majority of trainees came to Australia for formal education at undergraduate level,

and indeed not a few of the sponsored students received secondary schooling in Australia. A quarter of a century later, however, the needs of the countries which send trainees to Australia have changed, and their own ability to provide much of the training has improved. This is the essence of the exercise - to help them become more


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This year the Government reviewed the policies to apply to the training program - a review to ensure its continuing relevance and to apply the lessons learnt in the past 26 years.

This is not to say that there will not be different directions and emphases in the future. We consider it vital to keep pace with developments, to look critically at our assistance efforts and to adjust policies and practices to the realities and needs as they arise,

Mr Sompong1s case illustrates the present emphasis of the program. He is receiving training in Australia. He received his basic degree from a Thai university - and I should like to think that Australian efforts have

in their way contributed to the ability of countries like Thailand to satisfy most of their needs for under­ graduate training within their own borders. He is attending an international training course in fisheries practices -

a short, intensely practical course arranged exclusively for these trainees by the Australian Development Assistance Bureau with the co-operation of the Department of Primary Industry. Such short, practical courses reflect the Government1s determination to provide training carefully

tailored to meet the basic needs of developing countries, including their ability to produce food.

Furthermore, Thailand is a member of the Association of South East Asian Nations - ASEAN. The Australian Government believes strongly that its major commitment must be to countries in its own immediate neighbourhood -

in addition to Papua New Guinea, the ASEAN .countries and the island nations of the Pacific. While donors distant from therdeVfeloping.1 countries can feel moie remote from.those!they assist, Australia has an intimate relationship to its area and accepts a special responsibility to its neighbour

I wish to pay tribute to the interest;" and co-operation of the Australian people w h o , through international organisations, community groups, -cultural associations, overseas student councils and by their own personal contacts, have welcomed and assisted students and trainees who have

come to Australia on Australian Government scholarships and fellowships.

The training of so many students and trainees from developing countries also would not have been possible without full support and contribution of universities, technical and advanced education colleges and State and

Commonwealth Government departments and instrumentalities. Many sectors of Australian primary and secondary industry have also played a major part.

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As a nation, we can be rather proud of our aid effort - we still have a way to go to reach our goal of

sever per cent of GNP but, particularly with the changes made by the Government in the development assistance program in recent months, which involve the further untying of aid, increased allocations to multilateral agencies, increased

assistance for local costs, multi-year commitments to recipient countries, and participation with other countries and institutions, in the co-financing of projects.· we have put Australia in the front ranks of aid giving countries.

I am proud, not just of the government effort but also of the magnificent contribution made by voluntary agencies, community organisations and individuals. Taken in toto - community and government - I: think Australia's

effort deserves to be described as one of the best in the world. But that is no excuse for complacency and I can assure you all that we will continue to improve.

I am sure that it will long continue to be important for Australia to invite people to our country to train. For, side by side with the practical benefit which accrues to recipient countries from training available here goes the equally important mutual benefit of peoples

getting to know and understand each other. We in Australia can and do learn a lot about our neighbours by the presence of trainees like Mr Sompong and the other members of his course here today. We trust that Mr Sompong and his colleagues will return Home" not just with some technical gain but also with warm memories and a better understanding of Australia and its people.

In recognition of our receiving our 25,000th trainee, and as a gesture to him and his country - and not forgetting his absent wife - it gives me great pleasure to ask Mr Sompong to accept a few mementoes of this occasion and of Australia. I hope this'presentation

serves not only to remind him personally of the time he is spending with us but to symbolise the goodwill we feel towards all our neighbouring developing countries and their peoples.