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Media release

4 April 2008

Diplomatic Appointment – Ambassador to Burma

I have confirmed the appointment of Ms Michelle Chan as Australia’s new Ambassador to Burma.  Ms Chan will succeed Mr Bob Davis who has been Ambassador since April 2005.  Ms Chan is expected to take up her appointment in June 2008.

The Government is deeply concerned about the political, economic and humanitarian situation in Burma, and has been active in efforts to promote genuine political reform and national reconciliation in that country.  Our Embassy in Rangoon maintains contact with all parties, including the National League for Democracy, about the importance of substantive and inclusive dialogue in achieving progress on reform.  The Embassy has a key role making assessments of developments on the ground in Burma, as well as advocating Australia’s views on political and human rights issues to the Burmese State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).

Australia has endorsed an active UN role in Burma, including strong support for the good offices mission being undertaken by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Burma, Ibrahim Gambari.  Australia is a participant in the UN Secretary‑General’s Group of Friends on Burma, which met for the first time in December 2007.

Australia also recognises pressing humanitarian need in Burma and provides assistance to the people of Burma through multilateral and non-government organisations.  Australian aid in Burma is delivered at the community level and targets vulnerable populations, especially women and children and ethnic minorities.  Key programs deal with basic health, giving people livelihoods, and protection.  The Embassy also provides consular services to Australian travellers.

Ms Chan was most recently Assistant Secretary, South-East Asia (South) and Regional Issues Branch (2006‑07).  Earlier roles in Canberra include Director of the East Timor Section and other positions in the South-East Asia Division and the International Organisations and Legal Division.  She has served overseas as Counsellor, later Minister-counsellor in Jakarta (2002‑05), Second Secretary in Hanoi (1998) and Second Secretary in Phnom Penh (1996‑98).

Ms Chan holds a Bachelor of Arts (Jurisprudence) and Bachelor of Laws from the University of Adelaide, and a Master of Arts and Master of Laws (International Law) from the Australian National University.  Ms Chan is married with two children.

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