Today I announce a second term for the New Colombo Plan Reference Group, in order to build on the remarkable achievements of the New Colombo Plan.

In its first four years, the New Colombo Plan has supported more than 17,500 Australian undergraduates from 40 Australian universities to live, study and intern in 35 locations in the Indo-Pacific region. It is a crucial element of the Government's long-term plan to build closer relations in our region and a fundamental pillar of our foreign policy engagement.

The New Colombo Plan Reference Group was established in 2014 to provide strategic advice on the implementation of the New Colombo Plan. In its second term, the group will focus on fostering the diversity of students participating in the New Colombo Plan, strengthening links to business, and maintaining the connection between the alumni community and the region.

I have appointed three new representatives to the group and reappointed 11 existing members, who will help to steer the program through its next phase:

  • Professor Steve Larkin, University of Newcastle Pro-Vice Chancellor for Indigenous Education and Research, is the group's first Indigenous representative. He will provide expert guidance to encourage diversity and Indigenous student participation in the program.
  • Mr Doug Ferguson is a New Colombo Plan Business Champion and KPMG Australia Partner in Charge for Asia and International Markets and Deals. He is a long-standing advocate of students undertaking regional placements, and will provide an important private-sector perspective.
  • Ms Emily Forsyth, New Colombo Plan Alumna and University of Tasmania graduate, will add a valuable voice on priorities for the New Colombo Plan alumni program as it becomes an increasingly influential community connected to the region.

I thank outgoing members, Ms Kate Carnell and Mr Tom Williams, for their service on the New Colombo Plan Reference Group since 2014.

Media enquiries

  • Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555