The Australian Government has today unveiled details of early initiatives for deeper engagement with Asia arising out of the White Paper on Australia in the Asian Century.
Covering education and business, the complementary policies will help lock young Australians and companies into the fastest-growing region on earth, and so widen the range of career and commercial opportunities.
The initiatives are the first of a series from the Asian Century plan to be announced over the next few months.
School Education Minister Peter Garrett today released the draft Australian curriculum for Chinese language studies for students from Foundation up to Year 10.
Chinese Mandarin will be one of the first two languages to be introduced under the Australian Curriculum. There will be three pathways for learning, depending on the background and language understanding of students.
The draft curriculum is open for community consultation until 12 April 2013, and implementation will start in 2014.
“The release of the draft curriculum is an important step towards achieving the objectives in the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper to help promote the learning of Asian languages and build Asia literacy capabilities in Australian students,” Mr Garrett said.
“The world is changing and if we want our children to be able to take advantage of the opportunities the Asian Century will bring, the capacity to understand and operate in Asian languages is a crucial skill for the global economy.”
Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans, also today announced that a draft bill for consultation would be released early next year to increase the amount the Government will lend to students travelling to Asia for study.
Through the AsiaBound program, more than 10,000 students will have access to grants enabling them to take up study in Asia.
“Thousands more will have access to more generous and flexible student loan arrangements, as well as a new $1,000 loan to study an Asian language,” Senator Evans said.
The Government will work with Universities Australia to establish the AsiaBound guidelines, based on best practice already used by universities across Australia. The Universities Australia working group will also be responsible for creating a three-year promotional campaign to inform students about the tremendous opportunities and benefits of studying in Asia.
Finally, Trade Minister Craig Emerson today released draft guidelines for the $6 million Asian Century Business Engagement Plan for public consultation.
From 1 July next year, grants will be awarded to member-based business organisations to help them fund promotional events, trade missions and other export-focused activities to better harness commercial opportunities in Asia.
The draft guidelines propose grants of between $25,000 and $300,000 be awarded on merit after a competitive application process.
Dr Emerson, who is also assisting the Prime Minister on Asian Century Policy, invited comment from businesses on the guidelines.
“Governments can set policy and look after diplomatic relations,” Dr Emerson said, “but ultimately it’s up to business to develop the commercial bonds which drive trade and provide jobs.”
“We are calling on the business community for their views on how this scheme could be best run.”
Austrade, the Australian Trade Commission, will administer the Business Engagement Plan, and further support businesses through its extensive network of overseas offices, which is being expanded in Asia.
The closing date for comments is 5pm Eastern Time on 31 January 2013.
- Minister Emerson's Office: (02) 6277 7420
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555