Griffith University student Joshua Saunders and alumna Elise Giles will join 38 other delegates from the ASEAN region for a Young Leaders Forum in Jakarta later this month.

The ASEAN-Australia Young Leaders Forum (AAYLF) is a four-day workshop in which delegates will develop a deeper knowledge of the ASEAN-Australia relationship, foster stronger intercultural leadership skills, build a regional network of like-minded young people and design and implement projects to improve ASEAN-Australia relations.

Joshua Saunders, second year student

Joshua, currently in his second year of a dual Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Government and International Relations degree, found his love for South-East Asia during a two-year stint volunteering in Thailand and Myanmar.

Joshua Saunders

“The most memorable part was the amazing people there, which helped me develop a passion for the region and decide to add International Relations to my upcoming degree in Laws,” Joshua said.

“It has inspired me to try and return to the region to continue to help in any way I can to improving the lives of the people that live there.

“I’m hoping to gain a greater understanding of the issues that face ASEAN and how I can personally set myself on a career path to help address these.”

He will travel to Indonesia for AAYLF, which starts on November 29, and hopes to learn more about how Australia can continue to contribute to the development of the South-East Asian region.

“The ASEAN Youth Leaders Forum is evidence that Australia is starting to…realise the significance of maintaining a strategic partnership with the region,” Joshua said.

“One of the ways Australia can strengthen its relationship with ASEAN is to continue to increase our bilateral trade.

“I hope to be able to contribute to this discussion at the Forum, with one of the main topics centred on digital economy integration.”

Elise Giles, alumna

Bachelor of Business alumna Elise, also a Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Endeavour Award recipient, is looking to form long-term relationships with delegates at the forum.

Elise Giles.

“I’m incredibly passionate about engaging with other ASEAN-Australia young leaders on issues of great importance to the region and subsequently contribute to shaping local, national and regional agendas,” Elise said.

“Youth forums are powerful platforms that provide young leaders with the opportunity to think deeply about our roles and responsibilities.”

She hopes to use the forum to highlight the importance of seeking gender equality.

“I want to emphasise the urgency of achieving gender equality and seek commitments from other young leaders across the region to drive this agenda forward and collectively contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 5 – Gender Equality by 2030.”

Delegates include a mix of students, artists, young professionals and entrepreneurs from across all 10 ASEAN nations and Australia.