Griffith Bachelor of International Business graduate Richelle Turner looks forward to broadening and deepening government, community, business and people-to-people links as the first resident Australian Ambassador to Palau.

Richelle Turner, Griffith alumnus and the new resident Australian Ambassador to Palau

Her appointment follows roles with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), most recently as Director, Pacific Telecommunications Section and she has previously served overseas as First Secretary, Australian High Commission, Suva and First Secretary, Australian Embassy, Jakarta.

Ms Turner has arrived in Palau at a time of global uncertainty and says the challenges facing the region are substantial.

“Due to the geographical spread and population size of many Pacific countries, opportunities for broadening a strong economic base are difficult,” Ms Turner said.

“With a strong reliance on tourism, such as Australia, any global shocks such as coronavirus can be hard felt.”

“As the Minister for International and Development in the Pacific has noted, climate change (also) continues to pose one of the greatest threats to the development of the Pacific region, and we share the deep concerns of our Pacific partners about the entrenching impacts of climate change.

“Australia is working in partnership with Pacific countries to share experiences and expertise. We have a lot to learn from each other. “

Ms Turner says her interest in international affairs started with a summer exchange program to Japan in Year 11.

“I wanted to continue my language studies and work either in Japan or with a company that dealt with Japan and Griffith University offered this opportunity with a strong Asian studies school,” she said.

After two years of study and a gap year as a golf caddie in Japan, Ms Turner returned to finish her International Business degree, completed a summer semester course in Vietnamese and then travelled to Hanoi to finalise aGraduate Diploma in Vietnamese Language in 1998.

“Returning back in 1999 and while working in student administration, I finished my Masters (Marketing Management) with a scholarship from the Queensland Horticulture Institute,” Ms Turner explained.

“In 2000, I participated in the government graduate program with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in Canberra and eventually found myself in AusAID (now DFAT), working on development programs across the Indo – Pacific.”

Palau is an island archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean. The Australian Embassy in Palau opened on December 17, 2019 as part of Australia’s Pacific Step-Up.

Ms Turner also holds a Graduate Certificate in International and Community Development from Deakin University and says she values education and life-long learning.

“I’m continuing to learn and the opportunity to work in Palau will be part of this journey.”