Shaping the Future - An Uncommon History of Asialink 1989 - 2017

Asialink’s continuing focus is building knowledge and networks for deeper Australia-Asia engagement. This work is buoyed by the longstanding support of our founding partners and boards, and the many others who give of their time and financial resources so generously. Since 1989, Asialink has done uncommon things, it’s time to tell that story with gratitude and joy...



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Asialink was established in 1989 as a joint initiative of the Australian Government’s Commission for the Future and The Myer Foundation, one of Australia’s oldest and at the time largest philanthropic foundations. For nearly 30 years Asialink has continued to evolve in response to changing Australian and global contexts. Even after three decades a sense of urgency prevails for Asialink’s staff and supporters. Perhaps now more than ever, Australia’s security and prosperity depends on a population comfortable with its geography and sufficiently knowledgeable and skilled to engage effectively with Asian peoples and cultures. Asialink’s mission and point of difference has always been to create an Asia literate Australian community and to help build and maintain Australia’s role and influence in the Asian region. Asialink has prioritised working with, listening to and learning from our Asian counterparts. The voices of Asian colleagues and Australian collaborators provide the bedrock for all our programs in Business, Education, The Arts, Health, Applied Analysis and Track 2 Diplomacy. To bring about the large-scale change required, Asialink provides advocacy, leading edge projects, training and development programs, research and thought leadership for policy makers.

Asialink’s history spans close to three decades. Over that time Australia, and Australia’s relationships with Asia, have changed dramatically in many ways – and endured, sometimes obstinately, in others.

Timeline (1989-1998)

  • 1989
    • Myer Family proposed a focus on Australia’s engagement with Asia to The Commission for the Future
    • Garnaut Report on Australia and the North East Asia Ascendency
    • Asialink established as a joint initiative of the Australian Government’s Commission for the Future and The Myer Foundation
  • 1990
    • Ken Myer AC DSC appointed Chairman of Asialink and Jenny McGregor AM appointed CEO
  • 1991
    • Asialink became a Centre of The University of Melbourne under an agreement between The Myer Foundation and the University
    • Advance Yourself: Advance Australia. Asialink’s first schools program launched
    • Launch of Asialink Corporate and Public Programs
    • Asialink Arts commenced
    • Asialink Sponsorship Program commenced
  • 1992
    • Carrillo Gantner AO appointed Chairman of Asialink
    • Establishment of Asia Education Foundation
    • Keidanren Roundtable: Japanese Australian roundtable on corporate giving
  • 1993
    • Arts Exhibitions Touring Program launched
    • Death of Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop
    • Establishment of Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop Awards
    • National Policy Statement on Studies of Asia in Australian Schools endorsed by states
    • Asialink Lecture Series launched
    • First Korean Studies Workshop Program for Australian teachers held in Seoul
    • Ticket to Asia primary curriculum materials produced with Macmillan Publishers
    • AEF In-country Study Programs to Asia commenced
  • 1994
    • Creative Nation: First Australian government cultural policy released
    • Asialink Circle launched by Premier Jeff Kennett AC
    • Eyes on ASEAN exhibition with Marina Mahathir toured Australia and South-East Asia
  • 1995
    • Access Asia series of school curriculum resources launched
    • The National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Strategy (NALSAS) commenced
    • Prime Minister Howard delivered Fifth Asialink Lecture
  • 1996
    • Australia-Asia Perceptions Project of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia
    • Asialink Leaders Program commenced
    • 600 Access Asia Schools joined up nation wide
    • 1996 –1999 saw fractured relationships with the region: Pauline Hanson, Australia as “US Deputy Sheriff” and East Timor conflict
    • Arts Management Residencies established
  • 1997
    • Inaugural AEF offshore conference Linking Latitudes: Indonesia attracted 300 teachers
  • 1998
    • First Mobilising Asia Skills Conference  Access Asia website launched for schools

Purchase your copy now

Interested in owning the book? Copies of Asialink: Shaping the Future. An Uncommon History are now available to purchase for $70 from the Sidney Myer Asia Centre in Melbourne. Please contact +61 3 8344 4800. Postage is also available on request.

Timeline (1999-2008)

  • 1999
    • Asia skills training for business began. 1000 people trained in first year
    • Inaugural Asialink Arts National Forum
    • Asia EdNet virtual network for teachers went live
  • 2000
    • Medialink launched
  • 2001
    • Move to Sidney Myer Asia Centre
    • Inaugural Asialink National Forum, Australia’s Future: Asia?
    • Linking Latitudes China
    • Foundations of Gold Travelling Exhibition
  • 2002
    • Launch of Asialink Diplomacy: first Asialink Conversations, Lindenderry, Victoria
  • 2003
    • Melbourne Asia Policy Papers launched with Melbourne Asia Institute
    • Inaugural AEF National Forum: Engaging Young Australians with Asia
  • 2004
    • Asia Australia Mental Health launched in Hong Kong
    • Second Asialink National Forum: Australia’s Engagement with Asia – A New Paradigm?
  • 2005
    • Sid Myer AM appointed Chairman of Asialink
    • Doris Pilkington Garimara launched Rabbit Proof Fence at Beijing International Book Fair
    • Indonesia-Australia Arts Management Program established 100
    • China’s Ministry of Health appointed AAMH as Foreign Advisers to China’s new mental health program
    • 12,000 people attended Asialink events at the Sidney Myer Asia Centre
  • 2006
    • Ground-breaking Australia-Japan Arts Leadership Meeting
    • Confucius Institute established at The University of Melbourne
    • A Night of Stories with Vikram Seth
    • Asialink Conversations: Vietnam
  • 2007
    • AAMH Training Program commenced in Beijing, Hong Kong and Melbourne
    • Leading 21st Century Schools Program for School Principals commenced
    • APEC 2020: An Asialink Conversation for Leaders. Keynote by Indonesian President
      Susilo Bambang Yudyono
  • 2008
    • First Asialink Index released Australia – Indonesia BRIDGE School Partnerships Program launched
    • The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians called for Asia literacy for all Australians


Front page banner image: Anne Zahalka, Santa’s Kingdom, Fox Studios, Sydney, 2003 (from Natural Wonders) Type C photograph, 115 x 145 cm (Supernatural Artificial)