On 19 December 2019, AfREC Director Dr David Mickler, Research Fellow Dr Muhammad Dan Suleiman and Advisory Board Member Ms Trish O’Reilly met with Australian Minister for Defence and WA Senator the Hon. Linda Reynolds CSC in Perth.
The meeting provided an opportunity to update the Minister on the work of AfREC since the Centre was launched at UWA in August 2018. Senator Reynolds had attended AfREC’s launch as part of the Australia Africa Universities Network (AAUN) Annual Australia Forum 2018. In her address to the AAUN Forum 2018, Senator Reynolds spoke of opportunities for Australian industry across Africa and the priorities for education and development in meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The AfREC Director outlined how AfREC is a research and engagement centre: it combines high quality and collaborative research, teaching and training, and engagement on Africa-relevant issues with government (State and Commonwealth), industry, African communities in Australia, and the interested public. AfREC delivers a number of flagship programs and events, including:
Hosting regular roundtables in Perth with DFAT Africa Branch, Australian HoMs in Africa and African HoMs in Australia, and engaging posts when in country;
Hosting the AAUN Annual Forum & AGM each year (since 2016) as part of national Australia Africa Week (AAW) in Perth;
Co-delivering the WA African Women’s Leadership, Empowerment & Development (A-LEAD) program in partnership with the Organisation of African Communities in WA;
Sponsoring the annual WA African Women in Leadership Award as part of the WA African Community Awards (WAACA);
Convening the annual AfREC Africa Research Showcase;
Convening the annual AfREC Samuel M. Makinda Africa Day Public Lecture;
Co-convening the African Students in WA (ASIWA) University Working Group;
Convening the National African-Australian Diaspora Engagement Conference (NAADEC) 2019.
The meeting also provided an opportunity for AfREC to discuss with the Minister new ideas for collaborative research and engagement projects linking Australia and Africa. The Minister was presented with some of the recent publications by AfREC Fellows.
Senator Reynolds was also Deputy Chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee which undertook the Inquiry into Australia’s trade and investment relationships with the countries of Africa (2018). In its Inquiry Report, the Committee’s Recommendation 11 was “that the Australian Government, in consultation with a range of stakeholders, explore options for improving Africa literacy, awareness, engagement, access to information and research.” In its February 2019 response to Recommendation 11, the Commonwealth Government acknowledged the important role for AfREC in building greater knowledge about Africa within Australia.