On 11 March 2020, AfREC Fellows participated in the ‘East-West African Australian Communities Forum’ at the University of Melbourne. The Forum represented the continuation of annual engagement between UWA AfREC, the University of Melbourne and the Melbourne-based African Think Tank aiming to build ‘Pan-Australian, Pan-African’ partnerships between universities, governments and African community organisations across Australia. Participants agreed that bringing together in ongoing ways the engagement work that is being done on the East and West coasts of Australia is necessary for enhancing national visibility and impact.
Previous events in this context have included (i) the African Think Tank’s Forum on African Australian Communities: Challenges and Opportunities (Melbourne, March 2018), (ii) the African Think Tank’s conference African Australian Settlement and Integration 2030 (Melbourne, November 2018) and (iii) AfREC’s National African-Australian Diaspora Engagement Conference (NAADEC) (Perth, August 2019). The aim is for NAADEC to become an annual conference and platform in Australia for advancing these objectives.
The recent Melbourne Forum also served as the official launch of the Blue Nile African-Australian Business Education Program, an exciting new initiative of the University of Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne Social Equity Institute and the African Think Tank. It add to existing leadership programs such as the African Think Tank’s African Leadership Development Program (ALDP) in Victoria and AfREC-OACWA’s African Women’s Leadership, Empowerment & Development (A-LEAD) Program in Western Australia.
AfREC was represented at the Forum by Director Dr David Mickler, Community Coordinator Dr Dominic Dagbanja (also representing the Organisation of African Communities in WA as Research Director), and AfREC Postgraduate Fellow Seth Appiah-Mensah. Other speakers included African Think Tank Chairperson Mr Haileluel Gebre-selassie OAM, former Premier of Victoria Mr Ted Baillieu, Chair of the Australia Africa Chamber of Commerce Mr Duncan Harris, Head of the University of Melbourne’s School of Social and Political Sciences, Prof. Karen Farquarson, Blue Nile Coordinator A/Prof. Ben Neville, Pan-African Australasian Diaspora Network member A/Prof. Chika Anyanwu, and other ATT Board Members.