AfREC and Community Partners meet with Australian High Commissioner-designate to Mauritius

On 9 July 2020, AfREC members and community partners met for pre-posting consultations with the Australian High Commissioner-designate to Mauritius, Dr Kate O’Shaughnessy, at the University of Western Australia, Perth. The post in Port Louis is also accredited to Comoros, Seychelles and Madagascar.

AfREC participants included Dr David Mickler (Director), Dr Dominic Dagbanja (Associate Director, Community Engagement), Prof. Mark Jessell (Associate Director, Industry Engagement), Dr Muhammad Dan Suleiman (Community Coordinator) and Fellows Prof. Erika Techera (also the Australian National Focal Point on the Indian Ocean Rim Academic Group, IORAG), Prof. Wallace Cowling (representing the Institute of Agriculture) and A/Prof. Farida Fozdar (Coordinator, UWA Migration, Mobilities and Belongings Research Cluster). Ms Amèlia Allaghan, a UWA student from Mauritius, also attended and represented the UWA African Students’ Union.

In line with AfREC’s community engagement practice when convening meetings with Australian Heads of Mission posted in Africa, AfREC was delighted to be joined in the meeting by Mr Ramen Poonen, President, Perth Mauritian Cultural Association, and Dr Francis Fornah, representing the Organisation of African Communities in Western Australia.

AfREC was particularly pleased at the appointment of Dr O’Shaughnessy due to her being an alumna of the University of Western Australia. She had also recently served as the Deputy Director of the WA State Office of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The roundtable meeting canvassed a range of issues important to Mauritius, Africa, the Indian Ocean and Mauritius-Australia relations, including blue economy, agriculture, research and education collaboration, and engaging and supporting the Mauritian diaspora in Australia, particularly in the context of the challenges posed by COVID-19.

It was noted that UWA has an MoU with the University of Mauritius and that both are members of the Australia Africa Universities Network (AAUN). The University of Mauritius hosted the annual AAUN Africa Forum for the first time in 2019 while UWA has hosted the AAUN Australia Forum annually since 2016. UWA also convenes a collaborative Master’s short course on International Relations in the Indian Ocean Region which includes staff and students from the University of Mauritius.

AfREC members Dr Mickler and Prof. Techera met with outgoing Australian High Commissioner Jenny Dee at the High Commission in Port Louis and separately with the leadership of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) in July 2019. AfREC had earlier participated in a consultation meeting with High Commissioner Dee at UWA in April 2019.