Australia-Malaysia cultural exchange

Media release

4 November 2012

Foreign Minister Bob Carr today announced a joint Australia-Malaysia cultural exchange program for young Australians and Malaysians to travel to each other's countries and develop a stronger understanding of other cultures and faiths.

Senator Carr said the exchange program will be supported jointly by the Australian and Malaysian Governments as part of a regional campaign to promote better cultural understanding.

Senator Carr was speaking in Sabah after talks with Malaysian Foreign Minister Dato' Sri Anifah Aman.

"Under the exchange program, six young leaders from the Australian Muslim community will travel to Malaysia to meet with national and community groups.

Senator Carr said six young Malay community leaders will also travel to Australia for a similar exchange in Australian values and national culture.

"This program is based on a successful model Australia has run with Indonesia and Thailand.

"It's important to bring communities together to encourage an overlap of cultures.

"Programs such as this showcase Australian values in our region and encourage our own community leaders to gain a greater understanding of our neighbours", Senator Carr said.

Senator Carr said talks with Foreign Minister Anifah had also covered Australian-Malaysian relations in education, defence and trade, including the Free Trade Agreement (MAFTA) signed between the two countries in May 2012.

Senator Carr and Foreign Minister Anifah also discussed the Malaysia-Australia Arrangement on Transfer and Resettlement.

"Malaysia remains an important partner in combating people smuggling.

"In particular, Australia values Malaysia's willingness to embrace distinctive and innovative solutions to counter people smuggling that are of regional as well as bilateral significance.

"Malaysia is well placed to take a leading role in further regional endeavours to combat people smuggling", Senator Carr said.

Other matters discussed included:

Examples of other Australian programs which encourage interfaith and intercultural understanding include:

Senator Carr said he had also recently raised the importance of cultural exchange with political leaders in Jordan, Israel, Indonesia and Japan.

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