Remarks at BRIDGE Program ten-year anniversary

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JULIE BISHOP: I'm absolutely delighted to be here at SMAMuhammadiyah 2 on this beautiful East Javanese day.

My congratulations to the students for their wonderful traditionaldance performance and also the talented musicians who played the Australiananthem particularly well. Congratulations on your wonderful performance today.

Educational exchanges and partnerships and investment in educationis a pillar of the Australia-Indonesia relationship and together we are workingto improve the lives of young people in Indonesia and in Australia.

The BRIDGE Program is a remarkable example of the collaborationand cooperation between Australia and Indonesia. BRIDGE works as a noun butit's also an acronym – Building Relationships through Intercultural Dialogueand Growing Engagement.

Today we celebrate 10 years of the BRIDGE Program that has builtconnections between students and teachers and school communities in Indonesiaand in Australia, and the BRIDGE Program began in this school and with LorneCollege in Victoria ten years ago.

One of the exciting aspects of the BRIDGE Program is that thestudents and teachers do travel to each other's location and earlier inFebruary the students here from Muhammadiyah actually travelled to Victoria andspent time at Lorne College and I understand the students performed thetraditional dance we saw today.

Today there are 180 BRIDGE partnerships between Australia andIndonesia, from 18 Indonesian provinces covering every state and territory inAustralia.

The Australian-Indonesian BRIDGE Program has inspired otherpartnerships across our region and we now have 13 Asian nations and soon sevenPacific nations as part of the BRIDGE Program.

Our commitment to better education outcomes goes beyond secondaryschool. We have a program called the Australia Awards and, over the period from2012 to 2017, 6000 Indonesian students at Masters level, and above havereceived an award to study in Australia.

Over a similar period, between 2014 to the end of 2019, almost7000 Australian undergraduates from our universities will have lived andstudied and undertaken an internship in Indonesia under the AustralianGovernment's New Colombo Plan.

Australia has also partnered with the Indonesian Government inbuilding schools and over the past decade we have helped build about 3000schools across Indonesia, which has helped almost half a million students withnew physical surroundings.

Under our Education Programs we have also assisted in improvingthe infrastructure in 1500 Islamic schools and we have worked in partnership todevelop teacher capacity and skills training.

So while we celebrate the tenth anniversary of the BRIDGE Program,we also take this opportunity to celebrate the enduring partnership betweenAustralia and Indonesia in education. Long may our friendship endure asreliable partners and as trusted friends, and thank you for your warm welcome today.

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