Ambassador in the Hill
Tuesday, 17th September, 2019
By Callum Marshall
Diana Nelson, Australia’s Ambassador to Peru, has been in the city to talk to local organisations, as well as community and business groups, about developing connections with the South American country.
Ms Nelson’s visit last week was part of a regional travel program organised by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, a program which is conducted once every parliamentary term.
She said it had been absolutely fabulous visiting Broken Hill as a representative of the Australian Foreign Service.
“I’m part of a group of Ambassadors that’s fanned out all over Australia this week to go meet with local communities, to talk about what we do as part of the Australian Diplomatic Network.
“But also to hear from local communities about what some of the opportunities might be for some of them.
“I’ve had a great program here in Broken Hill, talking to local businesses about what some of the international connections that they might be able to make.
“But not only looking at potential commercial opportunities but also talking to the education sector, people who are working with Indigenous communities.
“One of the big focuses we’ve got in our overseas network is promoting Australia’s soft power.
“And we are very keen to share our Indigenous culture and our Indigenous experience.”
Ms Nelson said industries such as mining, agriculture and education would benefit from those strengthened international connections.
“We’ve got a free trade agreement between Peru and Australia that we have negotiated and signed, and we’re just waiting for it to be ratified by the parliament,” said Ms Nelson.
“That agreement provides opportunities for Australian suppliers of agricultural products, for example, to enter the market with preferential access.
“We’re talking about products such as sheep meat, kangaroo meat, beef.
“There are opportunities in the mining sector around mining technology and services and also there are very good opportunities in education.”
She said there were about 2000 Peruvian students in Australia and that she’d like to see more, particularly as the country was interested in building up its vocational education sector.
“They’ve got a shortage of about 200,000 skilled people and they want to learn from Australia and what we’re doing here,” said Ms Nelson.
“I’ve been out to visit the Broken Hill TAFE and also been talking to the education department here about some of the programs they’ve got here for Aboriginal people that could be of interest, and things we could share with Peru.”
A holiday visa program between Peru and Australia was another major talking point, she said.
“The other interesting program we’ve got, which I’ve been promoting here, is a working holiday visa program which allows Peruvians to come and spend a year travelling and working in Australia.
“It’s a reciprocal program which also enables Australians under 30 years of age to go and take a year out to travel and work in Peru.
“For me these types of programs are critical because the future of the relationship is going to depend on the links that we forge with the younger generations, whether it be students or young working holiday visa makers.
“Those types of connections are really important, and it’s visits such as this that give us as Ambassadors the opportunity to connect with local communities, businesses and organisations.”
And being in the city while the Broken Heel Festival was on, she said, provided a great opportunity to highlight Australia’s diverse culture overseas.
“It’s been such great luck to have my visit coincide with the Broken Heel Festival because, as an Ambassador, one of the critical Australian values I promote overseas is that we are a very inclusive nation and an inclusive culture.
“I think being able to come out to Far West New South Wales, to a mining town where we’ve got a fabulous drag festival which is bringing a lot of tourist dollars, money and development into the town, really does demonstrate what an inclusive country we are.