Youth forum leads way

Forty up-and-coming movers and shakers from Southeast Asia and Australia will join forces in Jakarta later this year. As diverse as they are dynamic, the delegates attending the ASEAN-Australia Young Leaders Forum (AAYLF) are sure to have a few things in common.

Photo of Hayley Winchcombe and Conor McLaughlin standing at a booth advertising the ASEAN-Australia Strategic Youth Leaders project. Both holding flyers.
AASYP Chair Hayley Winchcombe and AASYP Perth Hub Project Officer Conor McLaughlin promoting the AAYLF at the Perth Asian Professionals Networking Evening in Perth. Credit: AASYP.

They are likely to share a desire to connect with each other as they forge strong intercultural links to improve the relationships between their home countries. Importantly, all of them are under the age of 30.

Hayley Winchcombe heads up the ASEAN-Australia Strategic Youth Partnership (AASYP), the organisation driving the AAYLF. She downplays her efforts in securing the grant that made the venture a reality. Instead, the woman who juggles a part-time job with her University of Western Australia honours thesis is quick to mention the many others involved in preparing for the inaugural event.

“From fellow New Colombo Plan alumni to young leaders from across Southeast Asia, our team of volunteers are putting in a huge amount of hours to transform this project into a reality,” she said.

She peppers her speech with references to the ongoing importance of reaching out, building connections and bridging divides. As she talks about the collaboration and cooperation at the heart of the four-day event, her enthusiasm is contagious.

“Our generation is in a good place to tackle transnational problems because of our access to digital infrastructure,” Hayley said.

“We couldn’t have done this before the internet.”

The AASYP founder applauds the fast-paced and forward-thinking mindset of her tech-savvy peers. “Anything is possible,” she explained, adding that she finds it exciting to be creating a close-knit community network of like-minded leaders.

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