Release type: Speech


Western Sydney University soft launch ceremony


The Hon Jason Clare MP
Minister for Education


Acknowledgements omitted 

There is an old Indonesian saying: Tak kenal tak sayang – you can’t love someone if you know don’t know them.  

The people of our two countries have known each other for a long time.  

If you go to North East Arnhem land in the Northern Territory you can still hear it. You can hear it in the words of the Yolngu people.  

Words that would be familiar to many here today. Familiar because they come from here.  

Words picked up from fishermen from South Sulawesi, who first came to Australia in the 1700s for sea cucumbers. 

The story of that relationship passed down through dance and song. 

Just 15 days after being elected, Prime Minister Albanese wrote a new chapter in that story by visiting South Sulawesi as part of his very first bilateral visit. 

He chose to come to Indonesia because building ties between our two great countries has never been more important. 

Since then he’s been back. He’s been to Indonesia three times in the last 18 months. 

And President Widodo has come to Australia, visiting my hometown of Sydney in July.  

And a big part of that visit was what we’re talking about today. That’s education.  

The people in this room are a part of that.  

Education doesn’t just change lives. It changes nations. We know that because that’s Australia’s story.  

When I was little boy barely 35 per cent of children finished high school. Now it’s about 80 per cent. 

Back then only 7.9 per cent of young Australian adults had a university degree. Now it’s almost half. 

All of that has happened in my lifetime. And it has made us a different country. 

Stronger, smarter, wealthier. 

Different jobs, different industries and a different economy. 

Truth be told though, this is a story only half told. This change is still happening. 

That change is happening here too.  

I could see it today in the eyes of the students at the high school, and in the Australian university alumni I met this morning.  

They can see the future. They are part of it. They are making it real.  

And I can see it Minister, in the audacious targets that Indonesia has set for itself – 57 million more skilled workers by the end of the decade. 

I talked a moment ago about the Australia that existed when I was a boy. 

Back then there was no Western Sydney University. It was established the year I finished high school.  

Today, where I come from, I can’t imagine life without it.  

45,000 students, 15 campuses, teaching everything from medicine to engineering. Nursing to law. IT to urban planning. 

It has become an indispensable part of Western Sydney. And a big part of the reason for that, in the last few years, is the leadership of this man, Barney Glover.  

And I am not just saying that because he built a new 18 storey campus next to my office.  

This is a university that cares about fairness and access, that thinks imaginatively and that looks outwards. 

And this new campus here in Surabaya is a great example of that. 

Taking what you do in my backyard, next door.  

Working together – like neighbours should. Like friends do. 

Australia is good at international education. And it is good to us. It is not like any other export.  

When you come to Australia to study a little bit of Australia rubs off on you. We hope that you get to know us, that you fall in love with our country, and that when you come home you take that love and affection home with you.  

But international education is not a one way street.  

Not everyone can afford to come to Australia to study. But Australian universities can come to you.  

That is what Monash University has done in Jakarta. That is what Western Sydney University is doing here.  

I know Minister this is part of your vision. I know from the discussions I had with President Widodo in Sydney that this is something he wants to see happen too.  

And I am so glad to see universities like Monash and Western Sydney, and others like Deakin and Central Queensland, take up the challenge. Take up this opportunity.  

Today is a day to focus on this campus and what it will mean when it opens next year.  

When it opens it will offer courses in business and applied finance; computer science and ICT; data science and engineering.  

It does more than that thought.

What it will really do is help two neighbours come closer together.  

It will make new friends.  

It will share new words and new stories just like the people of South Sulawesi and North East Arnhem land did all those centuries ago.  

And it will help build new skills for a new century.  

That’s what education does.  

That’s what this is all about.  

That’s what good neighbours do.  

That's what good friends do.