Welcome and Congratulations!

2021, like the year that preceded it, has brought on so many new and unprecedented events for the Australia-Japan Youth Dialogue (AJYD) - as it has for so many others. AJYD this year looks different; we have a bigger, more dispersed, more diverse team, and a Dialogue which seeks to deliver the same valuable outcomes as previous years, yet in an entirely virtual format.

We recognise that with new challenges come new opportunities. We took the time at the start of this year, in light of new leadership, to co-build a rejuvenated mission, vision and values which set a new focus on equity, diversity and the fostering of future leadership. We have sought to diversify our offering, opening the AJYD community up to different audiences, and connecting with professionals in non-traditional fields to build an innovative program rich with diverse perspectives, emerging trends and topics of discussion.

At the same time, we recognise that the foundational context which made the AJYD so crucial in filling a vacuum of emerging bilateral leadership is just as important today. Our countries are still the closest of allies, and the changing landscape around us means we are only getting closer. In a post COVID-19 world, as both countries navigate societal, political, economic and environmental challenges, there has never been a stronger need to build emerging leadership to steward the bilateral relationship into the future.

Congratulations to our wonderful delegates: 18 unique leaders representing all facets of the Australia-Japan relationship, and a truly 21st century representation of the diverse perspectives that also bring new voices to the table.

We want to call out the difficult and arduous path to get here. Our team spent countless days and nights combing through applications, applying our criteria for the ideal leaders we wanted to bring together, and painstakingly curated the exemplary people you’ll be working with over the next 4 weeks. We have assembled the best and the brightest from locations including, of course, Australia and Japan, but we also have representation from the US, and Guinea. From Hokkaido, to Bundaberg, Tokyo to Sydney, we have assembled a fantastic array representative of the city and the country - all with the purpose to create people-to-people connections and work together on a common goal of bilateral cooperation between two great countries.

Underlying that, we want to welcome you to our community - alongside the committee, current and past members, you are also part of the growing AJYD alumni network from our two previous Dialogues- 40 fantastic leaders that have been growing in experience, leadership and stature across not only Australia and Japan, but globally. This dialogue is just the beginning of your journey as leaders in the bilateral relationship, and going forward 10, 20, 30 years from now, we hope that the community we have built, that you are now part of, will be instrumental in catalysing change necessary to bring our two countries together.

This online handbook provides you with everything you will need to navigate the 2021 Dialogue - including the agenda, session overviews, and speaker and delegate biographies.

Finally, we would like to thank our hardworking team for putting this together, our generous sponsors and partners for their support, our excellent speakers and facilitators, and our growing community of AJYD alumni.

We wish you all the best for your AJYD 2021 journey!

Erin McCullagh and Matthias Muehlbauer
Australia-Japan Youth Dialogue