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DFAT Secretary speaks at Bruce Allen Lecture

Page last published: 25 Oct 2013

The 2013 Bruce Allen Memorial lecture, hosted by Macquarie University's Faculty of Arts and Soft Power Advocacy and Research Centre on Thursday 17 October, welcomed key speaker Mr Peter N Varghese AO from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, who spoke about the significance of 'soft power', and Australia's opportunities to advance the nation's public diplomacy.

Mr Varghese spoke of persuasion, attractiveness, and credibility, as key ingredients of soft power on an international stage. His insights included historical anecdotes from the lead up to World War Two, to America's soft power due to its advanced military, energy, and education sectors, and China's growing but tenuous soft power as a result of its overseas publicity work and its governance respectively.

According to Mr Varghese, Australia's opportunities lie in projecting to our neighbours a rounded image of contemporary Australia, which addresses out-dated views, including the White Australia Policy.

Australia's strengths in public diplomacy range from its wealth, stable political structure, and world-class health system, to the impact of popular culture – as demonstrated by the popularity of Master Chef Australia in India.

The annual event honours Bruce Allen, a pioneer in current affairs television production at the ABC who at the time of his death in 2002, lectured in communication policy at the University.

Included in the event was the giving of The Bruce Allen Memorial Prize to student Karina Marlow. The prize, established by a donation from Bruce Allen's widow, Helen Styles, is presented each year to an Indigenous student enrolled in a communication degree at the University who has displayed leadership and engagement in the classroom and wider community.

Karina is studying a Bachelor of Arts (Media) and Bachelor of Laws double degree, and is actively involved in the Mentors at Macquarie program, working to inspire leadership in Indigenous students who are currently enrolled at Chifley College in Western Sydney.

Mr Varghese's address can be viewed online:

Source: Macquarie University Newsroom