The Australian Embassy Phnom Penh and the Australian Alumni Association of Cambodia (AAA-C) held their annual Australian Alumni of the Year Awards on March 28, 2023, to celebrate the success of three outstanding Australian alumni.
The AAA-C Chair, Hong Reaksmey, welcomed more than 300 guests, including government officials, business people, academics, researchers and civil society leaders to the event.
“The AAA-C has a growing list of almost 600 registered members. Over 20,000 Cambodians have studied at an Australian institution, including almost 1,000 Australia Awards Scholarship awardees.
“We wish to have as many alumni as possible as part of this platform – whether Australia Awards Scholarships, other scholarships, privately funded or short course alumni,” Reaksmey said.
Australian Ambassador HE Justin Whyatt recognised the great contributions all Australian alumni are making to the development of Cambodia as a modern and dynamic country.
“The Australian Alumni of the Year Awards are a celebration of the strong, longstanding and mutually beneficial people to people links between Australia and Cambodia.
“It is a celebration of a growing community of Cambodians with a shared Australian experience.
“And most importantly, it is a celebration of your achievements as Australian alumni,” Whyatt said.
The event’s Guest of Honour, HE Samheng Boros, minister attached to the Prime Minister and Secretary of State at the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, expressed his appreciation of the education relationship between Australia and Cambodia.
He shared how so many in the room, including himself, had started their Australian education journey through learning English via “Book 1” and continued on to tertiary study at Australia’s world-renowned universities.
HE Dr Chea Serey, Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Cambodia, was awarded the Alumnus of the Year 2022.
“On this evening we celebrate not only our individual achievements, but also the collective impact of Australian alumni in Cambodia. As alumni we have a unique opportunity and responsibility to build bridges between our two countries and to create positive change in our communities.
“I have no doubt the educational experiences we gained from our time in Australia have equipped us with the necessary tools and skills to be agents of change in our respective fields.
“Our contributions to society, nation building and international relations have helped shape the future of Australia and Cambodia,” Serey said.
Dr Chhim Sotheara, the Executive Director of the Transcultural Psychiatry Organisation, received the Community Leadership Award 2022.
“The Australia Awards changed the way I practise medicine. It allowed me to study psychiatry from the perspective of medicine, culture, religious belief, politics and environment,” Sotheara said.
The Young Leadership Award was presented to Assistant Professor Sovanthida Suy, Deputy Director General at the Ministry of Health.
“The Australia Awards Scholarships is not just about getting the best education, but it also brings you to many new things, new experiences, new activities and especially you get to know people you can be friends with and you can work with for the rest of your life,” Suy said.
HE Samheng Boros noted the impact the three recipients had had on Cambodia.
“HE Dr Serey is shaping the country’s banking sector and empowering more women leaders.
“Dr Sotheara is a champion of mental health care for all Cambodians, and Assistant Professor Suy is an emerging young leader who is leading important public health education and research initiatives.
“If all of us – alumni of Australia – come together, anything is possible for Cambodia,” Boros said.
Each year approximately 45 Cambodian students are selected to pursue masters or doctoral degrees in Australian universities under the Australia Awards Scholarships.
Applications for the 2024 Australia Awards Scholarships intake for Cambodians close on May 1, 2023.
Please join the AAA-C if you graduated from an Australian tertiary education institution: [email protected].