The Shangri-La dialogue has grown to be one of the biggest strategic gatherings in the world. Attending such a large conference was exciting – the energy and buzz in the room was palpable and it was amazing being part of the journey of the conference as it built a shared understanding of key themes and regional challenges.

In 2013, as a young Indigenous beach-loving Queenslander, the thought of moving to land-locked Canberra for a graduate position was at first daunting for Emily Pugin. However she soon discovered all that Canberra has to offer- and has seen the world while she’s at it.

DFAT has been on quite a journey over the past 20 years. We now have a growing cadre of highly skilled and motivated Indigenous officers who are advancing Australia’s national interests at home and abroad.

As part of Australia’s commitment to greater recognition of human rights, our embassies in the Mekong are working with governments and civil society to promote rights for LGBTI people.

With huge smiles, the business people I met shared exciting plans for attracting inward investment and driving local exports into new markets. I had come to talk about the importance of expanding trade with South East Asia but they were ahead of me and had so much to share.

Understanding and recognising the uniqueness of our individual differences is what makes our communities and countries strong, inclusive and progressive.

A White Paper may sound bureaucratic and complicated but getting it right can make a real difference to Australia’s security and prosperity.