The year began, for me at least, in New Delhi as part of Australian Government delegation to the Raisina Dialogue (India’s answer to Singapore’s well established Shangri-La Dialogue). And now, it’s coming to an end in Suva, where I’ll be taking part in a conference on South Pacific Central Bank Governance (co-convened by the Reserve Bank of Fiji and Griffith Business School).

From the supercharged, fast-pace of India to the gentle flow of Fiji time, the two destinations are markers of a very full 2018 year, and emblematic of the sheer breadth, diversity and complexity of the Asia-Pacific region that we aim to understand. We’ve traversed much more ground in-between, considered issues at the nexus of politics, security, economies and development, and connected with a good many people in academic, government, industry and civil society. Remarkably, the conversations reveal similar concerns and aspirations – just from different perspectives. Bringing these perspectives together continues to be our ongoing challenge.

As an Institute, we have convened and participated in high level dialogues in Manila, Fuzhou, Penang, Haikou, Yokosuka, Kuala Lumper, Tokyo, and Jakarta; brought distinguished thought leaders, diplomats and influencers from across the region to the boardrooms of Brisbane; and sent our students out to gain work experience in the region. We are committed to building a strong presence across the Asia Pacific, and the work of the many researchers, adjuncts and alumni, not only from GAI, but from across the university, amplifies this presence.

There are simply too many standout moments and key initiatives to mention all. Collaboration and partnerships have been key themes for the year. Much of what we have achieved would not have been possible without strong connections within the university and the support of our external partners, most especially the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, CEDA (Queensland), Peking University, the Japanese Consulate General, the Office of Indonesian President’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, Universitas Indonesia, and the George Town Festival. We are deeply grateful for such incredible support.

As the year comes to a close, we are delighted to celebrate the success our all of our members, but especially Associate Professor Robin Roberts, Professor Kai He, Dr Lee Morgenbesser, Professor Saroja Selvanathan and Associate Professor Parmendra Sharma who received recognition for their research excellence and achievements in engagement. And congratulations also to Professor Andrew O’Neil, and Dr Feran Martinez i Coma for their recent  ARC Discovery Grant success.

In 2019 we will work towards our vision of being the informed voice leading Australia’s strategic engagement in the Asia Pacific. This vision is underpinned by our renewed strategic focus on delivering excellent research, facilitating strong partnerships, informing community debate and ensuring positive student experiences.

To this end, I am very pleased to welcome Professor Ian Hall on board as Deputy Director (Research) to assist in driving our research agenda forward.

I look forward to working with Ian, the brilliant GAI team and all our members, friends and colleagues in 2019 as we implement our strategy and continue to cultivate the knowledge, capabilities and connections that will inform and enrich Australia’s Asia-Pacific future.

Caitlin Byrne