Australian Fulbright Alumni Association (AFAA)


  • 18 Feb 2020 10:24 AM | Vanessa Adams (Administrator)

    During 2019, the Australian Fulbright Alumni Association (AFAA) has celebrated two important milestones: (i) the 70th Anniversary of Australia’s Fulbright Program; and (ii) AFAA’s 30th birthday. It was a busy year for the organization, making the most of the year to celebrate the Fulbright program and our vibrant alumni base. During 2019 we held dozens of events and engaged hundreds of people across Australia. The year’s events began on 1st March with the Canberra public Salon on the Future of the Australian-American Relationship. The year concluded some 30 events later in Adelaide on 28th November, with the South Australian Thanksgiving dinner held in conjunction with the Australian-American Association. Our major initiative for 2019 was the Frayed Lives, Threads of Hope program. Through nine events held throughout November across three capital cities, the program engaged more than 500 people. Throughout the year we have welcomed our engagement with the Australian-American Fulbright Commission, the US State Department and many other partners. Read all about the events and more in our year end bulletin.

  • 21 Mar 2019 8:51 PM | Vanessa Adams (Administrator)

    The Salon on the Future of the Australian-American Relationship, hosted by the Australian Fulbright Alumni Association (AFAA), was very successful. The event was held between 10am and 12pm on Friday March 1, in the Common Room, University House, Australian National University, Canberra. The event was supported by the Australian-American Fulbright Commission along with the United States Embassy Canberra and was attended by Fulbright scholars and alumni as well as ANU students and the general public.

    The Salon included three high calibre guest speakers, each of whom spoke about a different aspect of the Australian-American relationship:

    • ·       Prof Brian Schmidt AC, Vice-Chancellor, Australian National University
    • Focus: Australian-American research and education collaboration
    • ·       Alex Oliver, Director of Research, Lowy Institute
    • Focus: Australian public opinion and diplomacy
    • ·       Prof James Curran, Professor, Department of History, University of Sydney
    • Focus: Australian-American strategic relationship.

    Opening remarks were provided by AFAA President Iain Butterworth and US Embassy Acting Deputy Chief of Mission, Michael Heath. AFAA Committee Member Daniel McNamara was the event MC. The event included an audience question and answer session.

    AFAA engaged publicist Karen Conrad to promote the event. This resulted in the event being promoted on a radio interview with Prof James Curran being featured on 2CC, a major commercial radio station in Canberra.

  • 21 Mar 2019 8:16 PM | Vanessa Adams (Administrator)

    AFAA is pleased to announce that this year's WG Walker Scholarship was awarded to Graham Arkhurst, the the first Indigenous Australian recipient of the WG Walker Scholarship.

    Graham - a University of Queensland master of philosophy student and creative arts lecturer - will head to New York city (Hunter College, CUNY) to share the stories of his people through his literary craft.  To get to know Graham a bit better we've reproduced a lovely Q&A from Australia Council for the Arts below (


    What type of artist are you? What are the themes/stories you like to explore within your chosen field?

    I write poetry and fiction. My debut book Borderland is a young adult fiction novel that renders Indigenous youth identity, discusses eco-politics and Indigenous connection to land, and also Indigenous cosmologies.

    When growing up in Brisbane (QLD), did you ever think you would venture to New York City for further study?

    My father is a pilot, so I actually grew up in many places. Western Samoa and Singapore, mainly. I came back to Australia in 1995 and started high school in Brisbane. To be honest, I never expected to study overseas, let alone New York City. I failed a bunch of attempts at university before I became sick with cancer in 2011 and decided to go to The University of Queensland after my treatment.

    As a Kokominni person, what parts of your cultural development have helped you become a leader for your people?

    I would never call myself a leader. I am active in creating stronger Indigenous representation within higher education and the arts. I hope that my achievements can be something that young people come to understand as an achievable norm.

    In a ‘First Nations’ context, what do you think 'Leadership' is and its meaning to First Nations people globally?

    Leadership is about understanding the strengths of community and working with like-minded individuals and community centres to create meaningful change. I will be engaging with the First Nation’s mob in New York and Arizona and hope to write my second novel provisionally titled, The Water Carrier set in Australia and on Navaho land. I will work closely with the Navaho nation in writing the book to make sure they are happy with my work.

    On the journey so far, what leaders have inspired you and why? Did they share particular qualities that are similar to your leadership qualities today?

    I have had amazing opportunities at The University of Queensland (UQ) and have been incredibly fortunate to work alongside people such as Sid Domic, Jim Walker, Dr Chelsea Bond and Professors Cindy Shannon, and Bronwyn Fredricks, in my former role as an Associate Lecturer in Indigenous Studies at UQ. They taught me how to navigate the predominantly white space of a sandstone university. Two key mentors in my journey have been Associate Professor Jon Willis, who mentored me in my studies and writing, and Dr Carlos Rivera who was able to introduce me to Peter Carey. Carey currently works at Hunter College, where I hope to continue my studies abroad.

    What made you apply for the Australia Council for the Arts ‘Future Leaders Program’?

    The arts are an integral tool for Indigenous peoples to undermine misrepresentations of mob, give voice, and subvert colonial power structures. I chose to apply to the Future Leaders Program to give me the skills and networks to continue that work. 

    Were there unexpected skills you learnt from the ‘Future Leaders Program’?

    While the program was well run and thoughtful. It was all about the relationships for me. Learning what my peers are doing and how they handle strategic leadership positions was insightful. I learned more from the other participants than I ever could from the structured sessions.

    After graduating from the ‘Future Leaders Program’ what capacity skills did you walk away with and how did you apply those skills to your international pursuits?

    Being an emerging writer and academic I learnt so much about the other arts sectors and the running and development of arts related projects and festivals. Having that knowledge helps me think differently about collaboration and offers new avenues for my creative work and practice. 

    How would the introduction of a ‘First Nations Leadership Program’ address gaps in representation in the current program?

    I think the development of a First Nations Program will fill the one gapping issue that I noticed, that of Indigenous and First Nations representation in the program. I was the only Indigenous Australian participant in the 2018 Future Leader Program.

    How did it feel when you found out that you had received a scholarship to study in the U.S?

    I was over the moon! I have worked so hard on my writing and studies. I have this dream of developing my creative practice with masters of the writing craft in America, which is considered the epicenter of global publishing. This dream was dependent on securing funding. To have that funding and support was a great relief after a very stressful application and interview process.

    Why choose tertiary education in the U.S over Australia and why an interest in Hunter College?

    I am not necessarily choosing one over the other. I will leave Australia with a first class honours degree and a Master of Philosophy both in creative writing from The University of Queensland. I am consolidating or enhancing the skills I have already learned in Australia with a different style of program in America. Also, I relish the opportunity to work with First Nation American’s and having that connection is important to my personal and professional development.

    When Australian writer Peter Carey read my work on my last visit to New York, he suggested I apply to Hunter College where he teaches. Hunter is considered one of the most well respected and exclusive fiction writing MFA programs in the world. I hope to learn as much as possible from those masters of craft and the talented small cohort of students.

    What do you think spending time in the U.S and away from Australia will offer?

    They have a similar yet vastly different experience of colonisation in America and I look to learn from the First Nations people there and bring back that knowledge.

    It is a personal goal of mine to enhance the profile and distribution of Indigenous creative works to the rest of the world and I see my time in America as an opportunity to start that process.

    What advice would you give to the Kokominni leaders of tomorrow?

    I struggle with the terminology of leadership. I don’t pretend to lead anyone. What I would say to any Indigenous person is to follow what you are passionate about and the rest will come with dedication and perseverance.

    What does the next five years of your leadership journey look like and how do you hope to be a Kokominni leader in the future?

    I want to write, teach, and push Indigenous Australian literature to the world in a way that hasn’t yet been achieved.
  • 21 Mar 2019 8:02 PM | Vanessa Adams (Administrator)

    Thank you to those members who joined us at our Annual General Meeting. We had an exciting discussion around what 2019 holds for AFAA and looking further into the future how to invigorate the organization and continue our growth.  Iain Butterworth presented his President's report (available here) and Vanessa Adams presented the 2018 Financial report (available here). Excitingly - the National Committee welcomed two new members, Nyrie Palmer and Rod Kennett (full meeting minutes here). Here's to a great 2019!

  • 13 Dec 2018 10:30 AM | Vanessa Adams (Administrator)

    The Western Australia Chapter hosted its annual gala dinner on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Fulbright program - a fitting day for such a celebration.  It was a vibrant event including a delicious meal, comradery  of alumni and a keynote from Diane Kirkby.  We thank all the attendees for making this a most enjoyable event.

  • 13 Dec 2018 9:58 AM | Vanessa Adams (Administrator)
    As a reminder - it's that time of year again. Our memberships are on a calendar year basis.  If you are on an annual or 5-year membership and your membership is up for renewal you will have received an automated reminder and invoice. If you have any problems paying the invoice or prefer a different form of payment to credit card just contact us and we can help!  Ever wondered where your membership dues go? Here's a quick summary of how your membership fees help us maintain our operations:
    • 25% of all dues go to support the WG Walker Fund. And if you want to provide further support to this fund you can donate directly to the fund via the Commission. 
    • 50% of membership dues goes to our basic annual operations such as web hosting, insurance, and incorporation fees.
    • 25% goes to supporting local events such as the Salon and Western Australia Chapter gala dinner.
  • 13 Dec 2018 9:53 AM | Vanessa Adams (Administrator)
    We are a 100% volunteer organization and we rely on our vibrant membership to help maintain and lead the organization in our operations as well as hosting exciting events. 2019 is going to be another busy and exciting year.  If you would like to be involved please contact us at  There are a range of ways you can get involved:

    1. We have space on our committee - please nominate yourself if you'd like to join the national committee.

    2. We are hosting our next national conference in 2019 in Sydney and are now staffing our conference organizing committee. Want to be involved? You don't have to be located in Sydney to contribute - the organizing committee takes on a range of activities such as inviting keynote speakers, designing panel sessions, reviewing abstracts, finalizing the conference program and much more.  Join us now to help make this another great event.

    3. Host a local event - want to host a local event (either informal like fish and chips or after work drinks, or formal, like a public speaker event) - get in touch and we can help support you.

  • 13 Dec 2018 9:31 AM | Vanessa Adams (Administrator)

    On 20th November, some 90 people attended the 2018 AFAA Victoria Salon, Finding a voice in a post-truth world: valuing a critical perspective.

    We were honoured by the participation of: US Consul General to Victoria, Michael F. Kleine; Diane Kirkby, Fulbright alum, Professor of Law and Humanities at the University of Technology Sydney, and Research Professor (Emeritus) in History at La Trobe University; Prof Dennis Altman (La Trobe University and Fulbright alumnus); and  Phillipa McGuinness (author and publisher). 

    Following opening remarks by US Consul Genera Kleine, Prof Kirkby set the agenda for a fascinating and provoking discussion on the role of truth in modern society: 

    How do you make sense of reality when elected representatives, supposedly trustworthy officials and leaders, routinely lie, distort the truth, or claim indeed, remarkably and incomprehensibly, ‘truth isn’t truth’?  What can that possibly mean?

    History is not always a comfortable truth but the professional standards and ethics of our discipline require that we adhere to a rigorous interrogation and ask hard questions. Story-telling is at its heart, but the stories are not fibs. And they are not fiction.

    All three speakers offered diverse and original perspectives on Prof Kirkby's call for us all to remember "the importance of truth-telling in the public domain as critical to maintenance of democracy and the public domain". 

    We were delighted that Dr Alice Garner also could speak at the launch of Prof Diane Kirkby and Dr Alice Garner's new book, "Academic Ambassadors, Pacific Allies: Australia, America and the Fulbright Program".

    We extend our sincere thanks to the Vice Chancellor's Office at the University of Melbourne for sponsoring this event. 

    For a full photo gallery visit the salon page. Below a picture of AFAA president Iain Butterworth and speaker Dr Alice garner.

  • 29 Aug 2018 12:46 PM | Vanessa Adams (Administrator)

    We are pleased to announce that the topic of this year's AFAA Salon is: Finding a voice in a post-truth world: valuing a critical perspective.

    The 2018 AFAA salon will be held on November 20th at the Woodward Conference Centre.  Fulbright alumni Prof Diane Kirkby and Dr Alice Garner will lead the event and also launch their new book on the history of the Fulbright program.

    This event is hosted by the Victoria Chapter and we thank the University of Melbourne for their generous sponsorship.

    This is an annual public event and is widely popular (nearly always a sell out!). Tickets will be enabled several months prior to the event.
  • 17 Aug 2018 8:40 PM | Vanessa Adams (Administrator)

    Did you know that the first Fulbright Grantees traveled abroad 70 years ago in 1948? To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Fulbright Program AFAA will be hosting a range of events this year including an upcoming Victorian Quarterly Gathering reflecting on the local Australian Fulbright History and our annual Victorian Salon will also take a historical perspective (more forthcoming). Our 2019 Fulbright Alumni Conference will also celebrate the anniversary with a stimulating conference program and dinner.  Watch this space for more announcements of event details!

Australia Fulbright Alumni Association. ACT Registered No. A01934. ABN 99 730 723 674. PO Box 5037, University of TAS LPO, Sandy Bay, TAS 7005.

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