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Southeast Asia has been considered one of Australia’s highest foreign policy priorities since at least the 1940s. But it has been difficult to achieve the sustained attention the region deserves.

Current geopolitical and geoeconomic trends provide a window of opportunity, with Southeast Asia a focus of attention for Australian decision-makers. Right now, there is the potential for a step-change in relations.

Australia needs a new vision for its engagement with Southeast Asia that extends across government and society. For Australia to influence and shape the region, it needs to use all tools of statecraft to achieve its foreign policy objectives, bringing together development, diplomacy and defence to achieve maximum effect.

This report argues that beyond government, Australia needs a whole-of-nation approach that builds a common vision across Australian society with a narrative that galvanises and inspires.

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