White Paper - Australia in the Asian Century.
SurfAid International’s Schools Program perspective – engaging
with Asia through sport, education and humanitarian assistance.
The SurfAid Schools Program - connecting people through education
The SurfAid Schools Program is an education program based on the
humanitarian focussed activities of SurfAid International (a.k.a. SurfAid.) SurfAid
works in the Mentawai and Nias islands off the coast of West Sumatra, Indonesia
and provides community health and development programs as well as
emergency response, recovery and preparedness programs. SurfAid is a by-
product of the spread of surfing through Asia. Surfing’s most notable impact in
the region has been in Indonesia but the sport is growing. China, India,
Bangladesh all have fledgling surf communities while Japan, The Philippines, Sri
Lanka and the Maldives have more mature links.
SurfAid has worked in these islands for 11 years and the Schools Program began
in 2007 in Australia, and New Zealand and in the US since 2009. Currently, 2000
teachers are registered with the program.
The Schools Program is funded by Billabong International as part of it’s
commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility. Billabong, the largest Australian
surf brand, has extensive commercial links throughout Asia.
This submission focuses on the importance of using all available links with Asia
to create educational opportunities that develop and improve the mutual
understanding of our cultural similarities and differences.
2. Focus on social, cultural and intellectual engagement for Australia
The comments provided relate in part to the focus area headlined above.
At it’s worst, Australian cultural engagement with Asia looks arrogant, ignorant,
xenophobic and “boganesque”. At it’s best, it is open, embracing, respectful and
To ensure that future generations develop positive modes of social, cultural and
intellectual engagement, our education system must focus on improving Asian
To do this, engaging and authentic teaching and learning experiences must
continue be developed and supported so that a multi-faceted approach to Asian
cultural immersion is developed. i.e. not just trade and economics.
Education systems, teacher training, resource development and on-going
professional development must be comprehensively funded to ensure that
teachers have contemporary resources readily available.
Teaching resources and courses must be built on the most modern and effective
delivery platforms. This is a process of constant evolution and inherent in the
education process is a need to have funding for new initiatives that is regular and
Under-pinning the Schools Program messaging is the practical opportunity for
individuals to contribute to the alleviation of poverty. SurfAid provides a
mechanism for local action to contribute to global improvement. Motivating
support for development assistance is a complex area that ranges from the
extremely negative and selfish to overly well meaning and evangelical. The
Schools Program stems from the belief that early education and exposure to
positive values messages and cultural similarities is more likely to lead to
thoughtful cultural awareness that will enhance mutual understanding and
The SurfAid Schools program is an example of how a popular student activity can
be used to improve inter-cultural understanding. The spread of a youth oriented
sport with its western cultural identity can be an uncomfortable experience for a
host culture. The impact of surfing in Bali is a case in point. It has bought about
massive changes to the island and its people. The wealth generated by mass
tourism is overpowering the ecosystems and impacting on the social norms that
existed there 40 years ago. The surf areas on Nias also reflect this. As surfing
spreads to other parts of Indonesia and Asia, it would be culturally responsible
for our future surfing tourists to travel there with a more Asia aware mindset
and a values-set that reflects the best of our culture.
In what ways will governments and business support education initiatives that
seek to improve school education resource development and delivery?