GAP in 2018 – a year in review

| December 18, 2018

Global Access Partners’ co-founder and managing director, Catherine Fritz-Kalish, looks back at a year filled with achievements.

2018 has been an exciting year for Global Access Partners.

We have established the International Centre for Democratic Partnerships (ICDP) which has completed its first year of work. This extends GAP’s international reach into the South Pacific and opens more opportunities for GAP members to pursue networks in our broader region.

We have delivered far more than the original Pacific Connect programme envisioned, having established partnerships in the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Fiji and New Caledonia, as well as signing MoUs, developing input for policy, preparing research papers, building a vibrant Australia-Pacific network of emerging leaders, and starting new businesses in the region.

What struck me over the year was how very little we know about our closest neighbours and how much they can teach us about community building and the value of traditional Pacific customs and culture. Following a series of ICDP’s dialogues, workshops and multiple visits to the region,Pacific Connectnow boasts an online community of over 300 alumni – Australian and Pacific current and emerging leaders working together on practical projects.

The GAP 2018 Summit emphasisedopportunities and barriers to digital trade for Australia. An exceptional thought leadership community, supported by DXC, Austrade, HSF and Google, agreed to establish the GAP Taskforce on Digital Tradeto help facilitate Australian engagement in the regional digitisation of trade. The Summit brought together over 150 guests from the public and private sectors, and the highlights from our keynote speakers can be revisited on Open Forum.

We have built on last year’s Hidden Giants Summit and have formed a working group to develop a case for the Growth Institute – a permanent independent body to support medium-sized businesses and recognise their role in the Australian economy.

Secondary school education has become a focus for us as we advise the NSW Curriculum Review through a new targeted taskforce. Another GAP advisory is looking ahead at Australia’s healthcare system in 2040 and is due to report on its findings early next year. We also continue to pursue projects in space, infrastructure planning, data management, productive ageing, energy and the environment, early childhood education, courage and innovation in the public service, and knowledge capital, among others.

The fascinating thing about GAP projects is the unpredictable way in which they develop, often starting with no more than just a few bright ideas. Each project has a personal story that goes along with it – a chance meeting, accidental encounters, tangential conversations that highlight opportunities never before thought of, trusting relationships, open hearts. One such meeting led to the development of two new virtual reality cultural storytelling projects involving several Australian artists, the Northern Territory government and the Ministry for Communication and IT in Samoa.

GAP is more than a platform for discussion – it is a place where you are encouraged to share not just what you know, but what you believe in. The strong team at GAP, with their myriad skills, strong work ethic, and commitment to you and GAP as an organisation, continue working with you to turn your ideas into reality.

I look forward to seeing all of you engaged in at least one of our initiatives in 2019 and wish you all a restful holiday and a happy and healthy new year.