Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Hanoi Statement Calls For Regional Co-Operation

The first East Asia Ministerial Forum on Families has highlighted the vital role well-functioning families play in contributing to strong societies and economies, the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said in Hanoi today.

Ministers from Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Australia issued a statement, which committed the region to co-operation on policies to strengthen and support families and children.

Senator Patterson said the Hanoi Statement committed the Regional Ministers to raising the profile of family policy and recognising its important contribution to social progress and stability in the Region.

“It includes a commitment to a new phase of co-operation among countries in the region to share research findings and respond to social policy concerns within a strategic framework,” she said.

“Although we live in different cultural and economic environments, we share similar challenges and experiences when it comes to building stronger families and communities in our own countries.”

The nations of the region undertook to have research institutions work together on joint research projects; exchange staff on study visits; joint development of comparative indicators of family wellbeing.

Senator Patterson said the East Asia Ministerial Forum recognised that programs and policies to support families and children required a whole-of-government approach.

Wellbeing and social outcomes were determined by education, health, employment as well as social welfare policies.

Senator Patterson said: “I believe this important Forum has helped to strengthen the relationship between our countries and improve our understanding of each other’s circumstances and the challenges that lie ahead.

“Australia’s support of this important forum on families demonstrates the Howard Government’s commitment to co-operating with our regional neighbours on issues of mutual interest.”

Senator Patterson co-hosted the Forum with the Vietnamese government.