Project team members

Joel Backwell is a Senior Policy Adviser in the Resources and Infrastructure Branch of the Department of Premier and Cabinet. Before moving to the public service he was a solicitor with Freehills in their Major Projects Team and worked on a number of matters in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. Joel is fluent in Indonesian and previously lived in Jakarta, where he worked for Adelaide-based resources company Santos and local law firm Soemadipradja & Taher. Joel has also worked for the last six years on a pro bono basis representing Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, two members of the ‘Bali 9′ currently facing the death penalty. Joel holds degrees in Law, Arts and Applied Finance, and is currently a participant in the 2011 Asialink Leaders Program.

Julien Leyre is a Strategic Research Officer in the Policy and Strategy Group at the Department of Primary Industries. He migrated to Melbourne from France in 2008, taking three months to travel overland from Paris to Singapore and discover Asia. Since arriving in Australia, he has worked as a French tutor, a film-director, and an exhibition curator. While in Paris, he worked as an academic, teaching English, linguistics and discourse analysis at the Sorbonne University, after studies in Classics, Arts, and Philosophy at the Ecole Normale Superieure, and a double Masters in Linguistics and English. He also collaborated to various multimedia arts projects, and published a novel. He has been learning Mandarin since 2007, and is currently building a not-for-profit web-based platform to crowd-source translations of Chinese texts into Western languages, under the name of Marco Polo Project. In July and August 2011, he will be working at Alliance Francaise in Tianjin, and try to build collaborative art and language projects between Australia, France and Northern China.

Amelia Fyfield is a Senior Executive Officer in the Office of the Secretary at the Department of Primary Industries.  On finishing her honours degree in Asian Studies, Amelia taught advanced Indonesian-English and English-Indonesian translation at the Australian National University, where she was also a contributor to the Malay Concordance Project. Amelia is a NAATI qualified professional translator of Indonesian, and has translated a range of Indonesian and Malay texts for various academic project teams and not-for-profit organizations. After returning to Melbourne from Canberra, Amelia worked for several years as Personal Assistant to the Consul General at the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in Melbourne. She is currently completing a Master of International Business at the University of Melbourne, and will be traveling to Kuala Lumpur in July to participate in the 2011 Global Business Practicum.

Key contributors

The project team would particularly like to thank Julia Madden, David Paroissien and Julia Fraser from Asialink for meeting with us on a number of occasions to discuss our idea. Asialink is Australia’s leading centre for the promotion of public understanding of the countries of Asia and of Australia’s role in the region and is a glowing example of what could be achieved by setting up a Vic-Asia Unit. Asialink is a a non-academic centre of The University of Melbourne and an initiative of the Myer Foundation, and is a key provider of information, training and professional networks. Having already worked with the Victorian government on numerous programs during the last 20 years, Asialink would be an important partner for the Vic-Asia Unit going forward.

We are also extremely grateful to Melbourne production company Quick Chat Productions, who kindly offered their services, free of charge, to produce our headline promotional VIDEO.  The team, led by Executive Producer Nghi Huynh, have previously worked on a number of short and feature films and can be contacted at


In the the process of developing this idea, our team has met with a number of people to seek their input and we are extremely grateful for their contributions. Here are the names of just a few:

  • Sophie Colquitt, Strategy and Implementation Branch, DPC
  • Chris George, ABS out-posted officer, DTF and DPC
  • Lynn Pickles, Manager Multicultural Education, Office for Government School Education, DEECD
  • Julia Madden, Senior Project Officer, Asia Education Foundation
  • Gianfranco Spinoso, Acting Director, Officer of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship
  • Max Coffman, Senior Policy Adviser, DPC
  • Luke Arnold, Senior Policy Adviser, AusAID

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