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Victorian Premier launches new Asian Cultural and Language program


4 August 2010

The Hon John Brumby MP Premier of Victoria today launched the Westpac Group’s new Cultural and Language Learning Program for China and India.

A first for the banking industry, the programs are designed to help Westpac employees and Australia-based customers who do business with Asia or Asian communities to gain a deeper understanding of their market, as well as provide the opportunity for customers who have arrived from China and India to share their knowledge about their cultures and languages.

Mr Brumby said Westpac’s Chinese and Indian Culture and Language Program was an exciting new way to help staff and clients better engage with Asian markets.

“Here in Victoria we have long known that knowledge and understanding of different cultures is the key to greater global engagement.

“We are a diverse multicultural community, and our appreciation of cultures and traditions from around the world has given us a head start in linking Victoria into the global economy.

”China and India are two of Victoria’s most important trading partners, and so it is vital that we continue to enrich and deepen our engagement with these dynamic and rapidly transforming economies.”

Alice Wong, Westpac’s Head of Asia and Migrant Markets, said: “Westpac is active in supporting our customers and employees to better engage with their community. In particular this initiative will help our customers who wish to engage in trade flow between Australia and Asian nations understand the context here so they can grow their businesses successfully.”

“The Cultural and Language Learning Programs benefit from the Westpac Group’s vast global presence and will provide a locally based, hands-on solution to building greater understanding of two of Australia's most dynamic and growing trade and business partners,” Ms Wong said.

Chairman of Asialink, Mr Sid Myer, said “the ’Asian Century’ meant different things to different people, but what it does not mean is business as usual.  Asialink is honoured to partner and support The Westpac Group in its creative response to the challenge of doing business differently - providing new tools for the new century.”

The programs also provide the opportunity for customers who have arrived from China and India to gain understanding of the Australian marketplace and culture by sharing insights from their background.

This initiative is part of the Westpac Group’s strategic focus to service customers with links to Asia, and Asian customers with business interests in Australia and will be run in 50 Westpac and St George branch locations throughout Australia in the first year.  Westpac’s Cultural and Language Learning Programs will be delivered in collaboration with Asialink, the Asia Society and the Confucius Institute at the University of Melbourne. 

Key Statistics on China and India:

  • China and India make up our two fastest-growing migrant groups, and are two of the largest non-English speaking groups.
  • China is our largest trading partner, with $85.1 billion of two way trade in 2009.
  • There are 70,000 Chinese students in Australia, and 500,000 Chinese tourists visit Australia annually.
  • India was Australia’s third largest export market in 2009, and two-way trade was $20.9 billion in 2009.  
  • There are also 90,000 Indian students in Australia and India is an important IT outsourcing destination for Australian companies. 

About the Westpac Group’s China Cultural and Language Learning Program:

The Westpac Group has partnered with the Confucius Institute at the University of Melbourne to develop a program, with the purpose of assisting customers of the Westpac Group and the bank’s employees develop a better understanding of the Chinese market, culture and basic language. This follows a successful pilot of a program provided by the Confucius Institute in 2009.

The course is conducted over a seven hour interactive program and is divided into two sections. The first section covers cultural elements, with a special focus on the key issues for doing business in China. The following four hours focus on the participants gaining a basic grasp of the Chinese Language.

About the Westpac Group’s India Cultural and Language Learning Program:

Asialink was engaged by the Westpac Group to develop a program to assist the Westpac Group’s customers and employees as they enter the Indian market and engage with Indian migrants.

A three hour workshop draws on research and allows participants to explore cross-cultural issues in an engaging, participatory and interactive way. The program includes brief videos of prominent people who are themselves of Indian background and/or who have a long history of working with India, providing their insights and experiences to help illuminate points under discussion.

  • The first section of the program will cover basic “facts” associated with India’s population, geography, languages, religions and history
  • The second section, based on the findings of a global business management research program will examine important aspects of Indian culture with a special focus on business practice and differences from the Australian business context.