September Event

Australia’s image of itself and in the world – as seen by Kamahl

At this online only event, Kamahl will share, through a discussion with the AIIA WA President, Brendan Augustin, his reflections and perspectives on how Australia's image of itself - and how others have seen us - has changed in the nearly 70 years that he has lived here.

Kamahl arrived in Adelaide as a 19-year-old student from Malaya (now Malaysia) in 1953. He was part of a first wave of students from Asia who were being allowed to come to study - but strictly not remain - in the country, which was still applying the White Australia policy which had been in place since Federation in 1901.

His improbable journey from an awkward international student in a strange land to becoming among the first persons of Asian heritage to emerge in the Australian entertainment industry, at a time when he was at risk of being deported due to the immigration policy, is a remarkable story. Overcoming significant barriers, which prevented many other performers of non-European background to establish themselves, he went on to build a successful career in Australia and across the world, selling more than 20 million records, including achieving number one hits in countries such as the Netherlands and Belgium.

As an Asian immigrant who broke into the world of popular culture at a time of race-based immigration policies and who then became a representative of Australia and Australian culture to the world, provides Kamahl with a truly unique vantage point to look at this journey of Australia's image since the 1950s, which he played an important role in shaping.

He will also share his experience of Australia's practice of Cultural Diplomacy, having represented his adopted nation to the world, and explore his ideas on what more as a country we can be doing to provide to the world a more contemporary view of Australia – a place vastly different to one in which he arrived in 1953.



AIIA WA Member Ticket
Member Price Complimentary
AIIA Member Ticket (other branches)
Non Member Ticket

The Australian Institute of International Affairs WA

The Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA) is an independent, non-profit organisation seeking to promote interest in and understanding of international affairs in Australia.

The WA Branch of the AIIA was founded in 1947 by Professor Fred Alexander of the University of WA, who became its first President. Like the earlier established branches in the other Australian states, the WA Branch was modelled on the British Royal Institute of International Affairs, based at Chatham House in London.

The WA Branch has maintained a steady membership, including many prominent West Australian and national leaders. Successive State Governors have served as the Branch's Official Visitor. The aim of the institute is to be an independent and non-political body that facilitates and encourages the study and debate of international questions.

Membership fees includes a subscription to The Australian Journal of International Affairs as well as two tickets at the member price to each of our our monthly meetings where you will learn about developments in international affairs of concern to the people of Western Australia. We rely on membership contributions and sponsorship of special events to keep our association running: we receive no core funding from government.