The 2019 Aspire Awards breakfast was held on 12 June 2019 at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre. Convened by the Perth Convention Bureau (PCB), the program offers scholarships of up to $10,000 for individuals to undertake personal and professional development, either by attending conferences or by completing further education in their area of expertise.
This year, the inaugural Defence West Professional Development Award was presented by the WA Minister for Defence Issues, the Hon. Paul Papalia, CSC MLA. In acknowledging the high calibre of applications received, the Minister announced that two finalists were successful recipients of the Award.
WA DEFENCE REVIEW Founder and Managing Editor, Serge Desilva-Ranasinghe’s work in establishing WA DEFENCE REVIEW and facilitating collaboration between Defence, industry and SMEs was acknowledged. His efforts in furthering high-level conversations between WA and the eastern states, has contributed to positioning WA’s defence sector to be more involved in, and taking better advantage of, developments in Defence locally, nationally and even internationally.
Acknowledging the opportunity presented by the accolade, he said: “WA DEFENCE REVIEW is honoured to be a recipient of this prestigious award. We look forward to using this opportunity to further advance the interests of WA’s defence sector in international markets.”
Serge intends to use the award funds to attend WEST2020, a premier naval conference and exposition in San Diego in March 2020. For more than 30 years, WEST has brought together military and industry leaders to network and collaborate. Given the sister-city relationship between Perth and San Diego, and the similarities between the two in terms of defence and naval capability, attending the Conference should provide insight and inspiration for the advancement of opportunities for Western Australian defence.
The Award’s second recipient was Josef Ignacio Czeschka Rojas of L2S Engineering, who at the age of 19, is already a high achiever. As well as his work as a trade’s assistant at L2S Engineering, he is completing a major in Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Western Australia. Josef is using his award money to attend the Asia Pacific Maritime Exhibition 2020 in Singapore, which connects the defence industries of the Indo-Pacific region. He is excited by the opportunity to understand how trade can maintain peace and cooperation between nations.
The addition of the Defence West Aspire Conference Scholarship brings the number of Aspire awards to 11. Awards are presented by all four major Western Australian universities, as well as City of Perth, City of Fremantle, Perron Institute, Telethon Kids Institute, Giving West, and the Australian Institute of Management WA. Educators and researchers were strongly represented in the award recipients, underscoring the dedication to academic excellence promoted by Aspire, and the importance of ongoing research and knowledge accumulation. Winners planned to attend a number of diverse conferences across Australia and internationally.
PCB works to attract business tourism to WA. Conventions and incentive travel groups form a large part of this, making business tourism one of the highest-yielding segments of the tourist industry. It contributes in excess of $140m annually in direct delegate expenditure into WA. The venue for the function was a perfect example of what Western Australia has to offer as a conference destination, providing excellent facilities, great food, and a spectacular view of the city and the Swan River.