Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Welsh Society of Sydney in Australia

  On behalf of the Gymdeithas Gymreig Sydney—the Welsh Society of Sydney, which represents the Welsh community in Sydney, Australia and in our roles as President and Director of Media and PR for the Society, it gives us great pleasure to provide the following response.

  The comments comprise comments relating political, diplomatic, cultural, export promotion, inward investment, business links and investment interaction spheres.

  This response is made up of individual views of members of Gymdeithas Gymreig Sydney and others from the Welsh Community in Australia.

The Response

  To obtain these comments and response, the Executive Committee of Gymdeithas Gymreig has discussed the request for responses and requested those who wished to repond to provide them to the Director of Media and PR for onward transmission to you.

  Members have expressed their view regarding their opinion of the promotion of Wales overseas and in particular Australia.

    Comments included:

    A dearth of Welsh Imagery overseas and in particular Australia, comparing this to Riverdance, Scottish Pipes, etc and that Wales does not get the requisite exposure.

    There is a view that a Welsh image campaign in selected markets overseas should be considered. The Wales Tourist Board and Welsh Development Agency have undertaken extensive work in this area, in key markets, but with very limited staffing and financial resources in particular in comparison to other countries, eg Ireland.

    This limited funding extends to UK central government representation, ie British High Commission, British Tourist Authority and British Council in Australia who have limited funds to promote Britain as a whole, without diverting funds to the specific promotion of Wales. Everything seems to be rather on a shoestring budget and Wales accordingly does not get a large share of the very small Britain cake.

      A wish to see a global drive to encourage residents in selected countries to learn the Welsh language and that resources to do this in Wales are limited and that funding should be provided in Wales, perhaps via the internet to undertake this.

    A belief that Central Government organisations cannot provide the single minded focus that Welsh Assembly organisations can. Additional funding should be provided to Welsh Assembly organisations to undertake the following;

    1.  substantial general awareness building of Wales in terms of inward investment, tourism and other selected and specific countries and areas to targeted markets;

    2.  specific promotions relating to specific inward investment and tourism opportunities in selected and specific countries and areas to targeted markets.

      That consideration should be given to undertaking research regarding those countries, which are likely to bring the highest potential return on investment

    That consideration should be given to the employment in selected and high priority countries of:

    Specific Wales teams working within the Embassy, High Commissions, Consulates General or other government or quasi government organisations to specifically raise awareness of Wales in terms of the target activities.

    In terms of Australia, a belief that the Welsh Assembly should seek representation for Wales in a similar form to an Embassy or Diplomatic role, but with the specific remit of raising awareness and promoting Wales.

    That any appointments in Welsh posts overseas must be held by Welsh speakers as the Welsh language is clearly a unique part of the image of Wales overseas and should be used in promotions and image building. This can only be achieved by utilising first language Welsh speakers in these roles.

    Agreement with the President's view regarding establishing a Welsh Assembly or Welsh Affairs committee in Sydney to work with appointed staff to develop awareness and promote Wales and provide responses to the organisations listed in Wales.

    That Welsh promotions overseas and in particular in Australia in whatever form should be undertaken by one organisation that encompasses all aspects of Welsh activities, ie in particular we believe that WDA and WTB's work should be undertaken overseas by one organisation representing Wales, not under a Britain banner as in the case of tourism, where Wales tends to be lost, does not get adequate exposure, nor adequate allocation of their sparse resources. We wish to add that we consider that BTA and the British Council are also substantially underfunded and any Wales work would be in co-operation with these organisations.

    A belief that the image and promotion of Wales should reflect devolution in Wales, the creation of the Welsh Assembly and accordingly, whilst we appreciate in certain markets it may not be cost effective and may need to be incorporated with that of Britain, in other specific targeted countries with the highest return on investment, Wales should be represented independently, by a Welsh organisation or organisations and by Welsh speaking, Welsh people.

  John Lloyd, the President of the Welsh Society of Sydney has already sent you a copy of his views, with which we agree. His reply is also copied here:

  1.  That a Welsh diplomatic Office for Australia, be set up in Sydney, comprising, at first, of an officer in charge, an offsider and two secretaries. This would have the initial objective of establishing a base for operations in the above mentioned spheres. Apart from the obvious credentials required of a person in such an office, this officer would need to be Welsh and be able to speak Welsh. (Suggestion: Ambassador to the European Commission for Australia and New Zealand, Aneurin Hughes)

  2.  An interim committee be set up in Sydney for the Assembly and the Welsh Affairs Committee through the Gymdeithas Gymreig, to advise and do some basic footwork for the Welsh Affairs Committee and the Welsh Assembly on relevant matters. This Society has members who are not only dedicated to the betterment of Wales but are also capable of approaching individuals in all walks of life.

  Re 1 and 2: Functions of an interim committee/office could:

    —  Make contact with business directors.

    —  Respond to ideas put to it from the Welsh Assembly and the Welsh Affairs Committee.

    —  Coordinate meetings.

    —  Organise conferences.

    —  Confer diplomatically with/through the British Consulates.

  These would require some initial investment to set up and maintain but such is needed if benefits are to flow.

  3.  That the Welsh Development Agency in Australia be headed by a stimulating, enterprising Welsh speaking, Welsh person. (Where Wales is concerned, I believe there should be consideration for the Welsh point of view. There is a need for a Welsh bilingual person who cares no less for the non Welsh speakers to be seen in this position) Currently the WDA does not have a Welsh person at the helm and it is most noticeable. (Suggestion: John Alwyn-Jones of Sydney)

  4.  Wales is not in the eye of the public in Australia, as is Scotland. A glossy magazine, developed jointly by Wales and Australia, is needed to attract a wide interest in the potential of Wales and things Welsh. There is a great need for a monthly or a quarterly Welsh magazine with an Australian flavour.

  The writers association of the Gymdeithas Gymreig Sydney would be keen to help in the development of such an enterprise. Note that most effective Scottish magazines are for sale in all newsagents in Australia. Nothing pertaining to Wales exists.

  5.  Irish goods, tourism and cultural events are sold and advertised in AIrish Shops@ in the capital cities of Australia. This does much to promote the profile of Ireland amongst the general public. It gives the general public a degree of pride in their Irish background. Wales has become known to the general public simply through the generation of the Welsh Assembly and its granting of a modicum of respect. An enterprise such as a Welsh shop in the main capital cities of Australia could prove most beneficial.

  6.  The generation of a Welsh foundation in Australia linking the Welsh Societies could be of considerable advantage in that it would facilitate enterprises—trade, investment, cultural and academic exchange, etc. It would avoid duplication of effort. This is especially important in Australia where distances between capitals are considerable.

  The Gymdeithas Gymreig Sydney has recently discussed this idea.

  7.  The most important point of all however with respect to the role of the UK Government in promoting Wales abroad, relates to the devolution process occurring in the UK. Respect for Wales overseas is in direct proportion to the national status granted to that nation.

    The most serious point I would put is that devolution should be taken a further step with respect to Wales, that the UK Government give to Wales the full political, legal and financial control and rights being granted to Scotland.

    This will have the most serious and beneficial affect on the promotion of Wales abroad. Wales will be seen, and welcomed, for what she really is, a nation in her own right.

    It will also reflect most favourably upon England. If England can not only respect Wales sufficiently to do this, but also help Wales to attain such a status, it will engender a real respect in Wales and peoples around the world for the English. Respect for such an enlightened act would be quite stunning.

    Overseas the same applies. There are millions of Welsh beyond the shores of Great Britain all wishing and hoping that the English will do the right thing by the Welsh. In Sydney there are many disappointed Welsh who feel that not only has Wales never had a fair go, but she has been most badly treated. The consequences of such an enlightened act, where the heart of a nation is concerned, can only engender good will for all in the future.

Sion Llwyd, President

John Alwyn-Jones, Director of Media and PR

19 October 2000

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