To mark the 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relation between Bhutan and Australia, the Ambassador of Australia to Bhutan H.E. Ms. Harinder Sidhu visited Bhutan from 20th to 24th November 2017. The Ambassador was accompanied by officials from the Australian High Commission in New Delhi.
During the visit the Ambassador was granted an audience by His Majesty the King on 22nd November 2017. Ambassador Sidhu also called on the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, the leader of the opposition and other senior officials in the Royal Government during her visit. The Ambassador also met with the Australian volunteers working in Bhutan.
As a part of the celebration, a book titled ‘An Alumni Perspective’ published by Bhutan Australia Alumni Association was launched on 21st November 2017. During the book launch the Minister for Foreign Affairs Lyonpo Damcho Dorji and Ambassador Sidhu delivered their keynote addresses focusing on the Australia-Bhutan education partnership.
On 22nd November 2017, H.E. Lyonpo Lekey Dorji, Minister for Economic Affairs and Vice Chairman of the Tourism Council of Bhutan, launched the ‘Bhutan-Australia Friendship Offer’ for Australian tourists to visit Bhutan in the months of June, July and August of 2018. Later in the evening Ambassador Sidhu awarded certificates to the 43 Australia Award and Endeavour scholarship recipients from Bhutan for the intake 2018.
Ambassador Sidhu launched the Australian film showcase at the Lugar Theater attended by the members of the cabinet, senior government officials, members of the Film Association of Bhutan and the Australian community in Thimphu on 23rd November 2017. Eight Australian feature films will be screened for free in various theatres across Thimphu from 23rd to 26th November 2017.
Ambassador Sidhu also presented a cheque worth USD 400,000 through the UNDP office in Thimphu to promote the rights of persons with disabilities in Bhutan. The Ambassador also announced the funding of AUD 120,000 for the extension of the school feeding programme through the World Food Programme Bhutan during the visit.
Bhutan and Australia established formal diplomatic relations on 14 September 2002.