Australia’s next top diplomat to West Africa says the experiences and skills he gained while at The Australian National University (ANU) have helped shape his foreign service career.
Andrew Barnes (B Arts ’85) will from June become the High Commissioner in Accra, Ghana, in a role that has responsibility for nine countries including Mali, Liberia and Senegal.
“It’s a great privilege to be representing Australia overseas in any capacity, especially as the head of mission as a high commissioner or ambassador,” Andrew says.
“I have nine countries to cover and a wide range of issues to manage, including the welfare of Australians in the region.”
Andrew begins his posting on 14 June and will travel with his wife and two daughters. His son will stay in Canberra to complete year 11 and 12 at boarding school.
Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, has stated Andrew is a career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and is currently Director, Southern, Central and West Africa Section.
“He has previously served overseas as an Exchange Officer with the Canadian Foreign Ministry and First Secretary, Stockholm,” Ms Bishop said.
“Mr Barnes has also worked for the United Nations and non-governmental sector in South Sudan.”
After leaving ANU, Andrew completed a Graduate Diploma from Stockholm University in 1987. He has also served as First Secretary in the Australian embassy in the Swedish capital.
While at ANU, Andrew studied courses including political science, Australian, American and international politics, sociology, history and psychology.
The former Bruce Hall and John XXII College resident says he has never forgotten his three years at ANU, nor the inter-dormitory sporting competitions and residence life.
“Academically it was very interesting, and stimulating without exception,” he recalls.
“I enjoyed the Bachelor of Arts and discovered a few things about ANU which were particularly good.
“It’s a truly national university, which I think helped my current job because we are supposed to represent Australia, and the teachers and students represented every part of Australia. You truly mix with students from all around Australia, and get to know your country better.”
Andrew also noted the university’s strengths in political science and Australian history, and advantage of being near the national institutions, which he visited often as a student.
He says he was privileged to have attended some of Manning Clark’s Australian history lectures, and also have Professor Amin Saikal as his Middle East policy lecturer.
“He was a fantastic lecturer who I have a lot of respect for.”
Andrew also fondly remembers Bruce Hall.
“A lot of my cohort from John XXIII College and Bruce Hall in 1983-84 remain good friends of mine today,” he says.
“I always recommend ANU to people who are thinking of studying, and I recommend college life, especially Bruce Hall.”
College of Arts and Social Sciences Dean, Professor Paul Pickering, congratulated Mr Barnes, and confirmed his appointment demonstrates what is possible after studying at Australia’s national university.