‘What is most rewarding to me is pursuing Australia’s interests across a diverse range of issues in our region’, says Katy Lin, First Secretary, Political and Economic, at the Australian Embassy in Bangkok. She covers an important set of regional issues, from human trafficking, to challenges in the South China Sea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. ‘My job is to advocate for what Australia sees as important. I work closely with Thailand and other partners in the Indo–Pacific region to promote ways to keep our region safe, stable and prosperous,’ Katy says.
Katy, who was born in Taiwan and grew up in Brisbane, is a lawyer by training. She joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 2006 after a role at the Queensland Supreme Court, where she was encouraged to pursue her passion for international relations. ‘I wanted to continue contributing to public policy, but with an international dimension’, Katy says. A few years later she was posted to New York to work on the UN Security Council Campaign team that led Australia’s successful bid for a seat in 2013.
‘…together with Thailand, we have been working closely with ASEAN countries on practical ways to make our region more stable and secure.
Katy is now seven months into her job in Bangkok. ‘It is a fascinating time to be serving at our embassy in Bangkok, and a real privilege to be working with partners such as Thailand on key strategic issues. Many such issues require regional solutions, and together with Thailand, we have been working closely with ASEAN countries on practical ways to make our region more stable and secure.’
Katy also works to establish strong personal connections between Australians and the people of Thailand through the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan. ‘We look for opportunities for young Australians to study or further develop their professional skills in Thailand, so when they return to Australia they’ll have a richer appreciation and understanding of our region’, she says.
The issues Katy covers are varied: one day she’ll find herself on the Thai–Myanmar border at a refugee camp, or co-hosting an ASEAN–Australia workshop with officials from across Southeast Asia, as well as making preparations for the annual Australian Alumni Awards in Bangkok.
Katy recognises that personal relationships are key to all of the issues she works on. Apart from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she also works closely with colleagues from other Australian agencies at the embassy, such as the Australian Federal Police, Department of Defence and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to coordinate Australia’s approach to key strategic issues.
Not only does Katy juggle a busy job at one of our busiest posts, she’s also raising two young children, with a very supportive spouse. Balancing these responsibilities is a part of her career as a diplomat, and what she believes ‘represents the reality of diplomacy in the 21st century’. Katy is also proud of her Asian heritage and believes that Australia’s multicultural profile is one of its strengths. ‘I think countries like Thailand appreciate Australia’s diversity. They see that we are an open-minded society that values Asia and the rich and innovative culture it brings’, she says.