By December 2018, the 'Supporting the Rules-Based Order in Southeast Asia' project or SEARBO, was underway with an initial phase of activities funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which focused on:
- electoral dynamics in Indonesia and the Philippines
- democratic and judicial reform options in the ‘new Malaysia’
- and a major conference on entrenched illiberalism in mainland Southeast Asia
The work was conducted in close partnership with a range of partners across Southeast Asia — and with academics from other universities elsewhere in the world. These partnerships included academics from Ateneo de Manila University, UC-San Diego, University of Canberra, Centre for International and Strategic Studies (Jakarta), Gadjah Mada University (Jogjakarta), University of Indonesia, University of Malaysia, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, University of Michigan, University of the Philippines-Diliman, Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University (Jogyakarta), Sunway University (Petaling Jaya), University of Western Australia, and University of Yangon.