It was not long ago Southeast Asia saw Australia’s foreign policy as being too closely hitched to that of the U.S. But a gathering of regional leaders in Melbourne this week shows how Canberra wants to carve its own path.

The leaders of every Association of Southeast Asian Nations member, bar Myanmar, will be in Australia for a three-day summit beginning Monday to commemorate 50 years of relations between Australia and the regional bloc.

The meeting follows a concerted effort by Australia’s center-left Labor government to boost ties with ASEAN. Prior to that, Australia was largely seen by the mostly nonaligned region as following Washington’s lead as relations with Beijing deteriorated. And while Canberra has heeded U.S. calls to adopt a more proactive approach in Southeast Asia, it has also begun to show that Australia intends to become a reliable partner in its own right.