Australia has rewarded Myanmar for its progress on human rights by extending defence ties and offering extra support for trade and investment.
Human rights activists, who are holding rallies outside the Myanmar embassy and Parliament House in Canberra on Monday, say the two countries are ignoring human rights violations.
President Thein Sein, the first head of state from Myanmar to visit Australia since 1974, met with Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Canberra for wide-ranging talks.
The former military general turned civilian ruler told reporters at a joint media conference with Ms Gillard he recognised human rights concerns but said his country was making the "transition to peace".
"What we are undertaking has no precedent in modern times," the president said.
Ms Gillard said there was "much to do" in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, to progress human rights and national reconciliation.
"But we have been very admiring of the remarkable amount of progress ... and we are optimistic of further progress," she said.
The prime minister announced a $20 million two-year aid program, as well as the posting of a resident defence attache and a trade commissioner in Yangon.
Ms Gillard said that while the defence attache position did not mean defence ties had been "normalised" with the former military junta, it was a vital first step and could lead to joint training in the future.
"We will consider further proposals in the future including training," she said.
The $20 million aid program includes funding for the Myanmar Human Rights Commission as well as a visit by Myanmar ministers to Australia to draw on the experience of mining experts.
Mining is considered vital to the Asian nation's future, but there are concerns about corruption, environmental safeguards and communities being displaced.
The new Australian trade commissioner in Yangon is Mark Wood, a senior Austrade official who has worked in South Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand.
"Myanmar is an emerging economy with extensive natural resources, a growing population and numerous opportunities for collaboration with Australian companies," Austrade chief Bruce Gosper said in a statement.
"Austrade's role will be to help establish commercial relationships with this strategic market, forecast to grow at over six per cent in the current financial year."
Mr Wood takes up his post in May.