Australia-Indonesia Institute Annual Report
Mission statementChairman's statementBoard membershipMajor activitiesMedia programYouth and sportArtsProfessionsIndonesian languageAustralian cultureCivil Society ProgramAdmin overviewAppendix AAppendix B  

MAJOR ACTIVITIES

Media Program | Youth and sport | Visual and performing arts and arts heritage | Professions and science and technology | Indonesian language and culture studies | Australian culture and English language studies | Civil Society Program

Widening people-to-people contact and understanding in a neighbouring country of over 200 million people is a huge and ongoing task. A commitment to the relationship with Indonesia and a multi-dimensional approach focused on broadening and updating perceptions of Australia in Indonesia and Indonesia in Australia has been a feature of the Australia-Indonesia Institute's program over the period from 1995 to 1999. The Institute remained committed to the ideals of maintaining enduring people-to-people relations between Australia and Indonesia and portraying Australia as a culturally diverse, educationally, scientifically and technologically advanced nation.

As well as continuing with its core people-to-people programs covering youth, education and culture, the key planks for the Institute's activities, particularly since 1997, have centred on the media program and its new Civil Society Program.

The Institute's commitment to media links was consolidated with three senior editors' meetings - in Jakarta in May 1996, in Sydney in December 1997 and in Jakarta in April 1999. At the same time strong emphasis was placed on the journalist scholarship scheme, with 27 awardees completing language training during the period of this report.

The senior editors meetings included a wide and representative range of senior media figures from both nations. For each meeting the agenda involved not just the bilateral relationship but developments in both nations and topics including the rise of the One Nation party in Australia and Indonesia's East Timor policy. The visits by the editors were designed, on each occasion, to include interviews with political figures across the political spectrum. The President of Indonesia (Soeharto in May 1996 and Habibie in April 1999) met with the Australian editors and the Prime Minister, Mr Howard, met with the Indonesian editors in December 1997.

In response to the changing economic and political environment in Indonesia, following the onset of the Asian economic crisis, the May 1998 riots in Jakarta and the resignation of President Soeharto, the Board of the Institute developed and implemented a program designed to strengthen Indonesia's emerging civil society in the post-Soeharto reform era. The program - designed to assist the Institute in its role of widening and improving people-to-people contacts between Australia and Indonesia - was implemented through funding for training, specialist advice and institution/capacity-building. Projects have been as diverse as 'seed-funding' for electoral reform, human rights training, anti-corruption workshops and scholarships to allow 1175 university students in financial difficulties to continue with their studies.

During the years covered by the report the Institute's programs targeted groups and individuals with an interest in a future relationship of substance with each other's country through institutional linkages and personal contacts. To achieve its goals the Institute recognised the importance of developing and building on the knowledge and awareness of the youth of each nation and the need to develop a sound basis on which to improve access for Australians to the cultural diversity of Indonesian society and the opportunities offered by its developing economy. Similarly, the Institute provided opportunities for Indonesians to experience Australia.

The high value placed on these ideals inspired the development of a number of the Institute's programs in the targeted areas of media, youth and education. The Australia Indonesia Youth Exchange Program (AIYEP) continued to be one method for delivering this objective, as were the range of scholarships and exchanges in various program areas. Through AIYEP the Institute provided opportunities each year to 36 young Indonesians and Australians to experience the culture and economic and political development of each other's country.

The Australian Studies program included support of the Australian Studies Centre at the University of Indonesia, an Australian Lecture Series and linkages through the Australian Alumni Association of Indonesia (IKAMA). The single largest Australian Studies project was completed in early 1999 with the launch of the Australian social geography book, Geografi Australia. The launch marked the culmination of four years of research, writing, production, printing, marketing and distribution to 1000 Indonesian schools. The book was produced in close consultation with the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture to ensure it met curriculum requirements and Indonesian teachers were trained in its use.

Support for the Australian Consortium for In-Country Indonesian Studies (ACICIS), the Indonesia web site, and continued support for teachers' scholarships were the key Indonesian Studies program projects. Between 1995 and 1999 the ACICIS project assisted 350 Australian students to undertake a range of tertiary-level one and two semester programs of Indonesian language and cultural studies in Indonesia in collaboration with Indonesian universities. The web site, commenced in April 1999, will eventually provide a complete primary and secondary education focus for Indonesian Studies covering society, environment, mathematics, science, education and arts. Its address is: www.curriculum.edu.au/accessasia/indonesia/index.htm

The Institute's cultural program registered a range of important visual and performing arts and arts heritage programs during the period of the report. One 1999 highlight was joint primary sponsorship with the Queensland Government and Thiess International of the exhibition Indonesian Gold: Treasures from the National Museum, Jakarta, displayed at the Queensland Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of NSW. The project introduced Australian audiences to a sophisticated and creative Indonesian traditional culture and society extending over 12 centuries.

The range of Australian visual and performing arts programs in Indonesia demonstrated the quality, diversity and sophistication of Australian art. One such project was the Richness in Diversity exhibition - a showcase of Australian culture - in Jakarta in April 1999, in cooperation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australia Council.

Ramayana bowl

Installation view of Indonesian Gold: Treasures from the National Museum, Jakarta at the Queensland Art Gallery 26 March - 23 May 1999, showing the Ramayana bowl. (Photograph Richard Stringer)

President Habibie and other leading political figures, including KH Abdurrahman Wahid (elected President on 21 October 1999), praised the activities of the Institute during meetings with board members in Jakarta in August 1998. Members also met with Foreign Minister Ali Alatas.

During the period of this report the Institute continued to support other new initiatives and core activities, many of which are detailed in this report.


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