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I am pleased to report that, although the past year has not been without problems for the bilateral relationship, the activities of the Australia Indonesia Institute in 19992000 continued to generate productive and mutually enriching relationships between the people of Australia and Indonesia.
|Australian Indonesia Institute Chairman, Mr John Reid AO, receives the Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB) tiepin from Rector, Professor Ir Lilik Hendrajaya.|
Indonesia's moves towards democracy, strongly encouraged by Australia, have opened new and exciting opportunities to pursue the Institute's aims. An important challenge for us has been to respond appropriatelywith creativity and fresh perspectivesto the new Indonesia.
Our civil society program, initiated in 1998, continued to be a valuable mechanism for developing projects to support links between Indonesia's vigorous civil society and our own.
The strains in the government to government relationship in late 1999 highlighted the importance of the Institute's ongoing endeavours to assist in the development of a broad, robust and contemporary relationship.
As a consequence, the board resolved to re-examine its activities and the relevance of its traditional projects in light of the changed times.
Against this background, in March 2000, the board made a very useful visit to Indonesia. We held discussions with a wide range of ministers, officials and civil society leaders in Indonesia. A highlight was an hour-long meeting with President Abdurrahman Wahid, during which there was a very positive exchange about relations between our two countries.
Also in March, I led a senior business delegation visit to Jakarta to underline to President Wahid and his senior economic ministers the importance of commercial and trade ties between our two countries.
In recognition of the importance of maintaining a two-way flow of accurate and relevant information about Australia and Indonesia in our two countries, the Institute provided nine scholarships to Australian journalists in 19992000 to undertake intensive in-country Indonesian language training. We sponsored two Indonesian journalists to undertake three-month work placements in Australia. We sponsored in-country residencies for three Australian artists. The Institute also facilitated study and speaking tours to Australia by several influential Indonesian visitors.
The Institute focused on a number of education-related activities. In the context of seeking to nurture an understanding of Australia in Indonesia, we introduced a reciprocal element into our teacher scholarship program by providing in-country scholarships for teachers from Indonesia. We sponsored the development of an award-winning interactive web site for primary and secondary school teachers and students of Indonesia. Given that Indonesian is the second most popular Asian language taught in Australian schools, the web site is an excellent means for reaching a wide and receptive young Australian audience. We also supported the outreach program of the Australian Studies Centre in the University of Indonesia and the development of the Australian Alumni Association of Indonesia (IKAMA).
I have been greatly encouraged by the large number of creative and innovative project proposals that the Institute has received from Australians and Indonesians intent on enhancing engagement between our countries.
Although the Institute's modest budget can fund only a select number of these, the quality and diversity of proposals reflects genuine and growing relationships between the people of our two countries.
Several of the small innovative projects which the Institute has supported have proven of interest to AusAID. I am pleased that we have had a very productive relationship with AusAID and that we have been able to refer some proposals to it for consideration. Notably, AusAID has agreed to financially support Institute scholarships for university students in Indonesia in the coming financial year.
I wish to thank my fellow board members for their commitment and enthusiasm over the past year. The Secretariat Director and Australian Cultural Counsellor in Jakarta have provided valuable advice and support.
I would also like to welcome new board member, Mr Philip Flood, AO, former Ambassador to Indonesia, whose expertise in and long friendship with Indonesia will be an asset to the Institute.
John Reid AO
AUSTRALIA INDONESIA INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 19992000
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