The Inaugural National Australia Indonesia Language Awards (NAILA) 2015

The National Australia Indonesia Language Awards (NAILA) celebrated its inaugural year with an Awards Ceremony and Networking Weekend in Melbourne on 20 – 21 November. Allens hosted the Awards Ceremony on Friday 20 November, with Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen showing of his Bahasa Indonesia in his welcoming remarks, and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Australian Ambassador to Indonesia Paul Grigson sending their congratulations to all participants via video message.

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Photo: Kuntoro Windu

NAILA, an AIYA initiative, aims to reward and foster the development of Indonesian language learning in Australia at all levels through a national speech competition. In its inaugural year, NAILA received over seventy entries across all awards categories – Primary, Junior, Middle School, Senior, Tertiary, Executive and Wild Card – from all over Australia. Entries ranged from “Introduce yourself to a new Indonesian friend” (Primary), to discussions on Indonesian culture and the benefits of learning Indonesian language (Senior), to original songs and an introduction to Balinese dance (Wild Card). Videos of the inaugural awardees will be uploaded to the NAILA website soon.

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Photo: Kuntoro Windu

As Indonesian language learning continues to decline in Australia, NAILA hopes to incentivize language learning and reward high-level proficiency to encourage deeper communication, respect and understanding between our two nations.

Speaking at the Awards Ceremony, Chris Bowen warned that it would be an “irreversible national scandal” if Australia allowed Indonesian studies to cease in this country. The federal shadow treasurer spoke on the “paradox of proximity” putting forth the question: “Can any one name me two countries, anywhere in the world, so close geographically and so different culturally?” Australia and Indonesia are close in proximity, yet so divergent culturally. The study of Indonesian language, Bowen argued, is an important part of improving the bilateral relationship and achieving greater understanding between our two countries. Paul Grigson, Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, echoed this sentiment in a video message: “nothing is more important for cultural understanding than language.”

Dr Dwi Noverini Djenar, Chair of the Department of Indonesian Studies at The University of Sydney, spoke on her experiences as a NAILA judge and how she was blown away with the quality of the entries. Dr Djenar also highlighted the significance of Indonesian language study, but also the importance of having fun and enjoying the language.

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Photo: Kuntoro Windu

The Awards Ceremony was concluded with remarks from Foreign Minister Julie Bishop: initiatives such as NAILA “will lead to a better understanding of our place in the world and develop new perspectives, new insights, new skills and new ideas that will build Australia’s productivity and our prosperity.”

Photo: Kuntoro Windu
Photo: Kuntoro Windu

On Saturday 21 November awardees met with Andre Omer Siregar, Indonesian Consul in the Northern Territory and one of the NAILA judges, who flew down from Darwin to meet with the award holders. He highlighted the importance of cultural exchange and people-to-people links.

This was followed by lunch at the Indonesian Consulate in Melbourne and a poetry reading with the Jembatan Poetry Society. NAILA participants had the opportunity to absorb readings and presentations by expert performers as well as share their own Indonesian language skills, including musical performances by NAILA Executive Awardee John Cheong Holdaway (performing Iwan Fal’s “Bento”) and a traditional Balinese dance performance and lesson by Wild Card Awardee, Jane Ahlstrand.

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Photo: Kuntoro Windu

The weekend concluded with a dinner for the awardees, their families and the NAILA team.

Congratulations to all the participants of the inaugural National Australia Indonesia Language Awards!

Photo: Kuntoro Windu
Photo: Kuntoro Windu

NAILA is supported by The Australia-Indonesia Centre (Gold Sponsor), The Australia-Indonesia Institute, Allens, Asia Institute at the University of Melbourne, The University of Sydney’s Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, Cladtek, La Trobe University, Deakin University, The Asia Education Foundation, The Australian Consortium for ‘In-Country’ Indonesian Studies (ACICIS) and Asialink.