How to get to Australia … more than 50,000 years ago

Over just the past few years, new archaeological findings have revealed the lives of early Aboriginal Australians in the Northern Territory’s Kakadu potentially as early as 65,000 years ago, from the Kimberley and Pilbara regions of Western Australia by about 50,000 years ago, and the Flinders Ranges of South Australia by around 49,000 years ago.

By Sean Ulm, James Cook University; Alan Cooper, University of Adelaide; Michael Bird, James Cook University; Peter Veth, University of Western Australia; Robin Beaman, James Cook University, and Scott Condie, CSIRO

File 20180509 34038 18ofom4.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Sunset looking across Port Warrender to the Mitchell Plateau on the Kimberley coast. It is in Wunambal Gaambera country. Mark Jones Films (with permission), Author provided

But how was it even possible for people to get to Australia in the first place? And how many people must have made it to Australia to explain the diversity of Aboriginal people today?

In a study published in Quaternary Science Reviews this week, we use new environmental reconstructions, voyage simulations, and genetic population estimates to show for the first time that colonisation of Australia by 50,000 years ago was achieved by a globally significant phase of purposeful and coordinated marine voyaging.

Past environments

Australia has never been connected by dry land to Southeast Asia. But at the time that people first arrived in Australia, sea levels were much lower, joining the Australian mainland to both Tasmania and New Guinea.

Our analysis using new high-resolution mapping of the seafloor shows that when sea levels were 75m or lower than present, a string of more than 100 habitable, resource-rich islands were present off the coast of northwest Australia.

These islands were directly visible from high points on the islands of Timor and Roti and as close as 87km.

This chain of now mostly submerged islands – the Sahul Banks – was almost 700km long. They represented a very large target for either accidental or purposeful arrival.

Northwest Australia showing a now submerged string of islands between Australia and Timor/Roti. The present coastline is shown as a black line. The coastline with sea level 75m lower than present is shown as a grey line. Robin Beaman

How difficult was it to get to Australia?

Combining modelled winds and ocean currents with particle trajectory modelling, we simulated voyages from three sites on the islands of Timor and Roti. This is similar to the approach used to model the movements of wreckage from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

In our model, we simulated the “launch” of 100 vessels from each site on February 1 each year for 15 years. The date was chosen to correspond to the main summer monsoon period when winds are generally blowing to the east-southeast, thereby maximising the chance of successful crossings.

Model results for vessel launches from Timor and Roti, showing ‘accidental’ drift voyaging where only wind and currents affect movement. Yellow dots show the islands closest to Timor/Roti. Scott Condie/Robin Beaman

Model results for vessel launches from Timor and Roti, showing ‘purposeful’ voyaging simulated by paddling. Yellow dots show the islands closest to Timor/Roti. Scott Condie/Robin Beaman

The results clearly indicate that accidental arrival by drifting alone is very unlikely at any time. But the addition of even modest paddling towards the Sahul Banks islands results in a high proportion of successful arrivals over four to seven days. The highest probability of a successful landfall is associated with launching points on western Timor and Roti.

Vessel colour begins to fade after six days of voyaging, indicating likely diminishing success rates. The present coastline is shown in dark grey. The coastline with sea level 75m lower than present is shown in light grey (Animation by Rebecca Gorton, CSIRO).

How many people did it take to colonise Australia?

Researchers have long speculated about how many people originally colonised Australia. Some have argued that Australia must have been colonised by accident, perhaps by just a few people.

Others have suggested a steady trickle of colonists. Estimates of the founding population have ranged from 1,000 to 3,000.

The genetic evidence shows that Australia was colonised in a single phase, perhaps at multiple locations, but with very limited gene flow after initial colonisation.

The diversity of mitochondrial DNA lineages found in Aboriginal populations allows us to estimate the minimum size of the original colonising population. Mitochondrial DNA is only inherited from mothers.

Aboriginal mitochondrial DNA diversity alone represents at least nine to ten separate lineages.

Assuming that every mitochondrial lineage was represented in the founding population by four to five females (such as a family group containing a mother and her sister, and two daughters) the currently known nine to ten lineages would equate to around 36-50 females.

This is a conservative estimate, as founding populations of fewer than ten females per lineage have a low chance of long-term survival due to variations in reproductive success.

If an overall, again conservative, female to male ratio of 1:1 is assumed for the colonising party, the inferred founding population would be around 72-100 people. It was likely much larger (perhaps 200-300) because of the strong potential for related family groups to share similar mitochondrial lineages, which would be underestimated as a single founding lineage.

Clearly, a population of even the minimum estimated size is unlikely to have arrived accidentally on Sahul.

What does it all mean?

A lot of earlier thinking about how people arrived in Australia was based on the assumption that the first modern humans to sweep out of Africa and colonise the distant lands of Australia and New Guinea were somehow more limited in their cognitive and technological capacities than later humans (that is, all of “us”).

Therefore, models routinely assumed that people island-hopped short distances rather than making long journeys, probably ending up in Australia by accident.

Our results show that colonisation of Australia and New Guinea was no accident. Colonisation of Australia was more likely achieved by purposeful and coordinated marine voyaging, undertaken in the knowledge that land existed to the south of Timor/Roti.

The crossing to Australia was two to three times longer than the multiple previous shorter crossings required to reach the islands of Timor and Roti. This last voyage to reach Australia would have required watercraft construction, sailing and navigation technology, planning ability, information sharing and provisions to sustain an open ocean voyage over four to seven days.

Purposeful voyaging on this scale clearly required advanced cognitive, linguistic, symbolic and technological capabilities. Critically, this finding places a unique global time-stamp on the cognitive abilities of our ancestors.

In the same way that we have underestimated the abilities of our human ancestors, we have underestimated the ability of early modern humans to plan, coordinate and undertake large-scale coordinated maritime voyaging across open water to reach Australia. The settling of Australia represents the earliest known maritime diaspora in the world.

The ConversationThis emerging picture of modern humans with advanced maritime capabilities deliberately settling the driest continent on the planet reminds us we still have much to learn about the complexity and adaptability of the First Australians.

By Sean Ulm, Deputy Director, ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, James Cook University; Alan Cooper, Director, Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, University of Adelaide; Michael Bird, ARC Laureate Fellow, JCU Distinguished Professor and Landscapes Theme Leader for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, James Cook University; Peter Veth, Kimberley Foundation Ian Potter Chair in Rock Art and Professor of Australian Archaeology, Centre for Rock Art Research and Management, University of Western Australia; Robin Beaman, Research Fellow, College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University, dan Scott Condie, Senior Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Facebook account manager Anastasia Pavlovic

Welcome back to Spotlight on an AIYA Member! In this regular series, we talk to a different AIYA Member from either Indonesia or Australia to hear their story. Our target this week is former AIYA Web and Video Officer and avid tech supporter Anastasia Pavlovic.

What do you do?

I am currently a Small-Medium Business Account Manager at Facebook in Singapore, helping Australian and New Zealand businesses gain better results from their marketing strategies on the platform. I graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Indonesian Studies and Sociology.

What is your favourite place to visit in Indonesia?

Indonesia has so many ridiculously beautiful places, it is so hard to just pick one! I would have to say that my favourite is a tie between Yogyakarta and the Ijen crater in East Java. Yogyakarta for the rich culture, friendly people and Bakpia; Ijen crater because I’ve never felt so small and intrigued in my life by such a natural landmark.

Most delicious meal?

My all-time favourite meal is sayur asemjagung manis, terong, kacang panjang… it’s such a simple dish but those spices make it taste so good!

What is your favourite Indonesian word?

Matahari. I love the literal translation of this word which illustrates quite an image: Mata = eye, hari = day. The eye of the day!

Fan of any TV shows?

Tetangga Masa Gitu? A show that follows the daily hilarious lives of two couples – one being married for ten years, the other being newly married. Has helped me improve my bahasa gaul!

How did you first become interested in Indonesia?

I’ve been exposed to Indonesia since I was young, given how my mother is Indonesian. It wasn’t until I turned eight when I first went to Indonesia that I actually wanted to become part of this world. When that humidity hit me as I emerged from Soekarno-Hatta Airport, I immediately fell in love with the country.

Although I come from a household with both Serbian and Indonesian languages, I only spoke English at home and ate an interesting fusion of foods. It wasn’t until I was in university that I finally got the chance to properly rekindle my love for Indonesia by learning about the language and culture.

My Indonesian lecturers Bu Novi and Bu Dyah (who are some of the most beautiful, passionate people I’ve ever met!) also made this experience worthwhile.

How did you get involved with AIYA?

After coming back from a short study tour in Batam during my second year, I knew I really wanted to get involved in the Indonesian community. I started to attend a couple of AIYA NSW events, but wanted to get involved even further in the organization. I found a volunteer position open for a Web and Video Officer on the AIYA website, applied and got it! It was great being at the pulse of the organisation, updating the site with information on the various chapters.

Meeting Ada Apa Dengan Cinta? star Nicolas Saputra and Sultan of Yogyakarta Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X are by far the highlights of being part of AIYA.

Any hopes for the bilateral relationship?

Food brings people together. I have a lot of hope that a cool chef will create a cool fusion dish representing the bilateral relationship. I’m thinking a meat pie made of tempe, pavlova made with cendol, or maybe Vegemite and durian on toast!

What do you like most about AIYA?

AIYA provides such a good opportunity for people who love Indonesia to gather together and talk all things Indo! It was inspiring meeting people who were doing incredible things to strengthen the relationship, such as writing books, hosting comedy shows or studying in the other country. It truly shaped my university experience and brought me out of my comfort zone.

Living now in Singapore, I really miss the tight community and all the events! There will always be a soft spot in my heart for AIYA.

Sum up your AIYA member experience in three words.

Exciting, interesting and keren!

Read more AIYA Member Spotlight interviews here!

Raising bilingual children in Indonesia: the strategies

Many parents consider that raising their children to speak more than one language will give their offspring an edge over monolingual kids. To compete in a globalised world, future generations are required to master at least two languages, one of which is spoken internationally.

By Novi Rahayu Restuningrum, Universitas Yarsi

I have raised bilingual children. My children, aged 17 and 11, are proficient in both the Indonesian and English languages and can switch with ease between these for certain topics.

Raising bilingual children: a choice

I always wanted my children to master two languages. I started speaking with my daughter in both English and Indonesian language when she was six years old.

But I often asked myself what was the best way to make my children speak English as well as Indonesians speak in their mother tongue.

I realise that raising children bilingually requires a condition
where my children can learn to speak English without interruption. When I received a scholarship to pursue a PhD in education in Melbourne, Australia, I brought my children with me between 2011 and 2015.

Frequent exposure is the key

In Indonesia, raising children in two languages (or more) is not a new thing. The vast majority of Indonesian people are bilingual or multilingual by default, because they speak at least two languages: Indonesian and their ethnic language (native language). Thus, the practice of acquiring a second language is ingrained, without people planning or thinking about it.

Exposure to language is an important factor in learning a language. Acquiring foreign languages is more difficult than mastering ethnic languages, as the latter are spoken everywhere. Foreign languages are not commonly spoken or heard.

A lot of people learn English in a structured format in classrooms and forums. However, they may acquire knowledge about the language but fail to use the language properly in this formal setting.

Contrast this to ethnic languages that people hear in their daily lives. People start to get exposed to Indonesian language from the time they enter school because the language is used as the medium of interaction in formal contexts. The exposure to ethnic language happens since infancy, with the language being used as a media of communication among family members.

English is a foreign language that the vast majority of Indonesians do not speak. This results in children’s low exposure to the language.

As learning English needs to be done in a structured context, the natural aspect of the language use has decreased. But children can still acquire English, subject to their exposure to the language.

Formal and informal contexts

A bilingual child usually gains her ability to speak two languages through exposure in both formal and informal settings.

In the family context, parents are the key factor.

In mastering English as the second language for children, parents need to provide more contexts for exposing their children to English to ensure the process of learning the language happens naturally.

Here are at least three strategies that parents can implement in raising bilingual children. The strategies are adopted from methods introduced by American linguist Suzanne Romaine in her book Bilingualism.

One parent, one language

The method applies when one of the parents speaks English most of the time (if not all the time) and the other parent speaks Indonesian or an ethnic language.

This will give the children simultaneous natural exposure to both languages. To do this, the parent needs to be competent in English.

Home versus school

Under this method, parents can tell children to speak a certain language in a certain context. For example, children are required to speak English in school, while at home they are encouraged to speak Indonesian. This context-based, one-language strategy may be implemented conversely.

I have seen many parents who are incompetent in English send their children to schools where English is the main language because they are incapable of teaching English at home.

Natural conversion

The third way that parents may choose is providing contexts where both languages (Indonesian and English) are used. Parents themselves switch languages, and they need to do this from when their children are born, so they are exposed to the languages from infancy. Again, to do this, parents need to be able to use English proficiently.

The strategies are there for parents to choose for their children to acquire English without losing their Indonesian and ethnic languages.

The ConversationA phenomenon of children who are exposed to English but are not able to speak local languages properly has prompted debates on the best way to teach English to children as it may later cause communication barriers. No parent wants this to happen. Therefore, they need to be wise in exposing their children to the languages.

By Novi Rahayu Restuningrum, Lecturer in English, Universitas Yarsi

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Submissions open for the ReelOzInd! Australia Indonesia Short Film Competition 2018

Near neighbours should be friends not mysteries!
Short films are a great way to share stories and build understanding.

After the success of ReelOzInd! Australia Indonesia Short Film Competition and Festival in 2016and 2017, we are very excited to announce its return again in 2018.

Watch the Open for Submissions trailer: 29/3

Over the past two years ReelOzInd! has attracted hundreds of entries from both nations, with screenings for live audiences in dozens of cities in Australia and Indonesia. We’ve reached thousands more online with viewers given the opportunity to vote for their favourites to select the People’s Choice Award.

ReelOzInd! was established by the Australia-Indonesia Centre in 2016 to encourage Australians and Indonesians to share their stories. We are unique. There is no other festival that brings Australian and Indonesian film makers together to share their work and stories on the same screen.

One of our awarded filmmakers, Dery Prananda, from Yogyakarta (Director/Producer, ‘Amelis’ [Best Film 2016] & Director/Co-producer ‘Arohuai’ [Co-Best Film 2017]), reflected on the impact ReeOzInd! has had on his career so far.

“ReelOzInd changed my life. For me, ReelOzInd is like home where you can develop yourself. From there, I had many extraordinary opportunities related to filmmaking. Besides my film being screened in many places in Indonesia and Australia, the most important thing is meeting with many people and opening new possibilities in the future.”  

For Blair Harris from Melbourne (Director, ‘Dog and Robot’, Winner Best Animation, 2016), the competition and festival similarly opened up new opportunities for him as a filmmaker and introduced him to some great Indonesian stories.

“Seeing all the great work from Indonesian filmmakers and also collaboration entries alongside my film Dog and Robot up on the big screen at ACMI was amazing. I even got to speak on a panel with the producer of The Matrix, one of my favourite films.”

This year the theme for our competition is YOUTH/ PEMUDA.

In ReelOzInd! 2018 is seeking documentary, fiction and animation short films of up 10 minutes duration, incorporating this years’ theme within the story narrative, or as a visual element in the film.

Awards will be given for Best Film, Best Documentary, Best Animation, Best Fiction and special awards for Best Youth Film (created by a filmmaker 13-18 years old) and Best Collaboration between Australian and Indonesian filmmakers.

Our jury of high-profile Australians and Indonesians from the film industry will be back again to select the best films in each category. These will be screened across Australia and Indonesia from September to December 2018 in our pop-up and travelling festival (bioskop keliling).

A new initiative for ReelOzInd! 2018: ULTRA SHORTS

This year we are also very excited to announce a new companion competition Ultra Shorts. Ultra Shorts are films of up to 30 seconds in duration, to be shared and voted for on our social media platforms. It’s a fresh way to open up filmmaking to younger and emerging creatives, or just anyone with a camera phone and a great idea!

A wonderful feature of ReelOzInd! in 2017 and continuing in 2018 is our open invitation to schools, universities, community groups and film enthusiasts in general to host a pop-up festival screening of their own. In 2017 we loved sharing photos and reports from these events with our community through social media and our website.

ReelOzInd! 2018 is open for submissions 1 April and closing 31 July.

We invite you to visit our website to discover how you can get involved, get your work shown on the big screen across Australia and Indonesia, attend a festival screening or host your own pop-up festival.


1 April 2018 – Submissions open
31 July 2018 – Submissions close
26 September 2018 – Festival Premieres in Melbourne and Yogyakarta
26 September – 31 December 2018 – Travelling and Pop Up Festival in Indonesia and Australia

Best Film – AUD $3,500
Best Collaboration between Indonesian and Australian – AUD $2,500
Best Documentary/Best Animation/ Best Fiction – ea. AUD $2,500
Best Film in Youth category – AUD$1,500
Best Ultra Short – $AUD$1,000

For more information visit:

Island-hopping study shows the most likely route the first people took to Australia

The First Australians were among the world’s earliest great ocean explorers, undertaking a remarkable 2,000km maritime migration through Indonesia which led to the discovery of Australia at least 65,000 years ago.

By Kasih Norman, University of Wollongong

File 20180321 165547 1h6a328.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
The view from Indonesia’s Rote Island towards Australia. Image: Kasih Norman

But the voyaging routes taken through Indonesia’s islands, and the location of first landfall in Australia, remain a much debated mystery to archaeologists.

Our research, published earlier this year in Quaternary Science Reviews, highlights the most likely route by mapping islands in the region over time through changing sea levels.

A disputed route

Some archaeologists have argued for an initial human migration into Australia through New Guinea. This is because islands across northern Indonesia are relatively close together, and people could easily see to the next island they wished to voyage to.

First landfall on Australia has been argued to be both more difficult and less likely than first landfall at New Guinea, as the final crossing distance from Timor to the continental shelf was more than 80km. It was also thought that the Australian landmass was not visible from any Indonesian island.

Despite this, it was proposed that now submerged islands off the Australian continental shelf were visible from Timor. But until recently, computer technology and ocean floor data sets were not developed enough to know for sure.

A drowned continent

When people first migrated to Indonesia, reaching Australia by 65,000 years ago, they found a landscape that looked very different from today. During an ice age known as Marine Isotope Stage 4, which stretched from roughly 71,000 to 59,000 years ago, western Indonesia formed part of the Pleistocene continent of Sunda, while Australia and New Guinea were joined to form Sahul.

The grey area shows the extent of the ice age continents of Sunda and Sahul, much of which is now under water. Image: Kasih Norman

The rise in global ocean levels at the end of the last ice age at around 18,000 years ago flooded continental shelves across the world, reshaping landmasses. This event drowned the ancient continent of Sunda, creating many of Indonesia’s islands, and split the continent of Sahul into Australia and New Guinea.

This means that what is now under the ocean is very important to understanding where the First Australians might have made landfall.

On the horizon

Our new research uses computer analyses of visibility between islands and continents. We included landscape surface height data of regions of the ocean floor that were above sea level – and dry land – during the last ice age.

The powerful computer programs we used work out what a person standing at a particular location can see in a 360 degree arc around them, all the way to their horizon.

Running more than 10,000 analyses allowed us to pinpoint where people could see to, from any location on any island or landmass in the whole of Island South East Asia.

But because we knew that so many Indonesian islands, and so much of Sahul, were drowned at the end of the last ice age, we also included ocean floor (bathymetric) data in our analyses.


We discovered that in the deep past (between 70,000 to 60,000 years ago, and potentially for much longer), people could see from the Indonesian islands of Timor and Rote to a now drowned island chain in the Timor Sea.

From this island chain it was possible to sight the Australian continental shelf, which in the last ice age formed a massive fan of islands extending towards Indonesia. Much of this landscape is now more than 100m below the surface of the Timor Sea.

Regions with visibility between islands and continents during the last ice age are shown by the connective white lines. Dark grey regions represent the now submerged ice age continent of Sahul, light grey shows landmasses above modern sea level. Image: Kasih Norman

As the island chain sat at the midpoint between southern Indonesia and Australia, it could have acted as a stepping-stone for Australia’s first maritime explorers.

To Australia

Including the areas of the ocean floor that were dry land in the last ice age means we were able to show that people could see from one island to the next, allowing them to island-hop between visually identifiable landmasses all the way to northern Australia.

These new findings potentially solve another mystery: all of the oldest archaeological sites for Sahul are found in northwest Australia. If people island-hopped from Timor and Rote they would have arrived on the now submerged coastline close to all of Australia’s most ancient occupation sites, such as Madjedbebe, Nauwalabila and Boodie Cave.

But while we might be closer to understanding where people first reached Australia, signs of the earliest explorers to reach Indonesia have been more elusive.

The ConversationA team of researchers from the Australian Research Council’s new Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH) and their partner institution, Indonesia’s National Centre for Archaeology, have now begun the search on Rote and West Timor for the earliest evidence of the region’s first human maritime explorers, the likely ancestors of the First Australians.

By Kasih Norman, PhD Candidate, University of Wollongong

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Crocoppuccino Party: Q&A with winning ModCon artist Sandy Solihin

A few months ago, Sandy Solihin, a freelance illustrator and artist, was announced as the winner of the ModCon 2017 competition with his entry Crocoppuccino Party, which won by more than 6,500 votes via the Australian Embassy’s Instagram.

Crocoppuccino Party is a playful piece which combines Australia’s unique wildlife with its coffee culture. Sandy shares his insights into the creative process and motivation for creating the piece below.

Tell us about your background as an artist. Why do you create?

Ever since I was a little kid, I was always mesmerized by children books, especially picture books. I couldn’t sit still until my parents bought me one. I spent days reading those books and got carried away in the world of imagination. Those books ignited my creative side which poured out through pencil and paper. It was amazing. Since then, I’ve decided to become an illustrator and enrolled in art school. Unfortunately, in my hometown Bandung, there was no illustration major. I decided to major in graphic design instead. Luckily, my training as a graphic designer has honed my skills as an illustrator as well, so I can continue making beautiful artworks that resonate with audiences on an emotional level. This is my main purpose in creating artwork: to put smiles on people’s faces.

Where are you from, and how does this place influence your art?

I was born, raised and live in Bandung. Growing up in tropical country with a rich biodiversity enriched my knowledge and artistic references from nature. This sprouted my interest in the animal world and I decided to learn more about their behaviour and their respective physiology. Fortunately, this brought me to work for National Geographic Indonesia as a scientific illustrator and opened up possibilities to explore this country even further.

What were the main influences for Crocoppuccino Party?

As an illustrator who has an interest in the animal world, Australia’s biodiversity has never failed to amaze me. More than 80% of Australian plants and animal are unique to Australia and are found nowhere else.

Australia’s passion for coffee has reached Indonesia as well. Both well-crafted coffee which offers a new level of coffee experience and Aussie-influenced coffee houses have spread across my hometown and into Indonesia’s big cities. As a coffee lover this promises me excellent cappucinno every time I need a caffeine fix.

Last but not least, the most memorable experience I had when visiting Australia was its lively and upbeat but laid-back environment. Aussie sure know how to have fun. Each of these three Aussie things remains close to my heart, and inspired me with this artwork.

What do you hope to convey to viewers?

I think the most pleasing thing would be if my artwork inspires other people, from children to adults, to make them love their own biodiversity and culture, and help make them create more art with a positive impact on the world.

How do you think creative exchanges such as ModCon can enhance the bilateral relationship?

I think the relationship between our countries is magnificent. Creative and artistic exchange and collaboration are a perfect approach to further strengthen this relationship and bridge whatever tensions that might exist.

Any future goals?

I want to immerse myself in the many cultures of the world, exploring their value, unique artistic approach and most importantly the people, in a hope to further expand my knowledge and references as an artist. This would train me to make a meaningful art that reach a broader audience. In the future I want to expand into animation as well. I wish I can contribute in the animation industry as a concept artist.

Be sure to follow Sandy on Instagram and find out more about ModCon on the Pop Con Asia website.

Career Champion of culture: AIA finalist Chenaniah ‘Ken’ Darma

Chenaniah ‘Ken’ Darma was a finalist at the Australia Indonesia Association’s Australia Indonesia Awards in the Culture category. Find his responses as a Career Champion below, where he provides insights on his career up until this point and where he might like to head in the future.

Tell us about your background. Where did you begin your career?

I recently completed my studies at Macquarie University, attaining a Bachelor of Marketing and Media. During my time at university, I joined PPIA Macquarie, Macquarie University’s official Indonesian student society where I began my professional journey as an Internal and External Events Organiser. My dream career goal is to utilise my skills and passion for events, marketing and media in a job that allows me to contribute to Australian and Indonesian youth, strengthening existing relations between the two great nations by empowering the next generation of future leaders.

What brought you to connect with Indonesia?

During my childhood I was often confused about my identity as an Indonesian raised in Australia. It wasn’t until I joined PPIA Macquarie, where I developed a meaningful connection with Indonesians. When attended my first welcome gathering event, I was scared to make new friends because I was afraid that I would be different, and it turned out that I was. It wasn’t easy to assimilate with the Indonesian lifestyle when I grew up with only Australian friends, however I remained persistent in encouraging myself to belong to this community because something within kept drawing me back. After a few months I was promoted as one of the organisation’s key Event Organisers with opportunities to oversee events such as Soundquriang 4.

How do you use your Indonesian experience in your current work?

Aside from pursuing a career in events, marketing and media, I am currently leading a non-profit youth group gathering in various locations such as Macquarie Park, Central Park, and the southwest areas of Sydney. Though I am no longer a student at Macquarie University, I still have a heart for the youth community in the area, sharing the resources I have in my hands to empower young Indonesians and Australian-Indonesians to be the best they can be in their studies and social lives.

Why do you think you were successful in finding your current role?

I found my current day job as a Social Media Assistant through a fellow classmate, and hope to develop my skills in marketing communications so that I can be of good use and leverage everything I’ve learned to effectively communicate with Australians and Indonesians both online and offline. My work as a local Youth Leader was an opportunity my father gave me around five years ago when he started an Indonesian church in Macquarie Park. It give me great pleasure to work alongside my parents doing something I’m so passionate about, as their values and support have played a major role in making me who I am today.

What do you enjoy most about Indonesia?

I love living with my family in Indonesia because it allows me to embrace the culture and most importantly, great tasting food. Based on my previous experience working with Indonesians, they are hard-working and very patriotic. Something we could improve on could possibly be our communication skills and our willingness to work hand-in-hand with other nations.

What are your thoughts on the future of the bilateral cultural relationship?

It is evident that a strong Australian-Indonesian relationship exists among student-run Indonesian entertainment events. Indonesian student societies can be found in almost every mainstream university, particularly in New South Wales and Melbourne. Indonesian high school graduates leave their families and live abroad for the first time in their lives. For students who want more out of their university experience are eager to achieve something great for Australia and Indonesia, or just want to make Indonesian friends, joining your university’s Indonesian student society is one of the best things an Indonesian student can ever do. Entertainment events such as PPIA Macquarie’s Soundquriang has embodied what it means to be an Indonesian living abroad among fellow Australians and embracing dual cultures.

For the past four years, both Indonesian and Australian-Indonesian students have worked hand-in-hand to liaise with Indonesia’s greatest music artists and cultural performers such as Suara Indonesia, host over 1000 delegates, and donate up to $5,000 to Yayasan Tangan Pengharapan, an Indonesian charity that seeks to provide support to rural communities in NTT province. This particular event was supported by our Consulate General, reminding us that we were doing a good thing for Indonesia and Australia. Events like this really make a difference in our world.

What advice would you offer youth?

My advice to young Australians and Indonesians is to acknowledge existing barriers that exist and do everything you can to break them. Also, take every opportunity you can get to serve your local Indonesian-Australian community whether that be inside or outside of university. When you complete your studies you want the personal satisfaction of knowing you did everything you possibly could for Indonesia and Australia as a student – when sometimes all you have is your determination to succeed and friends to support you along the way.

Given the opportunity again, what would you do differently?

I wouldn’t have changed a thing as each experience, whether positive or negative, has played a major role in my personal and professional development and understanding of Australian-Indonesian relations.

Follow Ken’s Youth Group on Instagram, or take a read of other Career Champion interviews with AIA finalists.

Career Champion Snapshot: AIA Awards Food Winner Robert Chong

Robert Chong is an expert in food exports and trade, and is the winner of the Australia Indonesia Awards 2018 under the category of Food. He features this week in another AIYA Career Champion profile. (Catch up on previous Career Champion interviews here.)

Robert was born in Indonesia and was educated in Australia, studying accountancy and economics at University of Queensland, before marrying and moving to Sydney for work. In the 1960s he worked in a meat exporting company as Export Manager & Cost Accountant, before deciding to gain further experience in exporting by working in partnership with a meat broker, Jack Fruitman & Co, to source and export Australian frozen beef cuts and offal, veal and lamb to USA, UK and European markets. Finally in 1967, Robert and his brother John formed Commodore Trading Co.

Robert Chong (left) giving a speech at the ComTrad Anniversary Luncheon.

What do you do?

Because I am an Indonesian born, educated in Australia, the products we specialise and sell are important for Indonesia.

We are still very active in dealing with Indonesia. We have to follow Indonesian government regulations and policy, along with being flexible and understanding.

Why do you think you have found success?

My current job is my life. I believe in what I am doing with full passion.

What do you enjoy the most about working in relation to Indonesia?

To be able to relate to the two cultures, I was born Indonesian but educated and worked in Australia.

Thoughts on the future of the Australian-Indonesian relationship in the food industry?

I think the future of the field in which I work is very much in need of Indonesia in the form of perishable goods, meat (beef, lamb, goat), dairy products and special kinds of fruit and vegetables, as well as wines for the hospitality market.

What advice would you offer youth?

Prepare to learn the culture and the way the two sides do business, and to be patient, understanding and tolerant.

Given the opportunity again, what would you do differently?

I would do nothing differently.

Find Robert on LinkedIn, and keep an eye out for more Career Champion interviews with AIA finalists in the coming weeks.

Interview with My Kitchen Rules winners and AIA finalists Tasia and Gracia Seger

A few years ago, Melbourne’s Tasia and Gracia Seger won My Kitchen Rules. Now, they answer some quick-fire questions for us after being nominated for the Australia Indonesia Association Awards 2018 (in the Food category of course!).

Photo: Tasia and Gracia Seger

Tell us a little about your background. How did you come to apply for MKR?

We both were born in Jakarta before moving to Darwin, India and now Melbourne. Our grandma and our relatives are still living in Indonesia and we often return to Indonesia to visit them – and of course for the amazing food!

I (Tasia) completed my degree in Psychology before we entered My Kitchen Rules (MKR), while Gracia completed her Master in Biomedical Health Science. While we both took different career paths, we always had a passion for food. When we finished our studies, it was the perfect time for both of us to apply for the show. Our time being on the show and winning the competition allowed us to be even more confident that we both wanted to pursue our careers in the food industry.

What’s life like post-MKR?

Since the winning the show, we have been focusing on and pursuing opportunities in the food industry. We travel around Australia and Asia doing food demonstrations, working with food brands on recipe development and food contents, private catering, pop-up restaurants and have launched our own brand of satay sauce. We are also opening our first restaurant in Melbourne called Makan in April or May, serving Indonesian food to all.

Photo: Tasia and Gracia Seger

Why do you think you have found success in your current culinary ventures?

It has been two years since we started running our own venture and working on our brand to experience the food business. We think we are successful in our business venture due to the fact that we are sisters, hence we understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. And also our same passion, goals and dream for food.

What do you love most about Indonesia?

Indonesia is where we are from, hence it will always be a part of us. We love its food, people and its diverse and rich culture.

Any hopes for the bilateral relationship (and food)?

We think that it will be stronger in the near future and will continue to be so. This is merely due to the fact that there is more awareness of and exposure to Indonesian food in Australia – with Indonesian festivals and the Satay Festival to name a few.

Photo: Tasia and Gracia Seger

What advice would you offer youth?

Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone, take risks and most of all enjoy both positive and negative experiences, as they will always lead towards more learning and self-development.

What would you do differently?

Apply for My Kitchen Rules sooner!

See what the MKR sisters been cooking on Instagram, Facebook and their website. Keep an eye out for more Career Champion interviews with AIA finalists in the coming weeks!

Champion of Indonesian ethnomusicology Professor Margaret Kartomi (Feature)

Margaret Kartomi is an ethnomusicologist, researcher and Professor of Music at Monash University. She is also a finalist in the Research category at the Australia Indonesia Awards 2018, organised by the Australia Indonesia Association (AIA) in NSW. An expert on the music of Sumatra, Margaret has received an Order from the Government of Lampung for her Sumatra research, was given the title Ratu Berlian Sangun Anggun (Beautiful Queen Jewel), and kindly has offered to share her journey as a Career Champion.

Where did you begin your career?

Source: Monash University

I first became interested in Indonesia at age nine in Adelaide, where my Quaker parents invited Adelaide’s first Indonesian Colombo Plan students to our home for lunch on Sundays. I fell in love with Javanese gamelan music when, as a music student aged 18 at the University of Adelaide, I wrote a thesis for my BA on that wonderful musical tradition.

After obtaining my doctorate of philosophy in ethnomusicology at Humboldt University in Berlin in 1968, I was employed in the Department of Music at Monash from 1969, first as a Research Fellow, then as a Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader, and from 1989-1999 and 2001- 2003 as Professor and Head of the Department of Music.

What brought you to connect with Indonesia?

I connected with Indonesia due to my family’s interest and my meeting with Indonesian Colombo Plan students in Adelaide, one of whom – Hidris Kartomi of Banyumas – I married. My interest deepened as I wrote my doctoral thesis at Humboldt University in Berlin and I accepted an Indonesian-oriented teaching and research job at Monash from 1969.

My husband and I carried out Australian Research Council-funded fieldwork almost every year from 1971 in different parts of Indonesia, and over the decades I published five books and hundreds of academic articles on aspects of Indonesian music and dance. With Javanese gamelan lecturer Poedijono we presented annual concerts attended by the general public and thousands of primary and secondary students throughout Victoria. I realised that I and my students and colleagues needed an archive in which to house all the field recordings, musical instruments, and other artefacts that we collected on our field research trips.

So in 1975 I established the Music Archive of Monash University (MAMU), which contains many musical instruments, puppets, masks, textiles and other artefacts. Many of my students as well as other collectors donated their Indonesian music and dance recordings and videos and other collected items to MAMU, which became a substantial archive of Indonesian and other cultural artefacts.

How do you use your Indonesia experience in your current work?

I am still a Professor of Music at Monash (now in my 48th year) where I supervise graduate students’ theses and interns. Each intern spends a semester in our Archive learning archival and museological skills which are useful to them in the workplace later on. I also remain Founding Director of MAMU, which is located in a suite of eight rooms on the fourth floor of the Menzies Building (68) at Monash Clayton, where we welcome visitors, including AIYA readers, if interested.

Why do you think you were successful in getting the position?

I likely succeeded in obtaining my job at Monash because I have always been enthusiastic about the marvellously varied music culture of Indonesia, and because my husband and I enjoyed travelling around the islands of Indonesia photographing, videoing, recording and researching the music, dance and theatre and collecting the musical instruments and textiles. I have also always enjoyed teaching and supervising students’ research.

What do you enjoy most about Indonesia?

I love the warmth, politeness and generosity of the Indonesian people of all ages, especially in the villages, and talking to them about their fascinating arts and life achievements and problems. I also love durian and all the other fantastic fruits of Indonesia, the tremendous variety of lauk pauk, the tropical weather, and the beautiful scenery of the islands.

Thoughts on the future of the bilateral relationship?

Monash is planning at this moment to convert the Music Archive of Monash University into Australia’s first Gallery of Musical Instruments and Artefacts, most of which are from Indonesia and other parts of Asia. It will comprise special displays of musical artefacts from Lampung, Aceh, Riau Islands, Java, Bali and many other parts of Indonesia, serve as a gateway to Monash Clayton, and welcome Indonesian and other Asian students to Monash.

From 2018, the Monash Faculty of Arts will fully fund annual trips to Indonesia for thousands of Australian students as part of the GIG – Global Immersion Program – in order to introduce them to Indonesian culture and boost their interest in learning Indonesian language and culture. This mass program will not only impact university students and their families but will boost the relationship between Australians and Indonesians at a national level.

What advice would you offer youth?

Young Australian students should feel free to study the HASS/arts subjects related to Indonesia as well as the STEM subjects when they come to university, for there are bound to be jobs in the future for committed students as they graduate and enter the job market. Australia and Indonesia are close neighbours and both governments and peoples are increasingly realising how necessary we are to each other, how we can benefit from collaborating in many fields of endeavour, and how Indonesia’s economy is predicted to be one of the five top world economies by 2030.

Indonesian students who want to study in Australia should study the English language well in order to gain a place in an Australian university. You may wish to study Australian society and promote better relations between our two countries, or study the other HASS or STEM subjects and work to improve Indonesia’s economy and cultural opportunities in future.

Given the opportunity again, what would you do differently?

Nothing! I have enjoyed and expect to continue to enjoy a wonderful life, enriched by my involvement with the people and the arts of Indonesia and Australia.

Discover more about music at Monash here, and keep an eye out for more Career Champion interviews with AIA finalists in the coming weeks.