Q&A with “Angkot dan Bus Minangkabau” author David Reeve (Part 2)

David Reeve’s new book, Angkot dan Bus Minangkabau: Budaya Pop & Nilai-Nilai Budaya Pop, translated by Australia-based linguist and lecturer Iskandar P. Nugraha, reveals the colour and complexity of this aspect of Minangkabau pop culture in vibrant and entertaining fashion. We talked with both to find out more about their new work. You can read the first half of the interview here.

What do you hope to achieve with the book’s publication?

David: I am just delighted to make a record and provide some analysis of this very lively, creative and fun cultural phenomenon. I’m concerned that it is in danger of disappearing. For example the wonderfully decorated Padang city buses have almost all gone now that the Trans Padang bus service has been introduced … from a very lively popular art form they are now almost extinct. The number of angkot are also declining, down to about 2000 now from some 2200 a few years ago. Cheap credit for motorcycles has taken away some of the clientele. And online alternatives like Gojek and Grab haven’t started yet in Padang, but are most likely to come.

And further still, although outsiders are very impressed by the angkot of Padang, the angkot are not well-regarded by Padang authorities, seen as transgressive and rather wild. Current moves to ‘clean up’ Padang may affect the angkot too. Whereas in Manila, the very colorful and distinctive jeepneys are seen as an asset for city tourism. So as well as drawing attention to this form of popular culture in West Sumatra, I hope to stimulate interest in such from of decoration across the archipelago, and just possibly to help the angkot to be more appreciated in their home city (if that is not aiming a bit too high).

Iskandar: Given the current situation of angkot and buses of Minangkabau, I am totally with David that we should appreciate this West Sumatra icon of popular culture as such. This is the first publication that I know of which focuses on discussing the angkot as a cultural phenomenon and I hope it paves the way for further research in this area. Furthermore, the bilingual layout of the book and word lists for Minang, Indonesian and English should make it an invaluable teaching resource and accessible to a wide audience.

What has the response from readers been like so far?

Iskandar: We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response from readers and publication reviews such as Jawa Pos and Republika but my proudest moment as a translator came when hearing from a local Minang while in West Sumatra. The young man from Bukittinggi said that he enjoyed the Indonesian translations very much and found it very accurate. He said, ‘The one who did the translations must have a very good understanding of Minangkabau culture.’

Tell us about the book tour in Indonesia – what was the response from bedah buku attendees?

Our original book tour schedule was to begin at Bandung Book fair with our publisher showcasing two new books: David’s angkot book and Peter Carey’s history of corruption in Indonesia book. There was obviously some political backlash surrounding Peter’s book and the venue cancelled our event. So while the publisher set about rescheduling our tour, David still managed to attend our book fair stand for a meet and greet with the fans.

After a 12 day wait, we finally got on the road. Our tour covered Java, Sumatra and Bali taking place at universities, cafés, libraries and bookshops (Kedai Tjikini Jakarta, Togamas Affandi bookshop Yogyakarta and C20 library Surabaya). Universities we visited included State University of Padang, Airlangga University of Surabaya, Brawijaya University of Malang, Wisnuwardhana University of Malang and Ngurah Rai University in Denpasar.

Among public figures appearing on our discussion panels were Indonesian LGBT campaigner and linguist expert Dr Dede Oetomo, well-known writer Seno Gumira Ajidarma, West Sumatran historian Zul Asri, Maya Ardiani and university academic Ary Budhi and Dr Kustyarini. The tour events were varied in format such as general lectures, book discussions and presentations. Kompas and Surya Malang published enthusiastic articles about the tour in Jakarta and Malang. David was also interviewed by local television in Jakarta.

Attendees at a book discussion in Padang. Photo: Iskandar P. Nugraha

In the towns in Indonesia we visited for the book tour, the responses were amazing. The events were always full, mostly by university students, academics and journalists. In some places like Jakarta, the event attracted people from varied backgrounds and ages, such as students of urban transport, artists, writers and so on. The questions were also varied. As online transport was becoming a hot issue during the book tour, some of of the audience were throwing questions around that issue too.

It has been planned that the second book tour for other Indonesian cities will held in the coming month of August 2017.

What’s next for you both?

There are a number of projects for us to go after this. Most likely we’ll get straight back to the long awaited biography of famous and respected Indonesian Chinese historian Ong Hok Ham. We have been working on this for sometime now. After that perhaps some more work on the Indonesian diaspora in far off-countries like South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname and New Caledonia, formed centuries ago by particular aspects of the colonial situation.

Q&A with “Angkot dan Bus Minangkabau” author David Reeve (Part 1)

David Reeve is well-known not only within the ranks of Australian academics of Bahasa Indonesia, but also as a researcher and expert on Indonesian culture. His new book, Angkot dan Bus Minangkabau: Budaya Pop & Nilai-Nilai Budaya Pop, translated by Australia-based linguist and lecturer Iskandar P. Nugraha, reveals the colour and complexity of this aspect of Minangkabau pop culture in vibrant and entertaining fashion. We interviewed both to find out more about their new work.

David, what is Angkot dan Bus Minangkabau all about?

Witty words and phrases, bright colours, pictures and symbols – these are the elements in a tradition of decoration of various kinds of transport in different parts of Indonesia: becaks, bajajs, trucks, bemos, buses and passenger vans (angkot) … sometimes combined with booming music. The trucks of the north coast of Java are famous for sexy or pious pictures plus snappy phrases. Buses north and south of Yogyakarta are often covered with big pictures and a range of phrases and slogans. The angkot of Medan and Makassar are sometimes quite boldly decorated. But the peak of all this decoration is found in West Sumatra, particularly on the fabulously decorated angkot of the city of Padang, and in a range of buses, large and small, including Padang city buses (now disappearing), and intercity and interprovincial buses. The book Angkot dan Bus Minangkabau is an attempt to record, celebrate and analyse this dramatic and fascinating phenomenon of popular art, popular culture and popular values.

What was the main impetus behind the writing of the book?

The first impetus came from my career as a teacher of Indonesian over several decades. I am always interested in dramatic and memorable language, language that packs a punch – language that I can use in Indonesian classes. I’ve found some terrific language in signs, posters, billboards and ads of all kinds, in print media, radio, television and the internet. I went to Padang in 2006 for a wedding and was bowled over by the angkot, these moving works of art flying up and down the city streets, and started recording the language decorations on them. Then I went to Bukittinggi and realised that the buses have their own forms of decoration as well, with big pictures more prominent. I thought this was all so dynamic, creative and fun that it was worth recording. Eventually the notes, taken over several years and several visits, became the core of the book.

Tell us about the writing process – what kind of research did you do? Where, with whom?

My research started with recording the language, words and phrases, on angkot and buses, not always easy as they tend to fly past at a considerable speed. Then the greater sophistication of mobile phones allowed me to take pictures as well, so I had a rapidly growing corpus of words and phrases on the one hand (in various languages, mainly English, Indonesian and Minangkabau), and an expanding collection of pictorial decorations on the other. I added to the collection on the occasions I could make short visits to West Sumatra … so the research was from a collection of short visits of a few days, but over about six years initially.

Iskandar and David at the book’s launch and panel discussion in Jakarta. Photo: Komunitas Bambu

I was really only intending to make a collection of teaching materials, but as the word bank and picture collection grew, I began to see that there were very specific themes recurring in the data … and that these themes represented various values, and further that the values endorsed there were very different from the ‘standard’ or ‘official’ version of Minangkabau values. I came to see the popular culture expressed on the angkot and buses as showing a counter-culture, in opposition to official values. So I started with a language collection but ended, almost despite myself, writing something more like sociology and ethnography – based on a corpus of language items.

For the first few years this was more like a personal hobby, but in the later few years I realised I needed help, especially with the Minangkabau language of course. So various individual Minangs helped out as research assistants, and I established a good contact with the Universitas Negeri Padang, where several staff and students helped, particularly in the last couple of years when it became clear that this was to be a book rather than a set of teaching materials. In Australia, Iskandar P. Nugraha helped in many ways, far beyond the very good translation he did. It is a bilingual book, with English on the left-hand page, and Indonesian on the right. And it has about 300 pictures.

Iskandar, tell us about your role as translator?

I’ve been living in Australia for over 20 years now. During that time I’ve worked with UNSW, USYD, NSW Department of Education, ABC and SBS and other Australian academics in various roles from lecturer and editor to voice over artist and actor. Working in these various environments has given me a diverse experience.

David and I have a history of working together; while at UNSW I assisted David with the development of the communicative language material with an emphasis on bahasa gaul (street language) and other informal language. I was also involved in the editing and translation of David’s 2013 book Golkar of Indonesia: An Alternative to the Party System. The Indonesian edition was also published by Komunitas Bambu with title Golkar sejarah yang hilang: akar pemikiran & dinamika. With the Angkot book, initially I was assisting David with the planning, research and collation of material both in Australia and Indonesia. I had already become quite immersed in the project so when the publisher suggested the book be bilingual, and David insisted that I was the best person to translate, it was rather exciting. My understanding of bahasa gaul was essential for this book.

You can read the second part of this interview next week.

Career Champion: cricket enthusiast Bruce Christie

The Australia Indonesia Awards celebrate the contributions of those who provide inspiration and enhance understanding between Australians and Indonesians. AIYA is chronicling the achievements of these Career Champions in a series of interviews with this year’s finalists. Bruce Christie, a proponent of cricket in Eastern Indonesia, is this week’s interviewee.

Photo: Bruce Christie

Tell us a little about your early career.

I studied Veterinary Science at the University of Queensland, living at International House in St Lucia. I worked in private veterinary practices in Gympie and Caboolture before beginning work with the NSW government in 1982.

I was appointed to the position of Australian Animal Health Advisor with the Eastern Islands Veterinary Services Project, an AusAID/GOI project from 1989 to 1992, and returned as the Project Leader for the second phase from 1995 to 1998. I was based in Kupang, NTT.

I was appointed the NSW Chief Veterinary Officer in 2002 and now hold the position of Deputy Director General Biosecurity and Food Safety within the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

What brought you to connect with Indonesia?

In 1989 I applied for a position with the Eastern Islands Veterinary Services Project (EIVSP). I was successful and moved to Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, for three years. I then returned frequently to Indonesia on short-term assignments for the same project before returning again as team leader in 1995. Following my return to Australia in 1998 I continued to work in Indonesia through projects with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

It was during our second term in Indonesia that I started to teach young Indonesians to play cricket. Working with the Nusa Tenggara Timur Cricket Club, we picked five of the best players to participate in a cricket tour to Bali to challenge the Bali International Cricket Club. To cut a long story short, we lost but were competitive. The group (consisting of Soni Hawoe, Melvin Ndoen, Yeri Rosongna, Bernadus Bena and Zack Awang) went on to become the founding members of Indonesian cricket. Soni, for example, is now General Manager for Persatuan Cricket Indonesia (PCI) and the others are still employed by PCI and the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Since 2014 we’ve had some great success in reinvigorating cricket in NTT. We’ve taught cricket to many children at primary and secondary schools and at universities as well as other young adults. The NTT men’s team recently came third at the Indonesian national games, PON 2016. This was the first time that cricket had been included in PON and the first time an NTT team has won a medal at PON. So unusual was this that the Governor of NTT gave each of the cricketers a house!

I believe that sport provides many opportunities for cross-cultural exchange and socio-economic development and we have already demonstrated proof of this. Our original group are good examples. They all have jobs and families, and they have been to many different countries as a result of playing in or managing cricket teams. They have also passed their knowledge on to another generation of Indonesians who are now paid to play and participate in the management of cricket, all of whom believe in the importance of Australia and Indonesia being friends.

Read more about our plan for cricket in the region on the NTTCC website.

Tell us about your current occupation.

I am the Deputy Director General Biosecurity and Food Safety with the NSW Department of Primary Industries. Biosecurity is all about protecting our economy, environment and community from pests, diseases and weeds and food safety is about protecting people from food related illnesses, both of which and are extremely important in both Australia and Indonesia.

I was very lucky to live and work in Indonesia, particularly eastern Indonesia, for over 10 years. During that time I made many friends and hope I was able to help some of the people of Indonesia, by working in my professional capacity with Indonesian government officials and farmers to help develop their livestock production systems and in my private capacity to develop cricket.

I am also very grateful to Indonesia for what I learned while I was there as it has helped me in both my career and life in general. The skills I learned are many and include: learning a new language, learning to see life from different perspectives, to understand what it’s like to be a minority, and to manage projects and to deliver outcomes, sometimes in difficult situations.

Photo: NTTCC website

What do you enjoy the most about working in Indonesia?

My Indonesian friends, the variety of cultures that exist in Indonesia in relative harmony, singing Indonesian love songs at karaoke, Indonesian food, the variety of different environments that exist across Indonesia, the surf, fishing and snorkelling.

What are your thoughts on the future of the Australian-Indonesian relationship in sport?

Sport offers a great way to improve cross cultural awareness between our countries and within each country as well as providing socio-economic benefits to those who participate.

Cricket is an international game, played across the world. This opens up opportunities for players to travel the world and to see how others live. It teaches individuals physical skills that can help to keep both children and adults healthy. It teaches skills that are applicable to life in general, such as living and working within a set of rules that apply to everyone. It teaches respect for the law and the umpire. It teaches teamwork as well as praising individual effort. It teaches respect within a team and between teams. It teaches religious tolerance and it offers the opportunity for raising socio-economic levels within communities.

What advice would you offer to youth interested in working in sport?

If you get the opportunity to travel or live and work in another country, grab it with both hands and make the most of it.

Go with an open mind and heart. Learn what makes us similar but also recognise and learn to understand the differences that exist. Being different isn’t wrong, it’s just different. No one has the answer for everything and there are usually a number of different ways of doing things.

Travel! See as much as you can while you are there and make sure you keep in touch with the friends that you make when you return. Be generous. You are in a very privileged position being able to spend some time in a foreign country. Be respectful of the cultures you visit. Try new things and have fun.

We would like to thank both Bruce and the President of the Australia Indonesia Association of NSW, Eric de Haas. You can email Bruce at vbchristie@gmail.com, and find out more about the Nusa Tenggara Timur Cricket Club at nttcricket.com.

ReelOzInd! 2017: Call for Submissions

ReelOzInd! Australia Indonesia Short Film Competition and Festival returns in 2017!

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

After the success of the inaugural ReelOzInd Australia Indonesia Short Film Competition and Festival in 2016, The Australia-Indonesia Centre is excited to announce its return in 2017.

The inaugural ReelOzInd! saw hundreds of entries from both nations and a shortlist of films screened in over a dozen cities in Australia and Indonesia. A global online audience of more than 5000 viewers had the opportunity to view and vote for their favourites to select the People’s Choice Award.

ReelOzInd! Australia Indonesia Short Film Competition 2017 theme is WATER.

As island nations and neighbouring archipelagos, Australians and Indonesians have a special connection to the seas and waterways that flow around and through their lands.

“Water provides us with playgrounds for fun, sites for ritual and food for our tables, but it is also sometimes a source of hardship and insecurity,” says Festival Coordinator Jemma Purdey.

“Looking to the future we each have shared concerns and challenges. Water as a precious resource is one of these.”

ReelOzInd! 2017 is seeking documentary, fiction and animation short films incorporating WATER as a theme within the story narrative, or as a visual element in the film.

A shortlist will be judged by high-profile Australians and Indonesians from the film industry.

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) and Best Collaboration between Australian and Indonesian filmmakers.

The best films will be screened across Australia and Indonesia (September to November 2017) in a
travelling festival (bioskop keliling).

BACKGROUND

ReelOzInd! was established in 2016 to encourage Australians and Indonesians to share their stories because although we are close neighbours, Australians and Indonesians know little about each other.

But we also know that Australians and Indonesians want to get to know each other better and that we share a great sense of humour and passion for creativity.

ReelOzInd! is unique. There is no other festival that brings Australian and Indonesian film makers together to share their work and stories on the same screen.

TESTIMONIALS

“ReelOzInd! has given us a tremendous experience to see our work getting screened in so many places in Indonesia and also abroad, Australia. It encourages us to speak up louder with our film. We doubted before, but we have seen that it is possible. We wish such opportunity will come again for our next projects!” – Stephanie Pascalita, Producer, ‘The Eagles’ Eyes’, Winner Best Documentary

“The selected films really reflect the uniqueness of Australian and Indonesian culture and the relationship between the two countries that not many people know…. ReelOzInd! plays a strategic role in growing the understanding among the young generation, future leaders of both countries.” – Ina Riyanto, Head of Film and Television, Universitas Multimedia Nusantara, Tangerang

“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.” – Blair Harris, Animator, ‘Dog and Robot’, Winner Best Animation

PRIZES

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

For more information, visit reelozind.com.

Career Champion: professional footballer Robbie Gaspar

The Australia Indonesia Awards celebrate the contributions of those who provide inspiration and enhance understanding between Australians and Indonesians. AIYA is chronicling the achievements of these Career Champions in a series of interviews with this year’s finalists and winners. This week’s second interview is with professional footballer Robbie Gaspar.

Tell us a little about your career.

I played professional football for about 14 years throughout Australia, Europe and Asia. Most of my time was spent playing in Indonesia for about seven years. I retired from professional football in early 2013 and decided to head back to university, where I am currently completing a Bachelor of Business majoring in accounting and Indonesian. I also work for the Professional Footballers Australia as a Player Development Manager and as an advisor to FIFPro

Photo: Robbie Gaspar

Asia, which is the World Players Union for professional footballers. My work for FIFPro Asia is mostly Indonesia-, Malaysia- and Singapore-focused.

What brought you to connect with Indonesia?

Prior to moving to Indonesia in 2005 to play football, I had never been to Indonesia and never really had much experience with Indonesia. I had a few Indonesian friends but did not know too much about Indonesia in general. Back in 2004 I finished my contract in Malaysia and I was looking for a new club when my coach contacted me and said that a club in Indonesia was keen to sign me. I thought, “Why not? I will give it go,” as I had nothing to lose. I enjoyed my time so much in Indonesia that I left at the end of 2012. I had many offers to leave Indonesia to play elsewhere but I enjoyed my time so much living and playing in Indonesia that I decided to stay put.

Tell us about your current occupation.

I am currently a Player Development Manager with the Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) and also an Advisor to FIFPro Asia. My experiences and relationships built over the seven years have helped me tremendously with my work with both the PFA and FIFPro Asia. An example is that during my time in Indonesia I learnt how to speak Bahasa Indonesia and this is invaluable when I travel to Indonesia and Malaysia for FIFPro Asia.

How did you find your current job?

The opportunity to work with FIFPro came up in 2013 when the former Chairman of the PFA and FIFPro Asia and current UNI World Athletes Executive Director Brendan Schwab asked whether I would like to help with the restart of the Malaysian Players Union, which had been dormant for the past two years. I jumped at the chance, as I am extremely passionate about and advocating for player’s rights. Within six months the union was back up and running and continuing to go from strength to strength. The reasons why I was successful in getting the position was first and foremost because I am extremely passionate about protecting and advocating for rights of players, and secondly because my experiences in Malaysia and Indonesia and relationships with the players there help me to achieve this.

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

What did I enjoy the most about Indonesia? I enjoyed being able to do something I love in front of massive crowds day in, day out. Indonesians live, eat and breathe football and until you experience it you can’t believe it. What I didn’t enjoy and do not miss is the long travel by either planes or buses. Travelling from one end of Indonesia to

Photo: Robbie Gaspar

another and then having to play and then travel again, and back up three days later in the heat and humidity for another game is not easy.

What are your thoughts on the future of the Australian-Indonesian relationship in the field of sport?

Being a former professional sportsman I am a big advocator of sports diplomacy and it is great to see that the Australian Government released a sports diplomacy strategy in 2015. There is so much potential to build on the bilateral relationship through sport. Australians and Indonesians are so similar that we are both so passionate about our sports. I feel through sports, especially football or soccer, we can build those people-to-people links and maintain and strengthen cultural relations which are so important to the relationship.

What advice would you offer to youth interested in sport?

For Australians, do you research first before you head to Indonesia. Importantly, be humble and respectful and make a conscious effort to try learning the language as soon as you can.

Given the opportunity again, what would you do differently?

I loved my time in Indonesia and I am the person I am today due to my experiences there, so I wouldn’t want to change anything.

We would like to thank both Robbie and the President of the Australia Indonesia Association of NSW, Eric de Haas. You can find Robbie on Twitter and LindkedIn.

Career Champion: resources specialist Mark Pillsworth

The Australia Indonesia Awards celebrate the contributions of those who provide inspiration and enhance understanding between Australians and Indonesians. AIYA is chronicling the achievements of these Career Champions in a series of interviews with this year’s finalists and winners. This week’s first interviewee is resources specialist Mark Pillsworth.

Tell us a little about your early career.

I left high school early to pursue a small business career, but was not always successful. After my second major failure as a business owner over an eight year period, I decided that I wasn’t very good at business and returned to night school to attain my adult matriculation to gain access to the University of Queensland. I had always had an ambition to be a zoologist or marine biologist and at 22 this was the time to give it a go.

Mark in the Segara Anakan villages meeting with government and village representatives. Photo: Mark Pillsworth

What brought you to connect with Indonesia?

Indonesia was a largely unknown quantity in the 1970s, and stories of journalists being murdered by militia were included in the big stories at that time in Australia. Some talk of holidaying on Bali was emerging, but there was no talk of working there. Having said that, from a marine science perspective, the species associations of the Indo-West Pacific were well known, and when working with CSIRO in Torres Strait, it was a case of “Indo is over there…” My dive buddy and fellow research scientist at CSIRO then went to Ambon to map marine habitat and I visited him in 1991… my first travel to Indonesia.

Tell us about your current occupation.

I have my own consulting company and am registered as a Specialist – Impact Assessment with the EIANZ. My first post-doctoral position was Environmental Manager for the Port of Brisbane (1990 – 1993) and I then performed the Baseline Studies for the relocation of the port from the river wharves to the Fisherman Islands. These studies for a seaport were a first Australia-wide and gave me knowledge and skills which were readily applicable in major coastal infrastructure development and mitigation of impact on an international scale.

With further input to the Segara Anakan Conservation and Development Project in Java (1998–2005), and then working on land reclamation in Segara Anakan with the NGO YSBS, and marrying a girl from Yogyakarta in 2005, my life is between Indonesia and Australia and I call them both my home.

I currently act as environmental advisor to YSBS chairman Father Charlie Burrows as we transform the waterlogged areas in the Segara Anakan Lagoon to productive agricultural land and given food security and wealth to around 16,000 previously very poor villagers. Previous extensive fisheries studies now underpin fisheries conservation in the wetlands that will remain after the final reclamation configuration has been achieved.

Father Charlie, Mark and his wife Lusi meeting with the dusun kepala of Pelindukan. Photo: Mark Pillsworth

Working with such a dynamic personality as Fr Charlie has been a highlight of my professional career, and his close relationship with all people of Segara Anakan and Cilicap in Central Java has proven what can be achieved when the community takes ownership of a project.

How did you find your current job?

I made my own position in a small but highly specialised consultancy where I contracted my past professors who were nearing retirement. The results of combining my commercial and industrial experience with their specialisations led to some spectacular success.

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

I think that the overwhelming aspect is the cultural difference, which are sometimes a lot of fun, and at other times the cause of frustration. But this is always highly rewarding in a professional sense.

What are your thoughts on the future of the Australian-Indonesian relationship in the field of resources?

At this juncture, it is very much an export of Australian science and management systems in near coastal environments to Indonesia – but that situation is rapidly changing. As I have said, we are part of the Indo-West Pacific bioregion and Australia must be thought of as an integral part of the Indonesian archipelago with specific reference to conservation and fisheries management.

What advice would you offer to youth interested in working in resources?

Take any opportunity that comes your way! Do your own research, don’t take unnecessary risks, and make some key affiliations – including with universities. You will be well rewarded for life.

Given the opportunity again, what would you do differently?

There is a popular song called “Cast Your Fate to the Wind”, and when coupled with hard work and a thirst for knowledge (and some adventure), such advice can most surely can lead to a very satisfying life. I am at the stage where I am becoming retrospective… and I have few regrets of consequence. Life is a journey that starts with the first step. I doubt if I would do anything differently. What would it achieve?

We would like to thank both Mark and the President of the Australia Indonesia Association of NSW, Eric de Haas. If you wish to email Mark, you can do so here: mpillsworth@westnet.com.au.

On the AIYA Website This Week

AIYA is committed to providing relevant and interesting information about the latest events and opportunities pertaining to all things Australia and Indonesia, and also to inspiring our members by highlighting the success of fellow enthusiasts of the bilateral relationship. Read on for a recap of this week’s highlights from the AIYA network.

Watch: Interview with Actor Dion Wiyoko

The hit Indonesian film Cek Toko Sebelah is nearing the end of its Australia tour. AIYA recently sat down with star Dion Wiyoko at a recent Sydney screening to discuss how he came to work on the film and where he sees the Indonesian film industry heading in years to come. You can view the full interview (along with tantalising excerpts from the film) below:

If the interview piques your interest (it certainly did ours!) then book your tickets for next week’s final screening in Perth here.

Apply: Asialink Internship Program

Interested in taking on a one-day internship at Asialink Business in Sydney?

For over 25 years, the Asialink Group has been Australia’s leading centre for building Asia capability, public understanding of Asia, and appreciation of Australia’s role in the Asian region. Asialink Business offers an internship opportunity annually to AIYA members. The successful candidate will be able to expand contacts and connections in addition to furthering Asialink’s efforts to enhance the Asia capacity of the Australian workforce.

Prepare your application by 7 April 2017. Head here for details of further requirements.

Read: Career Champion Paul Mead

Sports enthusiast and career champion Paul Mead. Image: Twitter

AIYA also spoke with sports consultant and Australia Indonesia Awards finalist Paul Mead last week, hearing about his career journey in sport and thoughts on the future of the bilateral relationship. Here’s an insightful excerpt from the interview:

Sport is like a universal language. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, if you drop a soccer ball or a cricket ball and bat for example, then most people know what to do with it. Sport helps to bring people together and connect, despite the challenges of language or cultural differences.

So, I enjoy taking these sport experiences and using them to build connection and people to people relationships, whilst overlaying education or economic benefits over the top. Sport is a powerful motivator to get people together to connect.

Read the full Q&A here, and keep an eye out for further discussions with career champions of the Australia-Indonesia relationship on the AIYA Blog in coming weeks.

Apply: AIYA Blog Co-Editor

There’s one more thing – we’re looking for another volunteer co-editor to help curate content for the AIYA Blog. If you’re a young person with an interest in the Australia-Indonesia relationship and experience in journalism, editing or social media, we’d like to hear from you.

Check out the opportunity posting for further details and position description. Applications close 2 April 2017 (that’s the day after tomorrow!). We look forward to hearing from you.

Sampai jumpa minggu depan!

Career Champion: sports consultant Paul Mead

The Australia Indonesia Awards celebrate the contributions of those who provide inspiration and enhance understanding between Australians and Indonesians. AIYA is chronicling the achievements of these Career Champions in a series of interviews with this year’s finalists and winners. Today we hear from sports enthusiast and consultant Paul Mead.

Source: Twitter

AIYA: Tell us a little about your career.

PAUL: I spent eleven years in the New Zealand Army as an Engineer Officer. I spent a lot of time serving overseas, including in Vanuatu, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Timor-Leste. Through my time overseas I gained a great deal of understanding on working effectively with people from different cultures. I learnt the challenges of trying to achieve a common understanding through language barriers, but also the shared understanding of success.

Upon leaving the Army I became a teacher and then worked in the sport industry. Both career changes have been focused on helping people learn and bringing people together.

What brought you to connect with Indonesia?

My connection with Indonesia was more recent. Living in Darwin since 2010, Indonesia is literally on our back doorstep. Our family has had many trips to Bali and this introduced me to the Indonesian people and language. I know that many Indonesians will say that Bali is not a true reflection of the rest of Indonesia, but I do know that it helped me reconnect with my love of working with different cultures.

In 2015, I was fortunate enough to be selected onto CAUSINDY and in 2016 returned as a mentor to CAUSINDY. It is through this program that I gained a deeper understanding of the relationship between Australia and Indonesia and saw the real opportunities to build stronger relationships, particularly through sport.

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

I work for myself as a sports consultant. Sport is like a universal language. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, if you drop a soccer ball or a cricket ball and bat for example, then most people know what to do with it. Sport helps to bring people together and connect, despite the challenges of language or cultural differences.

So, I enjoy taking these sport experiences and using them to build connection and people to people relationships, whilst overlaying education or economic benefits over the top. Sport is a powerful motivator to get people together to connect.

How did you find your current job?

The program Diamonds in the Rough was a program I worked on with a good friend, Narelle Gosstray. Narelle is a well-regarded coach and official within the baseball world, and passionate about projects that create change. I had just come off the 2015 CAUSINDY and wanted to explore how to build on what I had learnt and experienced. A DFAT grant was open, so we created the program and were successful in gaining funding now for two years.

The program takes our Australian Emeralds (Baseball Australia’s national women’s team) squad members, over to Indonesia to work with girls over a period of 1 – 2 days. They act as mentors, coaches and role models, not only in teaching the game of baseball, but also in leadership and confidence activities. Baseball is predominately a male sport, with females pushed to play softball. Our program encourages girls to play baseball, showing them that they have choices by using our female national representatives as role models.

Making choices in what sport you play is analogous to making choices in life and what career you want to follow. We hope that through our program and the ongoing connection with our in country partner who continues to run female baseball programs, that we will develop strong Indonesian female leaders, who have a connection with Australia.

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

The thing I enjoy the most is the food! The thing I like least is Jakarta traffic!

What are your thoughts on the future of the Australian-Indonesian relationship in the field of sport?

Indonesia is fast becoming involved in the hosting of major sporting events. Jakarta is hosting the 2018 Asian Games and this is likely to be an amazing event. There is a lot of expatriate support to develop non-traditional Asian sport capacity, not only in Indonesia, but more broadly across Asia. The development of athletes through a sport pathway is required to start at the grassroots level. Australia has extensive experience in the development of participation pathways, through to gold medal success.

It is through this experience from Australia and the opportunities available in Indonesia to develop sporting pathways that the relationship through sport can be further developed. The proximity between the two countries offers ongoing sport competition options that are cheaper and easier to access for each country, when compared to travelling to Europe or America.

I see a lot more knowledge transfer and competition exchanges occurring between the two countries in regard to sport over coming years.

What advice would you offer to youth interested in sport?

There are plenty of opportunities available, you just have to look. I was lucky enough to experience different cultures and language from an early stage in my career and it has certainly broadened my perspectives.

Those early in their career would benefit highly from a position outside of their comfort zone, whether this was a paid of volunteer nature. The benefits gained far outweigh the financial cost.

Given the opportunity again, what would you do differently?

The one thing that I have never taken up is the learning of a second language. My Bahasa [Indonesia] is almost non-existent and for all the travels I have done around the world I have relied on interpreters or a complex act of miming out what I need or where I am going! If I was to start again, I would learn languages from the outset.

We would like to thank both Paul and the President of the Australia Indonesia Association of NSW, Eric de Haas. You can find Paul on Twitter and LinkedIn.

The Age of Bones: Q&A with Playwright Sandra Thibodeaux

The Age of Bones is a play that follows the journey of young boy from Eastern Indonesia who goes fishing but fails to return. The production is a joint effort between Satu Bulan Theatre Company (Indonesia) and Performing Lines (Australia) and speaks honestly, and with humour, about the Australia-Indonesia relationship. With a number of upcoming performances across Australia, AIYA recently heard from playwright and co-producer Sandra Thibodeaux about the play’s genesis, production and audience reception.

Image: Performing Lines

Where did the idea for The Age of Bones come from?

When my own son was about 15, I came across the story of the Indonesian boys who were jailed in Australia for working on asylum seeker boats. They had already been in jail for about a year, and the story hadn’t even surfaced until then. I was shocked at the story and the silence surrounding it. The thing that struck me most was that the boys’ parents hadn’t been told where they were. They assumed the boys were drowned at sea.

So I wanted to get to the heart of this narrative, and try to show  through a play  the perspectives of the boys and their families. The resultant work is fictional, although it draws from real life. In The Age of Bones, a young boy, Ikan, leaves his parents to go fishing one day, and doesn’t return.

While the core narrative is obviously sad, I like to use touches of comedy where I can. There is a fair amount of political satire in the play, and the cast have brought in their own touches of physical comedy. Laughter helps to soften the political messages and intensify the weight of the sadder scenes.

How does the unique underwater setting influence the visual aesthetic of the play?

I was reluctant to use realistic scenes in the jail and courtroom these can be quite heavy and difficult to access, particularly in a bilingual context. I suppose it was given to me on a platter  we know Australia as ‘Down Under’, so why not set the Australian scenes down under, beneath the waves?

So the Australian scenes are quite fantastical. The characters take on aquatic qualities, becoming sharks and fish, and so on. The judge is a grumpy old octopus. The shadow puppetry, music and video all work together to take us under the water. There is a sense of strangeness that echoes Ikan’s alienation in a foreign land.

What does the play hope to illustrate about Indonesia, Australia, their peoples and nations?

I hope the play helps to foster a deeper cross-border relationship. We’ve chosen to tackle a sensitive topic  this might seem counter-productive to the task of creating regional harmony. However, I believe that it’s important to have open, honest dialogue about these sensitive topics  ignoring them doesn’t make them go away. Last year’s productions in Indonesia received a very warm response  I think the Indonesian audiences appreciated our attempt to have this kind of dialogue. They seemed surprised and, perhaps, touched that Australians would be concerned about the lives of young boys in eastern Indonesia.

At our 2015 reading in Darwin, an audience member commented that it was interesting to see the asylum seeker issue from another perspective that of an Indonesian boy co-opted into working on one of the boats. I think The Age of Bones provides another angle, and gives insight into the lives of people in Nusa Tenggara a place that is really not far away from Australia and, yet, is worlds away in economic development and the choices that this brings.

One reviewer has said The Age of Bones is a reminder that “people cease to see others as human beings but instead as machines, with only bones to work and perpetuate foreign capitalistic ideals.” How prominent was social or political comment for you during the playwriting process?

There is always a political framework informing a play or a film, even though this framework can sometimes seem subtle. Mine has been overt, and is concerned with the way we view our regional responsibilities, the treatment of displaced peoples, youths in detention, and the necessity of looking at issues through a global, rather than national, lens.

The above quote is very moving. The play has a second narrative wherein an older male character, the narrator, is nearing the end of his journey. Bone-weary, he observes the loss of his strength, his memory and sight. He has worked hard, often rescuing people and retrieving corpses from the sea. What is he left with? Fond memories of a few months spent in Australia where “people were nice”. Have we lost our ability to engage with our neighbours outside of the capitalist imperative? I hope not.

What was it like working with cast and crew from both Indonesia and Australia?

The play has had a lengthy genesis with quite a few artistic exchanges occurring. This has placed us in a good position for the productions. Last year, we commenced shows in Indonesia, performing in Lampung, Bandung and Tasikmalaya. As mentioned, the work was warmly received and we have many fond memories of traveling around in a bus with 22 team members!

Cross-border, bilingual artist collaborations are always challenging. People arrive at the stage with their own understandings of what it means to create ‘good theatre’. Part of the learning curve for everyone has been to let go of those preconceptions to allow for a third space  what we might call an Austronesian theatrical space.

The Indonesian and Australian team members have all been extremely hard-working, patient and good-humoured  in Lampung, we sometimes worked without electricity, in the rain, and at very late hours. I have never met people more patient and more inventive than Indonesian actors! Our opening production featured a mid-point black-out. I had a few moments of panic, thinking we’d better stop the show, before the Indonesians simply resumed their places and carried on, aided by torches. I was very impressed. This year, we’ve adopted a few new Australian team members who have brought into the mix a fresh wave of enthusiasm, brilliance and love. This augurs well for the productions that will be staged in Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and  my home town  Darwin.

Discover more about The Age of Bones, including performance times and locations, on the Performing Lines website.

Festival Sinema Australia Indonesia 2017: Short Film Competition

Festival Sinema Australia Indonesia (FSAI) 2017, an initiative of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, celebrates the best of Indonesian and Australian film. This year FSAI launched its inaugural Short Film Competition to support independent Indonesian cinema, and to provide an outlet for young Indonesian filmmakers to have their latest work screened.

From nearly 300 entrants, six finalists were chosen to compete for the opportunity to travel to Australia to attend the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) 2017. The six films were screened throughout the Festival, and the winner of Best Short Film and People’s Choice were announced at the Awarding Ceremony on 29 January. AIYA spoke to the winner of Best Short Film, Mahesa Desaga, about his short film Nunggu Teka.

 Please tell us about your short film, Nunngu Teka.

Nunggu Teka is a story about a mother who is awaiting the homecoming of her children who have moved away. It’s Lebaran, and she has prepared the best of everything to welcome the arrival of her children.

This story departs from my thoughts about the feelings of a mother when she is longing for the return of her children. From my experiences, a mother sometimes doesn’t desire expressions of love every day from her children. It is enough for a mother to hear news from her children – this is enough to bring peace to her throughout her day.

From this, I invite the viewers of this film to unearth moments with their mother. I am certain everyone has their own story with their mother. With this film, I am inviting viewers to re-examine their relationship with their mother. In Nunggu Teka, I deliberately avoided tendentiously creating significant drama. I only wanted to show small moments of friction be filled with the memories of the viewers.

Poster: Mahesa Desanga

How long have you been making short films? For you, what is most satisfying about this artform?

I started producing films in 2008, when I was part of the film community at my campus at the University of Brawijaya. Previously I simply enjoyed watching films – I didn’t think I could produce them – but a work program from the film community ousted me to become the director of a film. From then I started to become interested in directing films.

Why directing? Because I feel like I wouldn’t be skilled in any other filmmaking department. I only understand the philosophy of frames, or film editing, but not the technical matters. I can only tell stories, and telling stories is the responsibility and function of a director.  If Mahesa Desaga wants to live in the world of film, then he can only be a director (and occasionally a screenwriter).

For me film is the medium which is most complete for telling the story of a human life, and even through film we create life. The most important thing for me in the production of a film is that we create an impression for the viewers. The viewers talk about our film, they are reminded of experiences from long ago, and they are moved to do something after watching it. This elements are for me the most satisfying as a filmmaker. And film is indeed the medium which is most complete for this. We can engage viewers through both sound and images.

Gambar: Mahesa Desanga

As the winner of FSIA’s Short Film Competition, in August you’ll travel to Australia to attend MIFF. What are your hopes for this experience?

The opportunity to attend MIFF, for me will become an arena for learning about and researching Australian cinema, in a direct manner. To what extent film is associated with the Australian community. What kind of film trends or developments are being produced by Australian filmmakers. And of course what will be interesting is seeing how those who make films in Australia explore different filmic forms to deliver their stories.  All of these things I will be able to see and feel more closely.

Gambar: Mahesa Desanga

What is your sense of the Indonesian film industry at the moment? What are your hopes for it, and for your role within it?

The Indonesian film industry is currently building, I feel. There are still many things which need to be developed. Until now, the Indonesian film industry has been skewed towards production only, even though this is not ideal from the viewpoint of a dynamic industry. Other areas which also need to be developed are distribution, exhibition, appreciation and criticism. There are already a few figures starting to work in these fields. They need to be supported.

In my opinion, Indonesian filmmakers need to assiduously read their culture. The source of strong stories is borne from culture which is close to everyday life. It can also be argued that Indonesian filmmakers need not be afraid to exhaust stock ideas, as long as they become closer to their culture.

Gambar: Mahesa Desanga

Do you think events such as FSIA are effective and beneficial for strengthening the relationship between Indonesia and Australia?

Of course events such are FSAI are important. Firstly, it’s important for broadening audience’s perspective about Australian film, and showing them that films aren’t solely produced in America by Hollywood. It also shows that there are Australian films which are extremely humanitarian. It is clear that this event is a socio-cultural introduction of Australia to the Indonesian community.

Secondly, the opening of the short film competition at FSAI is also something that is extremely crucial. Because the development of short films in Indonesia is really strong, this session could be even more powerful for illustrating Indonesian socio-cultural elements to the public. When we speak about the face of Indonesia, then we must watch its short films. So with the opening of this opportunity for short films to be screened, it shows FSAI is focused on becoming one of the diplomatic directions which is indeed effective.

Like with my film, Nunggu Teka for example, the issue of the mother-child relationship is a universal issue, but through this film can be shown something specific regarding the situation in Indonesian in the celebration of a national day, a holy day. It could be a point of introduction to Indonesia for those outside.

Where can we learn more about your short films?

For information about my work you can visit my social media accounts. I’m really open to discussion and answering questions.

Facebook: Mahesa Desaga; Instagram: @mahesadesaga; Twitter: @mahesadesaga.

For more information about FSAI check the website.