Changes to the AIYA Executive Board

Dear AIYA members, supporters and followers,

I am writing to inform you of some changes which have recently occurred to the AIYA National Executive team.

Director changes

On Sunday 26 April, AIYA held a National Council meeting at which a number of changes were made to the AIYA National Executive. Particularly:

  • Hugh Passmore resigned as Partnerships Director and will be replaced with two new directors, Sam Bashfield and Courtney Saville. Sam is a former Victoria Chapter President, and currently works at the University of Sydney’s Sydney Southeast Asia Centre. Courtney is currently living in Yogyakarta, and has had substantial professional experience in partnerships roles in Australia;
  • Bede Moore resigned as Director for the Conference of Australian and Indonesian Youth (CAUSINDY). Bede’s role will not be replaced at this time as there remains two CAUSINDY Directors on the AIYA National Executive;
  • Sally Hill has moved roles from National Treasurer and Company Secretary to become Director of a new initiative which AIYA will launch this year. Sheila Hie will take on the Treasurer and Company Secretary role. Sheila currently works at ANZ, previously served as President of AIYA’s Queensland Chapter and has been involved in PPIA among other things; and
  • Ghian Tjandaputra Muhammad will take on a role as an Executive Officer for the National Executive. This is a non-Director position, but Ghian will assist and work closely with the Directors. Ghian is VP of the AIYA Victoria, and currently works at the Australia-Indonesia Centre.

The outgoing directors, Bede and Hugh, were part of the inaugural AIYA National Executive and have made a huge contribution to our organisation. Bede was the founder of the hugely successful CAUSINDY (and will continue to act as an advisor to that initiative) and Hugh played a key role in the development of AIYA’s strategy and forming some of its key partnerships. They both move on to exciting new opportunities, but will be sorely missed in AIYA.

President changes

I am also writing to inform you that, after much deliberation, I have also decided to resign as AIYA’s National President. AIYA has grown from a group of four friends, to a formidable youth-focused people-to-people organisation with chapter representatives across Australia and Indonesia.

The over 50 events during my time as President have reached thousands of young people; our 5000+ followers on Facebook have developed into a vibrant online community; our advocacy has appeared repeatedly in the press; and CAUSINDY has developed as a key event on the Australia-Indonesia calendar for young professionals and students.

Deciding to step down during a time when AIYA is at a point of great strength has been a difficult decision, but one which I feel – after three and a half years as the inaugural President of AIYA – is in the best interests of the organisation. I will remain in an advisory capacity to the organisation.

Incoming President

Nicholas Mark has been selected to take on the role as AIYA National President. Nick has a strong track record of leadership in the Australia-Indonesia people to people space. He is the inaugural and outgoing NSW AIYA Chapter President, a delegate at CAUSINDY, a delegate of the Australia-Indonesia Bilateral Dialogue, the author of an Indonesian children’s book, a talented musician (performing in Australia and Indonesia) and at the same time a solicitor in Sydney!

I and all of the outgoing and current AIYA National Executive are confident that AIYA is in a safe set of hands under Nick’s leadership, and we are excited to see what the future will bring.

Salam hangat,

Arjuna Dibley

AIYA Links: 22 May

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Indonesia at the Beginning of Jokowi’s Presidency: the Birth of a New Era?

In November 2014, Michael Reardon visited Indonesia shortly after Joko Widodo (Jokowi) was inaugurated as Indonesia’s new President. This post reflects Michael’s experiences at the time and his hope for Jokowi and the current Indonesian government.

As an Australian who considers Indonesia to be his second home away from home, I watched the 2014 election contest with great interest from afar. From the moment he announced his candidacy for the presidency in mid-March, I was firmly behind the Jokowi camp and it greatly pleased me to see him elected to Indonesia’s top job in June this year, despite the considerable odds stacked against him. Compared to Australia’s increasingly vacuous and short-term focused politics, finally here is a political leader who I could place my faith in. Not without his faults of course, but the election of this unassuming former furniture salesman from the provincial Javanese city of Solo represents the consolidation of representative democracy in the world’s 4th most populous nation – a significant achievement by any standard, especially given its recent history. So what’s the word on the streets about Joko Widodo in his new, high-pressure role as the leader of this vast, diverse archipelago nation of some 250 million people?

In October 2014, Jokowi was inaugurated as Indonesia’s seventh President. Photo: Michael Reardon

Surface Impressions: Business as Usual

Arriving in Jakarta on the evening of Saturday November 15th, everything appeared normal and unremarkable, which is itself a good sign that democracy has become the status quo in Indonesia, as opposed to the long-held dream it was just some 20 short years ago. There were no street protests, civil unrest and certainly no military presence that can usually accompany general elections in developing nations. In fact, the first mention of the recent change of government came from the well-read copy of ‘Kompas’ newspaper lying on the kitchen floor of my host family’s residence. Getting out and about onto the streets of Jakarta the following day also revealed a reassuring sense of normality. Life in the capital would continue much the same as it always had – stray cats would wander along busy roads amongst Bajaj’s, whilst Ojek’s speed past and Warungs remained busy feeding hungry locals until the wee hours of the morning. The only overt signs of politics amongst the familiar humdrum were the fading posters of beaming candidates.

Rocking the Boat: Cutting the Fuel Subsidy by a Quarter

The first mention of the Jokowi presidency from the mouth of a stranger occurred more than a week later when a driver me and my friends hired in Yogyakarta to show us around, expressed his anger at the president’s decision to cut the nation’s financially reckless fuel subsidy by approximately 25% – which raised the price of fuel from the equivalent of AUD $0.60 to AUD $0.80 per litre in a single pen stroke. A very necessary and well overdue move in my opinion, but no doubt one which may have cost the president a not insignificant number of future votes. “I can’t vote for him again”, said my driver, although others could see the point of Jokowi’s first controversial domestic policy decision and supported his bold move. “We need more announcements like that” a friend explained, “Indonesia needs decisive leadership to move forward” she added, with a veiled reference to the supposed disappointment of SBY’s “squandered second term”. So with 5 years to shake up this developing democracy and land of huge potential, and set it on a faster, more sustainable growth path, Joko Widodo has made a decent start and appears to be moving in the right direction. But far from turning Indonesia upside down and inside out from the beginning, the Jokowi era it seems, will be shaped by consistent, pragmatic, action-oriented decision-making more than anything else….

AIYA Links: 15 May

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Musical interlude

Events & opportunities

Perspectives wanted for SBS Insight

SBS TV’s Insight program is looking for Indonesians in Australia or Indonesia to talk about Indonesia on Insight.

Insight is hoping to record a program in Jakarta in the coming months and is looking for commentators. Topics include an assessment of President Jokowi’s leadership, the Australia-Indonesia relationship, contemporary challenges and perspectives on the future.

If you are keen to get involved, email All opinions and perspectives are welcome.

Why you should ‘Beat the Dry’?

In 2015, approximately 5 million people live in the East Nusa Tenggara region of Indonesia (Badan Pusat Statistik). Of those five million people, approximately 30 per cent are unemployed (2011, International Labour Office). In 2008, the average person in the region earned about $190 Australian every year (2008, NTA). Yes, per year. 20.6 per cent of children do not go to school (2013, International Labour Office). The overall extreme poverty in the region sits at 23 per cent (2013, UN), more than 10 per cent higher than the rest of Indonesia (2013, World Bank). Problems with agricultural development and deforestation exacerbate existing issues in the region. The East Nusa Tenggara region is one of the poorest regions in Indonesia and the world. It struggles with long dry seasons. Making it difficult for families to have access to clean and safe water further exacerbating living expenses.

NTT is one of the closest regions to Australia and one of the poorest regions in the world. Whilst Australia is one of the richest places in the world.

Map of East Nusa Tenggara and surrounding region. Photo: Google Maps
Map of East Nusa Tenggara and surrounding region. Photo: Google Maps

This is where the Nusa Tenggara Association steps in. The NTA since 1988 have worked in the NTT region to help bring more people above the poverty line. At any given time there are 150-200 projects being managed by the NTA. They work with local NGOs and the community to provide access to water, building wells, access to schools, education, and libraries to improve the lives of over 10,000 people. The NTA also put back 90 per cent of their funds directly back into the community. On the Australian side they are based completely on volunteers. This is all thanks to the amazing work of Dr Colin Barlow.

So, what is Beat the Dry? Drinking just water for two weeks (eating whatever you like) whilst raising much needed funding for the continuation of NTA projects. Given the drought and poor access to water in the region the campaign aims to raise awareness of the situation of the NTT region. Water in the NTT region is difficult to attain, taking children away from school and their parents away from other important work. To Beat the Dry, would give participants a very small insight into the monotony of drinking only water, whilst raising money for a campaign that changes lives.

Sign-up here:

beat the dry

AIYA Links: 8 May

In the news

At the AIYA Blog

Events & opportunities

  • Brisbane, 16 May: come along to UQ’s 2015 Indonesian Day—full info here.
  • Canberra, 18 May: grab a ticket for AIYA ACT’s screening of the hit documentary Jalanan.
  • Two great openings at the AIYA Job Board: the Office of National Assessments seeks a new Indonesia Team Leader, and the Jakarta Post is hiring a new copy editor.

Twitter: The Voice of Indonesia

Indonesia has a total population in excess of 250 million people, with approximately 20 million Twitter users based off Twitter reports earlier this year. Most of Indonesia’s Twitter users are under thirty years old, and represent a new generation of voters who participate in politics online. Based on an official report from Twitter, there were over one million Indonesians who re-tweeted about supporting Jokowi as a trusted leader, and Yusuf Kalla as an experienced leader.

Twitter is very popular in Indonesia. Photo:
Twitter has become an important tool in discussing Indonesian politics. Photo:

For the Indonesian presidential election in 2014, there were 95 million tweets that focused on Jokowi and Prabowo in the period between June 4th and July 9th. The sheer volume of tweets shows how Twitter has become an important online platform where the voice of Indonesian voters can be heard. Indonesian citizens talked through Twitter about the significance of development, economy, reform, corruption and education.

Twitter is progressively becoming a forum for dialogue and communication to connect the government and its citizens. For instance, Joko Widodo, the President of Indonesia, (@jokowi_do2) uses his Twitter to inform followers of the latest governmental updates, while Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (@basuki_btp), Jakarta’s Governor, developed the Jakarta smart city program in collaboration with Twitter. Basuki has told 30.000 neighborhood chiefs in Jakarta to report (via tweeting) problems in their area, in order to help with Jakarta’s smart city program.

Besides Twitter being used to implement change, Indonesia’s Vice President Jusuf Kalla has worked together with the Chief of Twitter, Dick Costolo, to create public twitter notifications regarding emerging natural disasters caused by flooding, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Furthermore, Indonesia’s Minister of Information Technology (Menteri Komunikasi dan Informatika Indonesia), Rudiantara also explored the possibility of using Twitter to manage disaster information systems, which would produce regular updates in the event of an emergency. In Indonesia, Twitter emphasises the opportunity to build partnership between government and civic organisations. Dick Costolo cooperated with research data program UN Global Pulse to gain access to data which has real time insights into societal debates.

Twitter has also started educational initiatives to encourage female students in Indonesia to learn about computer science. Moreover, Dick Costolo partnered with Mirna Adriani, Dean of Faculty of Computer Science of University of Indonesia (Universitas Indonesia), to give five academic fellowships in the upcoming three years. In Indonesia, Twitter hopes to inspire women to create change with technology, apply technology as a solution to social problems, and use technology to achieve their own personal success.

Twitter has become a trustworthy platform in Indonesia as a voice for change, especially for those citizens wishing to express their thoughts and opinions about the future direction of Indonesia. Twitter has also transformed to become a platform for disaster risk management in Indonesia, with the potential to save many lives. It has given an opportunity for Indonesian women to learn, innovate and use technology as a key to achieving success.

8 Things about Australia You’ll Miss When in Indonesia

Travelling to Indonesia is the most out-there thing I’ve done in my entire life, and that’s why I loved doing it. The country is a brilliantly different place with a fascinating cultural identity. Because of this, however, some parts of the Australian experience that you end up missing a whole bunch when you can’t find or experience them in Indonesia.

Australians are famous for their BBQs. Photo: Maureen Haycock

Of course, this isn’t at all a criticism of the country – it just goes to show how attached we become to certain objects and traditions (nothing like a foreign country to shake things up!). Plus, the list is based on my personal experiences and observations, so you’re welcome to disagree.

1) Family and friends. Alright, let’s get the frequently-quoted cliché out of the way first. However, it’s very true – family and friends often aren’t there with you while in-country. And, despite the extremely accommodating nature of Indonesian families, sometimes you just can’t beat the folk back home.

2) English language reading material. I was told before my first study trip to Indonesia that I might have a hard time finding books or magazines written in English – and they were right. I’m not sure I found anything not in Indonesian that wasn’t brought from home by other Australians. Like I said at the beginning, I end up missing the simple things – this included.

3) Alone time. Indonesians love to do stuff together: eat, talk, study, anything. Sometimes you can’t get away from it all. For instance, five Indonesian friends and I once went on a weekend trip away to the islands off the east coast of Lombok. All six of us ended up sleeping in a single room – four on the bed, two on the floor. The others were happy to snuggle up under the doona (that’s right – doona), but to be honest I was wanting to get somewhere cool and quiet.

4) A safe on-road experience. Oh, how Indonesian traffic fascinates me. Bewildering in more than one sense of the word, the plentiful vehicles zooming past makes it dangerous to simply cross the road. It’s a stark change from the linearity and regulation of Australian roads. (I got excited when I saw a pedestrian crossing marked on the road in Yogyakarta – yes, I speak the truth, an actual pedestrian crossing).

5) The use of your left hand. This one can be challenging as you have to change your habits from day one. Whether it’s eating a meal to handing a pen to a fellow student in class, careful with the (dreaded?) left hand. What’s more, the return home is even peculiar – actually being able to use two hands? Unthinkable!

6) Unsweetened bread. It took me a while to realise, but in Lombok, finding bread like you get in Australia is extremely difficult. I’d go to the nearby Indomaret and find racks of Sari Roti and half-loaves of sliced bread. These taste great, but can be a little too sweet when you’re hunting for a sandwich or some vegemite on toast (both of which would fit well on this list, actually).

7) Ability to blend in. Try as you might, the simple act of walking down the street makes you stand out. This is because of the obvious reasons: ethnicity, height, language (oh, and the shape of your nose). The local community will quickly take you in as one of their own, sure, but you’ll attract renewed attention when you head somewhere new.

8) Australia/Australians. Maybe I’m here cheating here, but for all our faults, you can’t beat good ol’ Oz. There is something inherently inviting about the Australian experience – maybe it’s the accent, the easy-going nature everyone speaks of, the weather, or firing up the barbeque with friends for Australia Day. Whatever it is, you’re exposed to it from birth and it doesn’t let up your entire life.

Things like these are what we long for when out of the country, but often take for granted back home. They’re small things on their own, but on the whole add up. We better make use of them while they’re at our fingertips and not a few thousand kilometres away, don’t you think?

AIYA Links: 24 April

Leaders from Asia and Africa pose for a group photo before the start of the Asian-African Conference in Jakarta

In the news

At the AIYA Blog

  • AIYA’s look at Melbourne’s Indonesian Film Festival continues with reviews of @DanielZiv‘s Jalanan and the food-centred drama Tabula Rasa.

Events & opportunities