AND.M: Socially-responsible fashion handmade in Java

Matilda Morgan grew up in rural Victoria, surrounded by the bright colours and bold patterns of Southeast Asian textiles. Her well-travelled grandmother – an expert in Cambodian ceramics – would return from her adventures laden with beautiful fabrics, which she would then sew into curtains and pillows. Said Matilda (Tillie for short), “Since I was young I’ve had a special fondness for the colours, textures and stories found in traditional fabrics from cultures across the world. So it was always at the back of my mind that I would love to do something with fashion and design, and use these bright colours which, in Australia, you don’t see very often.”

For the last year Tillie has been working non-stop to get her socially-responsible fashion label AND.M off the ground and into the wardrobes of those who favour ethical fashion, bright colours and unique prints, and particularly those with a penchant for batik. AND.M stands for ‘Antara Negara Design’ (Between Countries Design). “AND.M refers to our core mission,” explained Tillie, “which is collaboration between countries and working with people who want to do things fairly and creatively.”

Photo: Matilda Morgan

She decided to start her label after five years of studying International Politics at Melbourne Uni and then International Business and Supply Chain Management at RMIT left her feeling uninspired. At the time her parents were living and working on the island of Nias, West Sumatera, and often travelling around Indonesia. “I was at the stage where I hated uni and I had no idea what I wanted to do even if I did finish it, so I just thought, why don’t I just do this? Why not start something where I can work with the local community and source directly from artists on a collaborative basis? I was on the phone to Mum and Dad one night and I said, ‘I want to start my own company and work in Indonesia!’, and they said, ‘That’s a really good idea!’”

One month later Tillie was in Jogjakarta studying at the Indonesian language centre Wisma Bahasa for three months. She returned to Jogja the following March to find artists, develop supply chains, work with seamstresses, and, as she explained, “very slowly get my ahead around how the local industry works. In the beginning I focused specifically on finding artists making the fabric, because it’s all about the fabric.

It’s all about the fabric. Photo: Matilda Morgan

“I was trying to see what’s actually out there, and thinking about the kind of clothes that Westerners would like to wear. I was lucky – I’ve got family in Sydney who own an art gallery and they’d been exhibiting an artist from Jogja, Jumaadi, and so they put us in contact with him and he put us in contact with his friends and family. I was introduced to a lot of different batik artists, I met some of the biggest batik artists in the world who work with European fashion houses. To Westerners Jogja still remains this hidden place, or they might know a tiny little bit about it. But it’s now officially the International City of Batik! There are hundreds and hundreds of producers throughout Central Java. So that was the first step – finding the artists and getting to know them, and finding out what they would be happy to do from a logistical sense. From the get-go it was always supposed to be a very slow process – getting to know the people from the ground up and going from there.”

Photo: Matilda Morgan

The eventual goal for AND.M is to have the clothing produced in the same location as it is sourced – as Tillie wants to ensure “the local supply and production structure is as local as possible.” Currently most of the fabric is sourced from the Bantul regency of southern Jogja and from Cirebon, which is renowned for its magnificent cloud-like motif megamendung. “The grand plan is, if I source the fabric from Central Java, the items will be produced in Central Java. If I source it from Sumatera, the clothing will be sewn in Sumatera. I’ve also been looking into weaving so I want to go to Lombok and look at the weaving to be used in hats. It’s going to take a lot longer to get to that stage, but I’m determined to do it!”

As her business is still in its early stages, currently all AND.M items are produced in Jogjakarta, by two different seamstress businesses. “There’s one which is run by a teacher and works with students who are all girls, while the other owner is one of those cool old Ibus who really knows the ropes. She’s a trained lawyer, has travelled a lot, and gets items produced in Jogja and in Solo. She’s very cool.”

There are two ranges of the label, AND.M and AND.M Tulis. The former is the more affordable cap (printed batik) range, while the latter is made from the coveted hand-drawn batik. “One thing we’ve found is Westerners aren’t doing anything with this kind of fabric, and many have no idea what batik is anyway. Also, this level of production is rare. You either go in and do a multi-million dollar order with a big factory, or you get one or two things made at the local seamstresses’ around the corner. There’s nothing in-between.” Until now.

Photo: Matilda Morgan

Tillie, who will be completing a Diploma of Dressmaking in Jakarta this year, designs all the items herself. “A lot of it is a take on classic designs that I like. I’ve developed all the designs as a baseline, because a lot of them are quite different to what the seamstresses normally make – so they’re more tailored to fit Western bodies. It’s been a lot of work to get it to a standard of understanding about the sizes and the different fit. Even just the hip placements, and you know, we have shoulders! So this is my baseline that can be built on in the future. I also didn’t want to make them too busy because it’s all about the fabric anyway.”

Continued Tillie, “They’re all unique products – it’s a real sample of what kind of fabrics are out there. There’s only a very limited number of each print. You can feel really special because no one else is going to have that skirt! One thing with the supply chain is, you can’t just ask one person to make another 100 pieces of this fabric because it would take three years! Everything I’ve gone for is quality – from the fabric to developing the relationships – so I understand the product and its entire process. It’s been a very interesting journey for the last year.

Photo: Matilda Morgan

“Once I began my travels in Indonesia, Tillie enthused, “I was stunned by the beauty, complexity and depth of batik and other handmade textiles found throughout the archipelago.

“I am constantly inspired by the artists and the motifs they produce through their innate sense of creativity and views of the world around them.

“AND.M is my way of showing my appreciation of this art form and taking it to an audience that otherwise may not be introduced to it.”

Introduce yourself to AND.M and its kaleidoscopic colour, dizzying diversity and stunning fashion statements at the website, and follow on Facebook here. Instagram: @and.mdesign.

Australian & Indonesian teens’ quest to build a library in Bali

Teenagers Samara Welbourne of Australia and Tyas Latra of Bali are on a mission: they’re aiming to raise AUD $20,000 by April this year to build a library in Tyas’ village of Bungaya in the eastern Balinese regency of Karangasem. Despite being one of the world’s top holiday destinations, some areas of Bali – particularly in the east – remain relatively impoverished, with some villages still lacking sanitation, electricity, and health and education services. “The young people of the Bungaya village need this library to improve their English and education so they can lift themselves and their families out of poverty,” Samara said.

For the last two years Samara lived in Bali while her mother worked at Puspadi Bali, on the Australian Volunteers International (AVI) program. Puspadi, which helps over 4,000 clients with physical disabilities, runs Bali’s wheelchair program and also makes prosthetic limbs, will be managing the library project. Through its annual Direct Aid Program (DAP), the Australian Consulate-General has supported Puspadi for many years, and also through DAP has contributed $5,000 to the girls’ admirable fundraising endeavours.

Samara has a long history with libraries. When she was just 12-years-old she had her book How to Make Fairy Houses published by Boolarong Press. She gave 10% of the royalties to a children’s hospital and conducted free fairy house making classes at Sunshine Coast Libraries. Her fairy house classes became a viable small business through which she supported local charities. In 2014 Samara was named Sunshine Coast Young Citizen of the Year for her efforts, and her desire to continue her humanitarian work naturally extended to Bali.

Tyas, Sam and Freya, a member of the Sunshine Coast fundraising team. Photo: Samara Welbourne

“If we want peace and sustainability for our future, then we need to do what we can to assist less-fortunate nations, especially Indonesia as it is our closest neighbour. I feel the Australian-Indonesian relationship could be improved more effectively through the efforts of the next generation – Australian and Indonesian – coming together to make a difference,” Samara enthused.

The library was designed by Journeyman International, a platform connecting volunteer architects, designers, engineers and project managers with humanitarian project needs around the world. The library centre includes a small kitchen and bathroom, and a bale (traditional open pavilion). Said Samara of Journeyman International, “They loved our project so much the lead architect flew to Bali to meet us on the library site in the last school holidays.”

Samara is confident she and Tyas, along with Samara’s friends in the Sunshine Coast fundraising team, will have raised $14,000 by the end of March, leaving a shortfall of $6,000. If they’re able to reach their target, Samara will return to Bali with a group of teenagers from the Sunshine Coast to build the library in April. “While living in Bali I was involved in quite a few fundraising projects, such as helping to get a 13-year-old boy whose father had been paralyzed back to school, and also to support some animal refuges. I learnt that the Balinese are a wonderful group of people – gentle, resilient and grateful for what they have in life, and also fun loving!

During her time in Bali the thing that made the biggest impact on Samara was the realisation that, “it is so easy to make a difference – even for a teenager – so this is one of the things that drives me to do more.” Sam wants to spend every school holidays in Bali working on charity projects, but for now her full focus is on the Bungaya library.

For more information and to donate, head to their Go Fund: Me Bali Library page.

High-quality and impressive: the inaugural Australia Indonesia Science Symposium

The inaugural Australia Indonesia Science Symposium (AISS) was held over four days in Canberra late last year at the Shine Dome, home of the Australian Academy of Science (AAS). The symposium was a collaboration between the AAS, the Indonesian Academy of Science (AIPI), the Australian Early- and Mid-Career Researcher Forum, and the Indonesian Young Academy of Sciences (ALMI). It was supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Knowledge Sector Initiative. Members of AIYA ACT attended this exciting new event.

The first and final days of the symposium were open to the public, while the remaining two were private events held specifically for Australian and Indonesian scientists to discuss and collaborate on joint projects and funding opportunities. They comprised three parallel but connected workshops centred around the three specific scientific areas important to both Indonesia and Australia: marine science and climate change, health, and agriculture.

AISS aims

There are already a number of joint science projects between Australia and Indonesia which the symposium aimed to build upon. For example, CSIRO and its Indonesian counterparts have collaborated on research on agriculture, fisheries and forestry for over 40 years. Further, there are currently over 250 partnerships between Indonesian and Australian universities, some of which have been running for over 20 years.

The symposium was developed to enhance scientific cooperation and exchange, and strengthen people-to-people links between the two countries. While research collaboration is one aspect of the relationship, ultimately the research needs to be translated into policy in both countries. One of the aims of AISS was to influence government policy and the public of both countries.

Another aim was to enhance scientific collaboration between the countries through people-to-people links. Dr Nikola Bowden, Chair of the Australian Early- and Mid-Career Researcher Forum, noted she had learnt more about Indonesian culture and society in the past two days than she had ever before. Through these connections, one of the most unexpected things she discovered was that Australian medical research could benefit greatly from Indonesia. As research conducted in Australia is limited to its small population, conducting research in – and in collaboration with – Indonesia would be enhanced as a result of its significant population, while also benefitting communities on a much larger scale.

AISS outcomes  

On the final day, Diastika Rahwidiati, Chief Technical Adviser of Pulse Lab Jakarta, moderated a session on ‘Big data and disruptive technologies’. Through the lens of big data, outcomes of the previous two days were discussed. Most of the ideas involved adopting Australian ideas or technology to improve Indonesian systems.

  • Agriculture and Big Data

The sessions on agriculture looked at combining crowd-sourced ground data (such as data from Indonesian farmers) and data from satellites and drones to monitor disease and trade dynamics. Technology is already used for the monitoring and prediction of rice crop outcomes, so this could be extended to other Indonesian crops. One idea was to use automated image processing for image recognition and classification of hybrid varieties of rice.

Another proposed tool was to use community volunteers, with monetary incentives, to take pictures of commodity prices in local Indonesian markets. By using picture recognition technology, suppliers, farmers and consumers would be better informed about commodity prices which would encourage price stability.

  • Health and Big Data

Big data technologies can also be used for health. For example, social networking analysis of infectious diseases could be used to monitor Indonesian households with tuberculosis and who they’re in contact with.

Another proposal was to redesign the registration process to monitor infectious diseases. In Indonesia, the current registration process is unnecessarily complex and discourages people from completing the required forms. However, by embracing big data technologies, the Indonesian government could benefit from an increase in information which would translate into better policies.

Finally, technology could be used to track diseases with the use of mobility data. By notifying Indonesian provinces and other countries of relevant infectious disease risk factors, this would enable areas to better prepare for such outbreaks.

  • Marine Science, Climate Change and Big Data

Marine science and climate change research would also benefit from big data. For example, to record the health of marine ecosystems in Indonesia, a crowdsourcing idea was proposed where fishermen could take selfies with fish they’ve caught. This would record the species, size and quantity of the fish and measure the impact of fishing in that area. A Tasmanian scientist in the AISS audience noted that Redmap, or Range Extension Database and Mapping Project, is already being harnessed in Tasmania. It uses pictures from members of the public to log changes in marine habitat, which is especially useful for gauging the impacts of climate change. It is possible Indonesia could use similar strategies to monitor small-scale fishing.

Ecosystem tagging was also proposed. Instead of tagging a single species to monitor its geographical location, ecosystem tagging will measure all species within one specific marine area. This would be a more holistic and systematic approach to monitoring the effects of climate change on the entire marine environment.

One of the biggest problems voiced by the scientists at the symposium was the translation of evidence into policy. Rahwidiati noted that big data can be a useful tool in advocating for this translation as it can complement ‘ground truth data’ (for example socio-economic surveys), and is good for identifying the ‘what’ and the ‘where’ of certain community issues. However, for the use of big data to be effective, it must be used in conjunction with a deeper analytical approach to perform the ‘why’ analysis.

What’s next?

Allaster Cox, the First Assistant Secretary of the South-East Asia Maritime Division, DFAT, commented that the AISS is a valuable mechanism to identify the priorities between the two countries, establish more connections between Australia and Indonesia and the implementation of these new ideas at the next stage.

Dr Leonardo Adypurnama Alias Teguh Sambodo, Director of Industry, Tourism and Creative Economy, in the Ministry of National Development and Planning, noted the significant amount of collaboration between Australia and Indonesia, without government intervention. Thus, while both governments should continue to pursue joint projects, non-government collaboration should also be allowed to flourish.

Panellists in the Conversation Wrap-up Session. From left, Dr Nikola Bowden, Professor Jamaluddin Jompa, Dr Leonardo Adypurnama Alias Teguh Sambado, Allaster Cox, Professor Andrew Holmes and Professor Sangot Marzuki with Prodita Sabarni as moderator. Photo: Sophie Hewitt

The AISS was a fantastic and high-quality symposium, and especially impressive considering it was the first of its kind. There is interest not just to continue these symposiums in the future, but to increase their size. Of course, the most important aspect of the conference is to be able to translate scientific evidence into bilateral policy. While both Indonesian and Australian institutions are aware of these challenges, the fact that the senior ministers of both countries, including Indonesia’s Ambassador to Australia, were present at the event is a good indication both governments will be proactive in implementing and encouraging the AISS outcomes in the future.

For more information about AISS, head over to the website.

‘You will forever crave more’: NAILA Tertiary Awardee Shanti Omodei-James

The National Australia Indonesia Language Awards (NAILA), now in its second year, encourages youth at a variety of stages in life to hone their Indonesian language skills with a speech competition. This year’s Awards Ceremony was held in Melbourne on 14-15 October and was attended by a number of high-profile guests, including the Indonesian Ambassador to Australia His Excellency Mr Nadjib Riphat Kesoema. We invited Tertiary Awardee Shanti Omodei-James to describe just how she came to present her speech submission at the event.

My relationship with Indonesia is a long and complex one, albeit at times somewhat temperamental. Although there were many frequent trips to Indonesia as a young child, my relationship with the country realistically only began at the age of eight when my mother decided to spend a year in Yogyakarta and bring her two young daughters along. To be quite honest, I am not sure what she was thinking! It is safe to say I had my doubts. I had never been to Java before, could not speak the language and was terrified my friends in Adelaide would somehow forget me. Keep in mind I was eight and not simply being melodramatic.

Shanti presenting at the NAILA Awards Ceremony 2016. Photo: NAILA

It was some 15-odd years later when I nervously recited my speech at the 2016 NAILA awards ceremony. My journey to that point was similar to many others. On a whim I had decided to study Indonesian at university, deciding that learning the language properly was the least I could do for a country and a people who had treated me so well as a young girl. A year and a half after studying Indonesian through Flinders University, I attempted to put my language to the test and participate in an Australian Consortium for ‘In-country’ Indonesian Studies (ACICIS) exchange program. I can safely say this was a shock to the system. I found out very quickly that learning Indonesian in the classroom was no match for people-to-people interaction. My awkward and excessively formal Indonesian got me by for the first two months before a friend asked me to her home town. Two weeks of no English and lots of hand signalling enhanced my Indonesian skills far more than six months in the classroom ever could have.

From that point onward I made a conscious effort to engage with Indonesian people wherever possible. Whether it be on an eight hour train ride across Java, in the middle of a bustling market, or even with my very chummy ojek driver. Upon returning to Adelaide I found it understandably more difficult to interact with Indonesians. I recall spending my time on campus attempting to eavesdrop on conversations in any attempt to hear some Indonesian, often transgressing the lines of normal social interaction. In the end I was fortunate enough to find AIYA. With persistent effort I managed to find myself surrounded by a lovely cohort of Indonesians and fellow Indonesian lovers.

Shanti receiving the Tertiary Award from Ms Julie Barber, Chief Marketing Officer at Allens. Photo: NAILA

Frequent trips to Indonesia had helped to keep my language skills up to par but I craved a new challenge. This was when a friend suggested I apply for NAILA. Winner or not, I thought to myself, what a great chance to refresh my skills and challenge those public speaking skills. Luckily I was able to write about something that I feel quite passionately about, religious pluralism. Having studied this topic extensively in university, I applied for the Tertiary Category and ran with it. When I got down to writing my speech I realised that five minutes would not be enough! I had so much I wanted to say but not enough time to do so. It is amazing how quickly time flies if you feel strongly enough about something. After the last minute scramble to get the video entry submitted in time, I was left waiting, twiddling my thumbs. Then the news came that I had been hoping for.

So there I was, reciting my speech in front a room full of Indonesian language experts, Indonesianists and the Indonesian Ambassador to Austalia. The experience was both daunting and rewarding. The NAILA awards weekend was beyond my highest expectations. I was blown away by all of the other winners, especially those from the primary and high school categories. I sat there smiling and giggling like a little girl as I realised there was a whole community of like-minded Indonesianists. A group of young Australians who, despite Indonesia’s sometimes challenging demeanour, retain a deep love for the country and its people. Of course meeting the fellow awardees and wonderful NAILA volunteers was another great highlight. Over the course of the weekend I came to the realisation that everyone’s journey to Indonesia is a unique one but like an elusive drug, once you get a taste of the crazy, perplexing and outstandingly beautiful country that is Indonesia, you will forever crave more.

I would like to briefly take the chance to thank the brilliant people behind NAILA, in particular Sally Hill. Without this passionate team of volunteers, my experience would not have been possible. The importance of such a competition is vital in the current bilateral climate, with any program supporting Indonesian language learning a big step in encouraging Indonesia-Australia engagement.

2016 NAILA awardees with HE Ambassador Nadjib Riphat Kesoema, his wife Mrs Nino Nadjib Riphat and Consul-General Ibu Dewi Savitri Wahab. Photo: NAILA

For any future competition participants out there, I would highly encourage you to challenge yourself and enter NAILA. Find a topic you are passionate about and share it with the world. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to create your speech and even more time for the deceptively easy task of submitting the video entry. Keep practicing your Indonesian. For those currently in Indonesia, why not chat with a taxi driver or simply do your best to engage with people on a personal level. Your skills in Indonesia are highly valued, providing you with a diverse range of career opportunities. Most importantly however, your ability to communicate with a person from a different country in their own language allows you to see the world from a different perspective. Your cultural understating will grow, as will your worldview and of course your friendships. Selamat belajar!

Shanti has spent the past four years dividing her time between Indonesia and Australia. While completing her undergraduate degree in Development Studies from the University of Adelaide, she participated in both AIYEP and ACICIS exchanges. She has spent the last year conducting her Honours research with Flinders University on religious pluralism and interfaith dialogue in Indonesia.

The AIYA Annual 2016 is here!

The below is a letter from AIYA President Nicholas Mark, announcing the publication of the AIYA Annual and wishing you all a fantastic festive season.

Dear AIYA Members, friends and followers,

The extended AIYA team has had an incredibly busy year and it is a privilege to see the growth and success of our various activities and initiatives.

Amid the constant stream of social media updates from AIYA’s various chapters and initiatives, it is easy to miss some of the fantastic things going on and the variety of innovative ways that Australian and Indonesian youth are working together to strengthen the ties between our two countries and to provide opportunities to learn about both countries’ history, cultures and current affairs.

This inaugural edition of the AIYA Annual (click the image or the link to download) provides an opportunity to showcase the diverse range of engaging activities and initiatives that you may have missed during the year. You will find updates from our Chapters around Australia and Indonesia, which have been involved in everything from batik competitions and traditional dance, to debates and career champion speaker sessions.

The past 12 months have seen many AIYA achievements. To name a few:

  • We ran the second NAILA program, which reached a growing audience and introduced new competition categories.
  • We launched our Jawa Barat Chapter.
  • We conducted the 2016 Members Survey and recently released the 2016 Survey Report.
  • We introduced an online membership platform.
  • We grew our fantastic team of communications officers, who have boosted AIYA’s social media presence and built up the AIYA Blog – which has now published over 500 posts!

The AIYA team is dedicated to improving cultural understanding between the people of Australia and Indonesia and it is an honour to be part of such a passionate and driven group of people. The Chapter Presidents and their committees continue to impress with their wide range of activities, and none of it would be possible without the commitment of these wonderful volunteers.

I would like to extend my gratitude and congratulations to all those involved with AIYA in 2016, with a special mention to the Chief Editor of the AIYA Annual, Iona Main, and the publication’s brilliant designer, Hafizah Juzril.

Selamat membaca and we wish you a sehat dan seru festive season. We look forward to seeing you in 2017!

Salam semangat,

Nicholas Mark

AIYA National Executive Committee 2016. Photo: AIYA National

The AIYA Survey 2016 Report is here!

The Australia-Indonesia Youth Association (AIYA) is proud to announce the release of the 2016 Member Survey. As part of our mission to connect, inform and inspire, a regular survey is conducted to provide an in-depth analysis of the issues and perspectives of young people engaged in the Australia-Indonesia relationship.

This report enables policy makers, educators, businesses and other individuals to access and draw their own views about youth issues in the bilateral relationship. The survey covered everything from your thoughts on the state of the government-to-government relationship, to your opinions on the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA), scholarship schemes such as the New Colombo Plan, and other ideas to improve Australia-Indonesia ties.

AIYA would like to thank all our members who completed the survey earlier this year, and invite you to delve into the report and hear the perspectives of your fellow AIYA members. Conducted from March-April 2016, this AIYA Survey attracted close to 500 respondents, with the number of Australians and Indonesians roughly equal, while 70% of respondents were 20-35 years of age.

Please download your copy of the report here.

Some key findings of the survey are:

  • Australian and Indonesian respondents believe the Australian government is handling its relationship with Indonesia increasingly well. In our 2014 survey, Australian respondents in particular believed that Australia was doing a poor job of managing its relationship with Indonesia. In 2016, there was a significantly increased view that the government-to-government relationship is going well, and Indonesian respondents were particularly positive when it came to how both governments are managing the relationship.
  • Indonesian and Australian respondents agree that education is the most important element of the bilateral relationship. In order to strengthen the relationship, AIYA respondents — both Indonesian and Australian — place the greatest importance on education, followed by government-to-government relations and economic and business engagement. Environmental management and transnational crime issues were seen as lower priorities. Further views about the current educational opportunities available to young Australians and Indonesians — such as the New Colombo Plan and the Darmasiswa program — are explored in the policy section of the report.
  • AIYA survey respondents, especially Indonesian respondents, are increasingly optimistic about the effectiveness of the IA-CEPA, which is currently in the fourth round of negotiations.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, so please download the report, and find out more! Any questions, comments or media enquiries can be forwarded to Sam Bashfield at partnerships@aiya.org.au or Nicholas Mark at president@aiya.org.au.

Cry Jailolo and Balabala: Q&A with Eko Supriyanto

Internationally renowned dancer-choreographer Eko Supriyanto is originally from Solo, Central Java. His credits run from The Lion King on Broadway and Madonna’s World Tour to Peter Sellar’s Le Grand Macabre and John Adam’s Flowering Tree. Over four nights at Sydney Festival next month, EkosDance Company will present the companion pieces Cry Jailolo and Balabala, both of which were conceived in the small coastal town of Jailolo, on the island of Halmahera, Maluku. We spoke to the extremely eloquent Eko about this little-known region of Indonesia, and the power of dance vocabularies to encompass both tradition and contemporary realities.

What was it about Halmahera and Jailolo that compelled you to create Cry Jailolo and Balabala?

I like challenges – it’s part of the way I work. When I returned from the US to Solo I was continuously working with Solonese dancers, Javanese themes, etc. By 2011 I was looking for new challenges, new ways of thinking, new ways of creating work beyond the context of Java. It was at this point that the regent of West Halmahera extended this great invitation to create a piece for Jailolo Bay Festival in May 2013. I was grateful and privileged to be given time to research and work with 350 local youth in Jailolo between 2012-2013 for the Festival. It was during this time that I discovered the new world of diving. From this time, research and the subsequent connections, Cry Jailolo was born in 2013 and in 2016, Balabala. These works are new contemporary dance pieces based on local movement vocabulary arts. The works and processes have formed my discourse of Silent Tourism.

Cry Jailolo. Photo: BNG Bernie Ng, courtesy of Esplanade Theatre on the Bay

Dynamite fishing is a common problem in Eastern Indonesia, a region which is relatively neglected in terms of infrastructure development and legal regulation. How does Cry Jailolo explore the problem?

Cry Jailolo is partly my reflection on the destruction of the underwater world in West Halmahera, including dynamite fishing. It is also about the military history and social conflict between Muslims and Christians in the area. Perhaps it’s something of a social reconciliation that focuses on youth and the community. I believe it is time now for the Indonesian government to look towards a holistic approach to the development of Eastern Indonesia.

How does your love of diving influence your choreography?

Diving is now part of my dance vision and exploration. For the last two years I have been researching this new world. The state of anti-gravity, a new space for intelligence of body movement. A space for new exploration and challenges. This will be reflected in my new solo dance – to conclude the trilogy of dancing Jailolo – titled SALT, which will be premiered in Europe at the end of 2017.

While the Cry Jailolo ensemble is male, the Balabala ensemble is female. How did your working practices differ between the two groups, and the two works? What is most different about the companion pieces, and how do they complement each other?

Cry Jailolo is more community-based, the social encounter of the underwater world, the communal rave and the optimism of Jailolo youth. Balabala is more individual. It is a gender-based work and has a more philosophical approach. The piece addresses the space held by women in Eastern Indonesia; the young girls take on the dominantly male war dance of the Cakelele – deconstructing gendered hierarchies.

How are the multiple roles of women in Indonesia explored in Balabala?

The piece addresses belief in the nine directions of life for women: husband, kids, kitchen, bed, community, mountain, ocean, religion and self. This philosophy is combined with the Pencak Silat approach to nine directions – both the roles and directions are combined to explore what strength means for these young women. I ‘dis-construct’ the male war dancers of West Halmahera dances as a physical approach to movement.

Balabala. Photo: David Fajar

While the traditional dances of Java and Bali are familiar to many Australians, those of Eastern Indonesia are not. How do the traditional dances of Maluku differ to what audiences may be familiar with?

Indonesian culture and arts are so diverse; there are so many dances and traditions to be explored and introduced to the outside world. It’s not so much about introducing Australian audiences to that which they are unfamiliar with, but more about offering an experience through the youth of Jailolo, who embody the history of the region and pave the path for the future. I believe dance is a universal language with thousands of vocabularies – I believe that dance can speak of context, history, tradition and contemporary relations – it creates direct experiences and connections. Thus, traditional dance or movement can be brought into the contemporary context, with understanding of history and traditional practices within a new way of looking – beyond the form itself – opening the ideas and dialogues of understanding.

What are you hoping to stimulate in Sydney Festival audiences? What are you hoping the companion pieces will tell them about the people of Jailolo, about Eastern Indonesia, and about the melding of traditional culture with contemporary realities?

I hope to stimulate a deep discussion on Indonesian contemporary dance and its relation to tradition. To argue that Indonesian contemporary dance is always based on its traditions. What is important is how we define the meaning of tradition. Traditions that encompass a deep conversation on the diversity of Indonesian arts and culture, which includes maritime culture. Not only the classical court dances of Java and Bali and the agricultural societies, but also the world of the ocean and fisherman. I wish to express my views that dance is about movement and physicality. It’s not ornamental nor purely conceptual. For me, body movement is entwined with deep connections to history, tradition and contemporary contexts. It is an expression of lived experience. I hope that with this great opportunity to present at Sydney Festival, my works will stimulate dialogue on Indonesian contemporary dance and the diversity of arts and cultures.

EkosDance Company present Cry Jailolo and Balabala at the Sydney Festival from 7-10 January. For more information and for ticket bookings call 1300 856 876, or head to the Sydney Festival website. For the EkosDance Company’s site, click here

Exciting and dynamic: Australia Indonesia Business Week

Perth, Western Australia is tightening its belt and is now looking North, beyond the mining boom and beyond WA to our vast neighbour, Indonesia. The bilateral relationship between Indonesia and Australia has enjoyed a relatively positive period over 2016 and by most accounts, that trend will continue. Over the last few weeks numerous Indonesia-focused events infused the city with splashes of batik and the scent of clove.

From 11 to 15 November, Perth played host to the Australia Indonesia Business Week. A five-day program comprised three key events, the Indonesia Business Summit (11 Nov); Indonesia Trade Fair 12-13 November); and the Australia Indonesia Business Council Conference (13-15 Nov).

The Indonesia Business Summit – Towards a New Chapter of Indonesia and Australia Economic Partnership – was a single-day event with a multitude of sector-specific panels from Aquaculture to the Digital Economy. The event had a strong attendance and whilst identifiable outcomes may be hard to come by, the continuation and transparency of dialogue is indicative of a bright business relationship between Australia and Indonesia.

Indonesia Trade Fair saw the coming together of 50 businesses from throughout the archipelago present public displays at the Perth Exhibition and Convention Centre. It was a vibrant and fun two-day event, free to the public and exceptionally well organised and presented. It was an opportunity to expose West Australians to Indonesia beyond Bali.

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Pak Ade Sarwono, Consul General of Perth speaking at the AIBC Conference, with Bruce Gosper, CEO of Austrade, to his right. Photo: Australia Indonesia Business Council

At the two-day AIBC Conference – Breaking Barriers and Building Bonds – in cooperation with their numerous sponsors the AIBC held constructive, open and engaging sessions centred around the IA CEPA (Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) and the  Turnbull-Jokowi era.

The conference team comprised members of the Australia Indonesia Business Council Youth Professionals and executive members of the Australia Indonesia Youth Association Western Australia Chapter. Chapter President Stewart Palmer, Chapter Vice President David Scholefield and Chapter Secretary Fiona Bettesworth (also AIBC YP) worked closely with the AIBC team to deliver a worthwhile and informative conference for over 270 delegates. This included the Honourable Paul Grigson Ambassador of Australia to the Republic of Indonesia and His Excellency Nadjib Riphat Kesoema Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia.

Australian Indonesia Business Council Youth Professionals and AIYA WA Chapter Executives. Photo: David Scholefield
Australian Indonesia Business Council Youth Professionals and AIYA WA Chapter Executives. Photo: David Scholefield

Over two days, a number of panel sessions were held to inform, deliberate and produce meaningful dialogue between business leaders and government officials. Key note addresses were delivered from the likes of His Excellency Dr Bambang Brodjonogoro, Chairman of BAPPENAS, the Honourable Colin Barnett MLA, Premier of Western Australia, with panels led by the Honourable Chris Bowen MP, Shadow Treasurer, Australia and the Honourable Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance, Australia.

The conference was held only days after President-Elect Trump claimed victory in the US election. An entire panel was dedicated to exploring how the change of leadership in the US would affect business in Australia and Indonesia, with the primary focus of the panel being the TPPA (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement). Honourable Kim Beazley, former Ambassador of Australia to the United States said, “the TPP is dead.” Discussion was frank, thoughtful and practical at a time when many are disillusioned at the state of global affairs.

Whilst many of the panels dealt with changing political landscapes, others focused entirely on the IA CEPA – identified as a key piece of legislation for both nations. The panel, entitled IA-CEPA: How the Negotiations Are Progressing, offered an insight into how significant the free trade agreement between Indonesia and Australia is, with comments given on the speed at which the negotiation is progressing and the push – particularly from the Jokowi administration – to ratify this agreement sooner rather than later.

The Indonesia Business Week proved to be exciting and dynamic. Governments and businesses are preparing and adapting to global political changes, and the bilateral relationship between Indonesia and Australia, no stranger to tumultuous times, seems tinged with a rosy glow.

All panels are accessible for viewing through the Australia Indonesia Business Council Facebook page.

My AIYEP Experience In Building My Personal Network: Fati Ramadhanti

My name is Danti and I was an AIYEP participant in 2013/2014, representing the province of East Kalimantan. During my time in AIYEP, I travelled to Sydney for the Australian phase of the program and to West Sumatra for the Indonesian phase. AIYEP was a fantastic and life changing experience. Let me tell you why.

Danti with her 'host sisters' at a festival in Sydney. Photo: Fati Ramadhanti
Danti with her ‘host sisters’ at a festival in Sydney. Photo: Fati Ramadhanti

Although it has been three years since I participated in AIYEP, I still hold the memories close to my heart. Through the program I was given the opportunity to learn about Australian culture, history, values, weather, foods, events, animals and more. I had experiences in Australia that would have never been possible if I had travelled by myself, and the best part was that the program was free!

My fondest memories were living with a host family, singing and dancing in front of high school students, and working and networking within an Australian company during my internship. I also had the opportunity to meet and be welcomed by the Governor of New South Wales, the Mayor of Kiama, staff from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, staff at the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia, and more.

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Danti with then-Australian ambassador to Indonesia, Greg Moriarty. Photo: Fati Ramadhanti

I learnt so many things and met so many people in such a short time. I could tell you dozens of things that I loved about Australia, but let me tell you my favourite three. Firstly, Australia has lots of different and cool events. One of my favourites was the Jurassic Lounge, held at the Australian Museum. This event featured interesting lighting in the museum, Xbox games, music, photo booths and cafes. It was such a creative event and I liked how the managers made the museum a place for youth to hang out. I wish we had events like these in Indonesia!

Secondly, what I loved was the Australian working culture. Australians are very disciplined, talented and organised. The supervisor during my internship was only three years older than me, however he was already a project manager, can speak fluent French, had received a scholarship for his Masters degree and even taught me how to invest in good stocks! I was very inspired by him to develop my own skills. Thirdly, what I also found interesting was how Australians eat their lunch. Australians love to eat their lunch outside in the park so that they can see the greenery and breathe in the fresh air with their friends and co-workers. This is not common in Indonesia.

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Danti with her supervisor in Sydney. Photo: Fati Ramadhanti

I discovered many differences in our cultures between Australia and Indonesia during AIYEP. While most of the experiences I mentioned might seem very common for Australians, they were new experiences for me as an Indonesian. The AIYEP experience changed my perspectives, cultural understanding, values and even my whole life. Not only did I discover myself but also a whole new group of people that I now consider my family. Now anytime I go to a province in Indonesia or a state in Australia, I have friends to catch up with. Furthermore, my experiences in AIYEP gave me better opportunities and greater networks to help me in my career. Thanks to AIYEP I was able to work as a Finance Management Trainee with Nestle Indonesia, and received a scholarship through The Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education.

AIYEP allows Australians and Indonesians to learn more about one another. We are only 2,000 miles apart, yet the cultures and environments are vastly different. Only by experiencing the cultures for ourselves can we understand each other’s values and know what similarities we have in common. We are neighbours. Understanding one another will benefit us to build stronger relationships as people and as nations.

Cultural performance for AIYEP participants. Photo: Fati Ramadhanti
Cultural performance for AIYEP participants. Photo: Fati Ramadhanti

This article is one of a series of reflections from alumni of Australia-Indonesia student exchange programs. Read the experiences of other AIYEP participants here. The editors of the AIYA Blog would also like to thank Samantha Howard for her assistance in commissioning and editing these articles. You can find her solo and collaborative blog and journal writing here and here.

My AIYEP Experience Living in Australia: Nurzahara Amalia

Nurzahara Amalia (Zahara) of Banten was an 2013-14 Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program (AIYEP) participant, and here shares a reflection on the ups and downs of experiencing life in Australia.

I was born to a simple family in a small town in Pandeglang, the furthest West part of Java Island. My mother is a housewife and my father was a teacher. When I was in junior high school, I dreamt of going abroad. I thought this might never be possible as my family wasn’t a rich family and you need a lot of money to travel overseas. At that time, I thought it was just a dream. I never thought that it would happen.

But then I had a chance to make this dream come through, by applying for the Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program. I applied in 2012 but I failed. Was I upset? Yes! Did I give up? No! The next year, I tried again. I practiced so hard, even taking an English course to better prepare. When preparation meets opportunity, it’s called success. I cannot tell you how great the feeling was when I set foot at the Sydney airport for the first time, it was indescribable!

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Zahara interning at SBS Radio Indonesia. Photo: Nurzahara Amalia

I joined AIYEP as a representative from my province of Banten. The program has two phases: the first in Australia and the second in Indonesia. During my stay in Australia, I had so many new experiences. It was the first time I had lived with foreigners. Experiencing a new life requires you to adapt quickly and be flexible. It was particularly difficult for me to adapt to the food. I had heartburn and a stomach ache in my first week. I wasn’t eating rice and I even threw up when I tried Vegemite. But my favourite food is fish and chips. It’s delicious!

The Australian phase had many activities including cultural performances and an internship. As part of the first phase, every Monday my friends from the program and I went to schools to perform Indonesian professional dances. I was so happy seeing the audience looking so excited. I felt so proud of my own country because of its diversity. We interacted with students after our performances, which enabled me to learn more about Australian culture.

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The dance crew post-performance. Photo: Nurzahara Amalia

The second part of the Australian phase was an internship. I interned at SBS Radio Australia, working every Tuesday until Friday. I had a really kind supervisor and enjoyed my time there. I learnt how to produce news and how the broadcast system in Australia works. I learnt about discipline and punctuality. I remember one time when I woke up late so I missed the train. I felt so ashamed to come late because I was worried that they believed all Indonesians were always late. I learnt from that experience to always wake up early.

I also learnt about the Australian people. They are nice, speak with an open mind and quite bluntly, and are helpful and hospitable. The country is clean and orderly. I miss my time in Australia, and I miss the fish and chips. I miss the program and the people and am grateful for my opportunity through AIYEP.

This article is one of a series of reflections from alumni of Australia-Indonesia student exchange programs. Read the experiences of other AIYEP participants here. The editors of the AIYA Blog would also like to thank Samantha Howard for her assistance in commissioning and editing these articles. You can find her solo and collaborative blog and journal writing here and here.