The Australia-Indonesia Centre applauds PM’s commitment to people-to-people links between nations
The Australia-Indonesia Centre welcomes the visit by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to Makassar, a part of Indonesia that it knows well through its extensive research in the region.
Executive Director Eugene Sebastian has just returned from a week-long visit to Makassar and knows how important the province is to the relationship with Australia.
“This is one of the stronger economic centres of Indonesia, and we see great potential for Australia to work closely with it in trade and capacity building,” he said.
“We talk regularly with government and industry stakeholders on how our research can have impact in helping to solve the development challenges facing a growing province.”
The Prime Minister’s visit was hosted by Hasanuddin University and its Rector Jamaluddin Jompa. Professor Jompa chairs the Centre’s advisory panel, which is a group of leading industry and government figures providing guidance on research projects.
“We have a strong connection with Hasanuddin University which hosted the Prime Ministerial visit, and it was great to see our friend and Australian alumni, the Rector Jamaluddin Jompa, leading the welcome,” said Dr Sebastian.
Since 2019 the Centre has made Makassar its base for research to tackle critical economic and social challenges. These include work into South Sulawesi’s first railway line and how it can help business and communities access more opportunities, collecting data about the seaweed industry to help it become a powerhouse industry between the two countries, and delving into the aspirations and needs of the huge demographic of young people.
This work is done through the Partnership for Australia-Indonesia Research (PAIR) program which is supported by the Australian and Indonesian governments.
The Centre has developed strong connections with local government, industry and communities to develop a truly collaborative partnership, holding regular forums with policymakers to discuss how the research findings can be used. An example of this is better understanding the skills and training that may be required to support an international seaweed industry.
The Prime Minister talked about the historical ties that already existed between the Macassan people and the Indigenous people of north eastern Australia, through a flourishing sea trade.
He said “the long relationship between the Macassan people and the First Nations people of Australia was built around trade. But what was most striking was that it was built on mutual respect” and this is a sentiment that we work with.
This early connection is now being shaped to create a contemporary gateway for trade and the sharing of knowledge.
The AIC also promoted this important connection, collaborating on an exchange project between artists from Makassar and East Arnhem land which gave voice to the traders and trades that were flourishing before the 21st century between Makassar and north eastern Australia.
A documentary about this flourishing sea trade, Trading Cultures, was made in collaboration with the University of Melbourne’s Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development. The documentary has been screened multiple times on SBS.
According to Dr Sebastian, “I am delighted that the Prime Minister, in his speech, said he would be “returning to Indonesia often because of the importance of a diverse and beautiful country, as a neighbour, as a friend, as a matter of priority.”
We fully support the government’s commitment to Indonesia and look forward to our role in strengthening the bilateral relationship.