Research Director’s Update: January 2017

Where to now? The future of Indonesian-Australian research

At the beginning of a new year, it’s natural for us to look back over the year that was. Our researchers flew to and fro between countries, cities and towns—discussing their work with government and industry, gathering data, conducting site visits, and learning more and more about their colleagues and themselves in the process.

A life in research is often full of setbacks: delays in gathering and analysing data, technical and field difficulties, negotiating with varied stakeholders, the eternal struggle to secure funding. Last year our researchers had to face these challenges, yet at the same time, more than 20 projects were successfully concluded, new industry partnerships were formed, and cluster research well and truly commenced.

2016 has given me hope for the future of research between Australia and Indonesia. There’s no doubt that older, experienced researchers bring invaluable insight and guidance to any project they work on; and we have some of the best associated with The Australia-Indonesia Centre’s many activities. But the young researchers associated with the Centre have instilled a sense that despite the many challenges of conducting research internationally, their passion for their work will see them continue to find exciting and truly innovative ways to improve research in both our countries.

For me, one of the highlights of 2016 was the pilot program of the Graduate Research Interdisciplinary Network (GRIN), which brought together 22 young researchers and five academic supervisors from Indonesia and Australia associated with our four research clusters.

From late November to early December, the GRIN cohort toured Victoria and the A.C.T. to attend the Australia-Indonesia Science Symposium in Canberra, learning how to be “science superheroes” and developing cross-institutional and international connections along the way.

You can read more about these activities below.

With an emphasis on the activities of our young researchers, I’ve also included information on:

  1. Graduate researchers will always be young while in the pursuit of new knowledge
  2. Detecting high risk pregnancies
  3. Connecting social entrepreneurship with sustainability research
  4. Your Centre in the news
  5. Upcoming events
  6. The Next Gen speaks
  7. Funding opportunities
  8. Tips for researchers: getting a research permit
  9. We want to hear from YOU

Read on below, and remember to follow @AusIndResearch and @AusIndCentre for all the latest news as it happens.

All the best for a happy and safe start to 2017.

Kind regards,

Richard Price, Director of Research, The Australia-Indonesia Centre

Articles and blogsIn the news | Stories of collaboration
Funding opportunities | Upcoming events | Tips and tools

Graduate researchers will “always be young while they remain engaged in the pursuit of new knowledge”

What are the career prospects for young scientists in today’s globally connected world, and what’s the role of the early career researcher in innovation?

On Thursday 1 December 2016, attendees of the Australia Indonesia Science Symposium in Canberra tackled these and other questions at the Shine Dome, where The Australia-Indonesia Centre’s newly formed Graduate Research Interdisciplinary Network (GRIN) joined the conversation. It was just one day of intense discussion during their nine-day road trip in Australia.

The GRIN group of 22 graduate researchers and four senior academics, from four Australian and seven Indonesian universities, were welcomed to Melbourne by the Indonesian Consul General, H.E. Ibu Dewi Savitri Wahab. On their first day of the program they explored big data and visualisation at Monash University, before embarking on a ‘Research Roadtrip’ through Victoria to Canberra.

“The aim of the GRIN initiative is to establish a graduate research network which is international, cross-institutional and interdisciplinary,” says Dr Megan Power, one of the program developers.

“We believe the initiative bridges a gap in the research career pathway to better equip researchers in Australia and Indonesia to work more collaboratively on shared challenges.”

Professor Richard Price, Director of Research at The Australia-Indonesia Centre, says “The graduate researchers come from different disciplines related to the Centre’s four research clusters, which span energy, infrastructure, health and urban water, and this program also challenges the researchers to work and think in new ways.”

In the evaluation of the program participants found that “the project component was really valuable as we can directly put into practice the lessons we learned in the program. The project shows the true colour of collaboration and truly hands on experience during the program. This is a must if the GRIN program will be conducted in the future.”

Their time in Canberra included a workshop by Associate Professor Inger Mewburn, the Australian National University’s ‘Thesis Whisperer,’ on how to be a superhero in a science career, covering the skills and approaches needed to work in an academic environment.

The group also toured Canberra’s Innovation Network and visited the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Innovation Exchange for a session hosted by Mr Jeff Roach, to learn how local and national governments are addressing innovation through start-up support as well as internally through innovative approaches in policy development.

The GRINnovators, as they are now known, were also challenged to develop and pitch a group project over the nine-day program. A workshop on design thinking by Associate Professor Henry Linger from Monash University stretched the GRIN project teams to look at their concept from the perspective of a person who would be directly involved or impacted by the idea.

“The design thinking workshop was particularly valuable and relevant because the exercise was very practical and helpful to sharpen our research project,” one of the graduate researchers said in the evaluation.

Coming together for a dinner with the Academies of Science for an evening hosted by Professor Peter Kanowski, Master of University House and winner of the Australian National University’s Prize for best supervisor in 2015, the GRINnovators had an opportunity to debate whether the role of the supervisor in today’s connected society was obsolete. Arguing for the affirmative, Professor Kanowski and Associate Professor Ulfah Siregar from IPB Bogor were soundly beaten by Ms Ernauli Aprilia (Lia) from Sydney University and I Made Wahyu from ITS Surabaya, who convinced the diners that supervisors were still relevant and important to them as PhD candidates.

The evening closed with the Presidents of the Academies, Professor Sangkot Mazuki and Professor Andrew Holmes, providing reassuring advice to the graduate and early career researchers that they will always be young while they remain engaged in the pursuit of new knowledge.

The program culminated with a one day session at The University of Melbourne led by Dr Sebastian Thomas, where Melbourne’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) 2016 finalists gave the GRIN group a feel for nailing their research idea with a super short presentation. The top five 3MT researchers from Melbourne then workshopped and fine-tuned the project teams’ concepts.

Final presentations were made to a panel of senior researchers who urged the graduate researchers to persist with their ideas and that their concepts were all feasible real world solutions. Speaking to the researchers on their final night, Professor Margaret Sheil, Provost of The University of Melbourne, gave the graduate researchers the example of her involvement in supporting the team that discovered Homo floriesiensis in Liang Bua Cave, Flores.

“This is just one example of Australia and Indonesia collaboration which has had international impact and I commend your efforts to seek out and collaborate with those colleagues who a sense of discovery and a global outlook to their research,” Professor Sheil said in closing the program.

ABC International’s Australia Plus program interviewed five of the speakers from the Australia-Indonesia Symposium. Read the article here.

The future of innovation is in good hands, in Australia and Indonesia

In opening the joint AIC-Academies of Sciences (Australian and Indonesian) dinner of the GRIN pilot program, Mr Kieran Sullivan from The University of Melbourne and Mr Bintang Yuwono from Institut Teknologi Bandung made the case that the future of innovation is in good hands in both Australia and Indonesia. Quoting Einstein, Kieran reminded us that we “cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”These young researchers were given four days’ notice that they would be making speeches in front of a prestigious audience including the President of the Australian Academy of Science and the Chairman of the Indonesian Academy of Sciences. I commend to you their efforts, transcribed in full.

Detecting high risk pregnancies in Indonesia

Women in Indonesia were 21 times more likely to die from childbirth than women in Australia in 2015. Many pregnant women in Indonesia, particularly in remote areas, do not regularly visit health clinics and so complications are not detected and dealt with early enough.

In 12 villages on Indonesia’s Madura island, student midwifes are accompanying pregnant women to antenatal classes and encouraging them to give birth with a skilled health provider present. Researchers from Airlangga University and The University of Sydney hope this will improve the detection of high-risk pregnancies, lead to more timely referrals and ultimately reduce maternal mortality rates.

“There are too few trained healthcare staff in rural communities. It’s frustrating when we have been referred a patient with a life-threatening condition who, if we had seen weeks or months earlier, could have been easily treated,” says Dr Budi Prasetyo, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Airlangga University in Surabaya. Budi is coordinating this project, which is funded by the Indonesian Directorate of Higher Education (DIKTI) and The Australia-Indonesia Centre.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that women have at least four check-ups during their pregnancy to detect life-threatening conditions such as high blood pressure, fluid retention and protein in the urine (preeclampsia).

Women living in Bangkalan, Madura, where the research is taking place, often do not have access to transport to make the lengthy journey to a health centre. They may also require lengthy approval from their family members for medical attention, or may associate hospitals with sickness and death, which can make them afraid of accessing modern medical services.

“Universitas Airlangga is taking a very pragmatic approach to solving this problem by using midwifery students who are a good source of information for these women and perhaps less threatening and have more time than doctors,” says Associate Professor Kirsty Foster, who is Head of Sydney University’s Medical School and Health Cluster Co-Lead of The Australia-Indonesia Centre.

“Not only will it lead to improved health services, but it is also opening students’ eyes to the reality of midwifery on the ground,” says Kirsty, who also helped develop the research protocol.

Since this research started in April 2015, there has been a slight increase in early detection rates for high-risk pregnancies, suggesting the approach is working.

Read more stories of Australia-Indonesia Centre research at

Connecting social entrepreneurship with sustainability research: Urban Water Cluster student presents at international conference

Can social innovation and social entrepreneurship transform governance and citizenship in developing cities? PhD student Erika Duncan-Horner recently gave a presentation on this topic, in the context of urban water transformations, at the International Conference of Contemporary Social and Political Affairs (ICOCSPA) 2016.

“The concept of social entrepreneurship is not yet well connected to research in sustainability transitions, despite rising interest in its transformative capacity,” Erika says.

“The key argument of my presentation/paper therefore focussed on linking and aligning the on-ground practice of social entrepreneurship with research in sustainability transitions.”

Erika says she first introduced the problem of inadequate water and sanitation, emphasizing on the need to improve sanitation for the poor. To explain how social entrepreneurship can help with Indonesia’s sanitation, she briefly spoke about the concept of leapfrogging, outlining the major infrastructural and institutional differences between developing and developed cities. She also focussed on introducing a conceptual framework for social entrepreneurship and how it aligns with research in sustainability transitions, which have been conducted primarily on developed city basis.

During her time in Indonesia, Erika was able to meet with social entrepreneurs and visit Ciputra University to hear about the social entrepreneurship program. Another benefit was gaining personal feedback from one of the keynote speakers, Professor Shimamoto from Kyoto Bunkyo University, who has wide experience and knowledge in the development field.

The conference was held in Surabaya from 15-16 November, and was attended by around 150 participants. Erika, who is part of The Australia-Indonesia Centre’s Urban Water Cluster, is a student in the Graduate Research Interdisciplinary Program and part of the School of Social Sciences at Monash University.

In the News

Community empowerment through reliable energy was the focus of site visits and research meetings in Indonesia in November.

Our Energy Cluster social research team’s recent field work involved visiting several communities in West Java, holding interviews and focus group discussions with community leaders and representatives, including local government and NGOs.

Their focus was how rural and remote Indonesian communities can engage with national development policy, to meet the needs and aspirations of local livelihoods. Discussions focussed on community livelihoods, local governance, district or regional governance, and national policy frameworks.

They also travelled to Jakarta for a workshop with industry, government, business and other community stakeholders. Kompas TV paid a visit to interview the researchers on their work (pictured).

The researchers say the sessions provided “comprehensive responses and many valuable (and revealing) insights.”

The priorities included:

  • Health and education, and the importance of electricity to support these
  • The role of NGO participation in energy provision initiatives
  • Calls for national government engagement and support at the local level
  • Diverse, specifically identified economic opportunities requiring integrated approaches to power supply, education, and social capital development.

The work is led by Dr Yudo Anggoro of Bandung Institute of Technology and Dr Sebastian Thomas of The University of Melbourne, and includes and Widia Lestari of The University of Melbourne, Dr Yudo Anggoro and Ariani Ariani of Bandung Institute of Technology, Dr Max Richter of Monash University, and Dr Shiskha Prabawanintyas from Paramadina University.

The team is grateful for the support of Pak Iskandar Kuntoadji, Ibu Tri Mumpuni, Ibu Inez Fitri, and the team form the Institut Bisnis dan Ekonomi Kerakyatan (IBEKA) in facilitating these meetings.

Have you or your research team been in the news lately?
Send through a photo or link to a story you’d like to share. We’d also be happy to spread the word if you have a paper or article coming up—so let us know in advance if we can help.

The Next Gen speaks

In each edition this newsletter I’d like to elicit and share the views of a young researcher, entrepreneur, administrator or just a concerned and interested citizen about their experiences and aspirations with respect to the Australia-Indonesia relationship.

Already included in this edition are two recent speeches of two of the Centre’s Graduate Research Interdisciplinary Network. In Next Gen speaks, we’re also hearing from Christopher Rumple of the Energy Cluster.

Chris is a wind energy researcher and fledgling aerodynamicist, studying the effects of turbulence on wake evolution in the setting of wind farms. He is keen on sharing his curiosity and passion for science in the hopes of inspiring others. He has written about his adventures in Indonesia in his blog here.

Funding opportunities

The Australia-Indonesia Centre:

  • Applications for the Attitudes research projects has been extended to 9.00am 31 January 2017. Click here to learn more.

ARC and other Australian and Indonesian grant schemes you may wish to consider:

  • ARC Discovery Projects.These projects include those that enhance international collaborations. Proposals close 1 March 2017.
  • ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities scheme. These include support for large-scale national or international cooperative initiatives. Proposals close 5 April 2017.
  • ARC Linkage Projects. These provide opportunities for internationally competitive research projects to be conducted in collaboration with organisations outside the higher education sector, including industry. Proposals have a rolling deadline.
  • On Accelerate 3: Targeted towards young researchers with a serious entrepreneurial bent! Click here to learn more and apply.

Upcoming events: conferences, launches, etc.

Perth, Australia
February 5 2017: World Renewable Energy Congress XVIMakassar, Indonesia
May 16-19, 2017: Association of Southeast Asian Institutions of Higher Learning ConferenceHobart, Australia
10-13 October 2017: Australian International Education Conference

Tips for researchers: Getting a research permit

Do you want to conduct research in Indonesia? Be sure to follow these steps…

  • It is critical that all collaborative research teams follow the rules and regulations of each country when conducting research. In Indonesia, the Foreign Research Permit Division within the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education has created an online platform where all processing of applications is completed. You can access the platform along with instructions and frequently asked questions in English here.
  • We recommend you allow at least 2–3 months to complete this process prior to departure to Indonesia. This allows for the possibly that your application needs editing, or a representative of the research team is required for an interview.
  • As part of the application you will be asked to provide a letter of acceptance from your Indonesian counterpart. We strongly advise that this letter is accompanied by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) or Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with your research partner institution. This will both strengthen your application and support the outputs of the research collaboration.
  • For a Letter of Recommendation from The Australia-Indonesia Centre, please email:

    Have your stories in these newsletters

    You’re receiving this newsletter because you’re an integral part of the research team, or a supporter of the work that the Australia-Indonesia Centre does in research.

    And because you’re part of the family, I want to hear from you: so please don’t let this be a one-way information flow.

    Lydia Hales from Science in Public is helping me put the newsletters together. So send us ( and information you’d like to see included and shared with your peers.

    It might be conferences and events you’re speaking at or attending, invitations for collaboration, questions you want to ask your international colleagues, etc.

    In ending this edition, I’d like to say,

    Selamat, and all good things as we head into 2017