Research Director’s Update: March 2017

Growth and new beginnings

The weeks since our last update have been busy as always for the Centre, as no doubt they have been for many in the Australia-Indonesia relationship building space. I allude here to the corresponding Presidential-Prime Ministerial visits and the Indonesia Australia Business Week.

Other visits have taken place too, with our researchers busy mobilising their projects in both countries.

And, sadly, we’ve farewelled two valued staff members, Katrina Reid and Megan Power, as they pursue other career and personal opportunities—which for Megan, includes conducting her own research as a PhD student. Both have been the core of a research team that shall be missed by the many researchers they supported in both countries with the highest passion and professionalism.

But we have also welcomed several new members to the AIC research community: Christianne O’Donnell as the newly appointed Health Cluster Coordinator and Dr Dwi Yuliantoro as the newly-appointed liaison officer in Indonesia for the Urban Water Cluster. We’re excited to work with them both, and for them to share their expertise with their new colleagues.

The roles of coordinators and liaison officers are crucial in keeping the many levels of the Centre together, and I will focus on them in the next update.

Speaking of valuable research support, we’ve also commissioned Science In Public to continue their communication support through to December 2017. They’ll continue working with you on plans for each cluster, and are keen to celebrate the work you’re doing by helping you share your news with stakeholders and the media. Please feel free to notify them at any time of work you think deserving of media attention or other recognition, plans for events or activities, other notable milestones, or communication advice.

This edition we cover great examples of an “iconic” renewable energy project, funding from a global charity for urban water research, and infrastructure researchers getting stuck into some solid planning with partners in Indonesia. Finally, our Next Gen Speaks guest is the Centre’s very own Indonesian resident Ghian Tjandaputra, who writes about how research collaboration and engagement between Australia and Indonesia may see us together making breakthroughs currently unimaginable and beyond this world!

You can read more about these activities below. In this update:

  1. Sustainability researchers awarded $27 million to improve water and waste
  2. How does infrastructure hold up during earthquakes? Assessing bridges and more: infrastructure researchers prepare for 2017
  3. Sumba Iconic Island report: turning alternative renewables into reality in Indonesia
  4. Your Centre in the news
  5. Upcoming events
  6. The Next Gen speaks: The research engagement opportunity
  7. Funding opportunities
  8. We want to hear from YOU

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

Kind regards,

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

Sustainability researchers awarded $27 million to improve water and waste

A team led by Professor Rebekah Brown (Co-lead of the Urban Water Cluster and Director of the Monash Sustainable Development Institute) has received $14 million from the Wellcome Trust towards improving access to clean water and waste disposal in informal settlements, or ‘slums’.

The Wellcome Trust’s Our Planet Our Health award will be supplemented by a further $13 million from the Asian Development Bank to cover infrastructure and construction costs.

The urban revitalisation will involve work over five years on 24 sites in Indonesia and Fiji, which were chosen as representative of the type of development challenges faced in the Asian-Pacific. The research aligns with the MSDI Urban Water projects funded by The Australia-Indonesia Centre.

Following community consultations in each settlement, engineers, sociologists, architects, economists, public health experts and biologists will introduce a range of initiatives, such as:

  • individual site assessment and surveys, including modelling flood risk and identifying mosquito supporting habitats

  • dwelling upgrades

  • faecal-contaminated water conveyed to biofilters and surface wetlands for cleaning

  • rainwater tanks

  • toilets to dwellings or communal latrines

  • communal septic tanks

  • capturing and cleaning storm water and wastewater for use in urban agriculture

  • containing environmental contamination from livestock.

Dr Bambang Susantono, Vice President (Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development) of the Asian Development Bank, said in a Monash University press release that: “With Asian cities growing at 120,000 people per day, and many ending up in slums, we urgently need new solutions for delivering water and sanitation in ADB operations.

“This research should provide proof-of-concept of new water sensitive approaches to slum revitalisation where large, centralised urban systems or dispersed rural services aren’t the most appropriate.”

The team also includes Professor Tony Wong, CEO of the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities, and Professor Karin Leder, Head of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University, as well as partner institutions including Stanford and Emory Universities (both in the US) and The University of Melbourne.

The announcement was made by Josh Frydenberg, Australia’s Minister for the Environment and Energy, at Monash University.

Read a story on the work, featuring Rebekah, on the Guardian website here.

How does infrastructure hold up during earthquakes? Assessing bridges and more: infrastructure researchers prepare for 2017

From February 13-18, Infrastructure Cluster researchers from The University of Melbourne joined their Indonesian colleagues to discuss their planned activities and data sharing for the coming year.

Efficient facilitation of major infrastructure projects, seismic performance of critical infrastructures in port development, and a structural performance assessment framework for concrete bridges were all on the agenda.

Dr Elisa Lumantarna, Dr Felix Hui, and Dr Massoud Sofi (all University of Melbourne) met with Infrastructure co-lead Dr Hera Widyastuti and Dr Saut Gurning (Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember), Professor Iswandi Imran and Professor Mashyur Irsyam (Institut Teknologi Bandung), Dr Sari Wahyuni (Universitas Indonesia), and Professor Danang Parikesit (Universitas Gadja Mada).

Partners and stakeholders they met with include representatives from Pelabuhan Teluk Lamong, Dermaga Peti Kemas, and Pelindo III.

Sumba Iconic Island report: turning alternative renewables into reality in Indonesia

The socio-cultural and (natural) environmental factors that will influence renewable energy use in nine rural and remote districts in Lombok, South Sulawesi and Sumba Island have been analysed in a recently published Landscape Lifescape Analysis by Indonesian and Australian researchers.

The researchers found that there is a low risk of negative impacts to the environment, natural capital, and social and livelihood systems; and if the program is successfully put in place there is a high likelihood of positive outcomes for individuals, households and communities.

The findings include a context and risk analysis of various investments, and while the study sites are in Indonesia, they potentially have implications for remote indigenous Australian and mining communities.

Some of the challenges identified included: overcoming negative perceptions of past technology failures; stimulating demand and fostering a willingness to pay for and maintain new technologies; and the building of high-quality physical infrastructure in very remote areas—but the team concluded that most of the challenges have manageable, realistic solutions.

Dr Max Richter of the AIC Energy Cluster and Monash University was one of the full-time researchers and co-author of the report. It involved researchers and practitioners from Hivos, Winrock International, Yayasan Rumah Energi and Village Infrastructure Angels travelling together and conducting surveys, over three weeks from west to east across Sumba Island.

Their approach involves four primary components in three regions of Indonesia. These include: constructing animal dung domestic biogas digesters in three districts of Lombok and two districts of South Sulawesi; solar photovoltaic electrification of schools, including the dissemination of solar charged lanterns for school students and their families; solar powered maize and rice mills; and remote area solar charging kiosks.

Max says the findings and recommendations can help to inform renewable energy investor decisions regarding rural and remote-area locations, to ensure local-level buy-in and long-term success.

The report was published on February 27 and is one of several related to Sumba Iconic Island (SII). SII is a project aiming to create “access to alternative renewable energy (sun, water, wind, biogas and biomass), which will enable gender-balanced economic wellbeing to all.”

They’re working toward the island of Sumba achieving 100 per cent renewable energy and 95 per cent overall electrification by 2025—for the sake of the local inhabitants, and to stand as an ‘icon’ for other areas.

Max says the field surveys and write-up of the report was very much a collaborative effort, involving international technical experts working closely with locals in Indonesia.

“The field experiences and data were brainstormed and schematised through an intensive one-week workshop in Jakarta, and the results and ongoing questions placed in comparative context with existing literature,” Max says.

Read a copy of the report here.

In the News

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.

This time, we’re hearing from Ghian Tjandaputra, the Centre’s very own Indonesian resident and Engagement Coordinator. Ghian is an avid follower of innovators such as Elon Musk. Ghian writes about the importance of engagement in the research and innovation space, and by “space” I literally mean space in the cosmic sense!

Read his thoughts on how Australia-Indonesia research collaboration could get us to Mars here.

Funding opportunities

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

  • 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.

15th World Congress on Public Health
3-7 April, 2017
Melbourne, AustraliaAssociation of Southeast Asian Institutions of Higher Learning Conference
May 16-19, 2017
Makassar, IndonesiaAustralian International Education Conference

10-13 October 2017
Hobart, Australia

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