Youth are our Future: Supporting the best health for Indonesia’s ‘Golden Generation’

The AIC Health Cluster has spent the last two years intensively researching how to support the best health and wellbeing outcomes for children and adolescents, with the knowledge that in every way, youth are our future. Ensuring that today’s generation of young people grows up as healthy as they can be, and stays healthy as they mature, is one way to maximise their contribution to Indonesian society. The research focus of the Health Cluster has been on responding to the substantial impact of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) through a focus on primary prevention, before the disease burden becomes established in adults.

On Thursday 19 September 2018 in Jakarta, the Cluster brings together its 80 Indonesian and Australian researchers with leaders and experts from government, NGOs, the community and the media to explore the opportunities to translate the findings and recommendations from 13 projects into concrete, cross-sectoral policies and practices for evidence-based NCD prevention.

The focus of the forum, and the research evidence that will inform it, is summed up by the event title: ‘Youth are our Future: Early-life NCD prevention for a prosperous resilient ‘Golden Generation’.

The ‘Generasi Emas’ or ‘Golden Generation’ refers to the growing proportion of working-aged Indonesians who are set to deliver a demographic dividend which will peak in the next decade. If this generation, many of whom are now adolescents, can be kept healthy, educated and provided with jobs, then President Jokowi may well be right to hail Indonesia’s emergence as a global economic giant around the time of the nation’s one-hundredth birthday, in 2045.

For this to occur, there is an urgent need for government and civic society to creatively work in partnership with young people across media, schools, work places, communities and health services to put in place the conditions in which young people’s health and wellbeing flourish. An integrated response needs to both empower adolescents about NCD risk behaviours – from avoiding smoking and poor nutrition, together with support for their mental wellbeing – and protect them from harm. In doing so, the health and wealth of the Golden Generation will soar.

At the forum, more than 20 presenters will share their insights that will help shape the translation of the Cluster’s research into policies and actions. Participants will be called on to engage in divergent thinking for creative solutions as they reflect on the evidence and experiences presented, and how to make the most effective use of it for Indonesia’s young.

Presenters include Benny Prawira, founder of the suicide-prevention foundation Into The Light Indonesia and co-founder of Indonesian Adolescent Health Association; Professor Susan Sawyer from The University of Melbourne, AIC Health Cluster lead and president of the International Association of Adolescent Health; Dr Mohammad Fadjar, Outreach & Partnership Coordinator, Center for Indonesia’s Strategic Development Initiatives; and representatives from the Indonesian Ministry of Health and Ministry of Higher Education and Research, and the Australian Embassy Jakarta.

The Health Cluster has an action-packed week in Jakarta. Prior to ‘Youth are our Future’ forum, all the Cluster research leads, project leads and researchers of the AIC Health Cluster gather to present their research findings at a research summit titled: ‘Foundations for our Future: Innovative research for front-line NCD prevention early in life’.

The week will close out with a stakeholder roundtable focussed on mental health data needs for Indonesia’s adolescents, and end with a meeting of the Health Custer Advisory Board.

The AIC and Health Cluster is delighted with the strength of engagement and contribution of the research leads and researchers over the past two years. We wish you well for the week, and look forward to supporting the research translation of the various project findings into healthier outcomes for Indonesia’s youth – and a more prosperous, resilient Golden Generation.