Indonesian, Australian leaders connect

Some of Indonesia’s most progressive and inspirational leaders in the fields of diplomacy, trade, energy, academia, think-tanks and community service have demonstrated why their nation is one of the most dynamic emerging markets.  

The leaders – taking part in the Australia-Indonesia Centre’s (AIC’s) third Australia-Indonesia Leaders Program in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne in the second half of May – impressed audiences with their passion for knowledge, collaboration and innovation.

The Leaders Program, guided by the themes of Economic Diplomacy, Innovation and Energy, brought together Indonesian and Australian leaders for 10 days to take part in leadership-development courses at four of Australia’s top universities, meet and engage with business leaders and former ambassadors, debate pressing ideas in workshops, and spend time together experiencing Australian culture in May.

“While a primary goal of the Leaders Program is to support the AIC’s collaborative research activities, the relationships that are formed go much deeper,” says AIC Director Paul Ramadge.

“Indonesians and Australians genuinely connect, share stories, laugh together, and find ways to stay in touch. You can feel the collective energy – an energy that we hope is maintained via alumni networks; an energy that we hope becomes a catalyst to create lasting collaborations and partnerships.”

The Australia-Indonesia Leaders Program was launched in 2014 with the assistance of the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “We are very pleased to see the way it has evolved over these last 18 months,” says Director for Senior Diplomatic Training (Sesparlu), Odo Manuhutu.

“This second year and the third iteration of the program is arguably the best so far, with Australian participants joining the discussions throughout the program, a prominent Indonesian University taking part in giving the lectures for a day, and Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry bearing some of the costs of the visit.

“The fact that most class material is paperless and there is now an AILP App is icing on the cake for this most modern of second-track diplomacy tools.”

Since its launch, about 90 people have taken part in the program. They will stay in touch via WhatsApp groups and a soon-to-be-released alumni site.

The third Leaders Program brought together 28 delegates – for the first time from both nations – from Australian and Indonesian government ministries, the education sector, private enterprise, think-tanks and the media.

Highlights included presentations from:

  • The Indonesian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources’ Senior Adviser on Renewable Energy, Dr William Sabandar.
  • Australia’s former Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb.
  • The Victorian Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade, the Hon. Philip Dalidakis.
  • Former Australian ambassadors John McCarthy AO, Bill Farmer AO and Penny Wensley AC.
  • McKinsey Indonesia Director Emeritus Dr Raoul Oberman.

Leadership courses were provided by Monash University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Sydney, Australian National University and Indonesia’s Universitas Paramadina.

The group also attended receptions with:

  • The New South Wales Governor, His Excellency the Hon. David Hurley AC, who addressed the delegates in Bahasa Indonesia.
  • Indonesia’s Ambassador to Australia, His Excellency Nadjib Riphat Kesoema.
  • The Indonesian Consul General for New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia, Bapak Yayan Mulyana.
  • Senior staff at the Indonesian Consulate in Victoria.

A strong cultural program underpinned the formal schedule with delegates participating in excursions to Sydney Harbour, Tesla Motors, an AFL match, and a trip to Cape Schanck on Victoria’s south coast. “The photos alone can show the meaningful discussions spiced with discoveries of the real Australia that most Indonesians don’t know about,” Odo Manhutu says. “But nothing compares to seeing all this interaction in person: the exchanges of views, the fun at an Aussie Rules game at the MCG, seeing kangaroos hop alongside the group bus, and so much more.”

“I think it’s fair to say that the Leaders Program has once again reinforced the great positives and goodwill that exists between Indonesia and Australia,” says Paul Ramadge. “The participants were a highly engaged, smart group who will, I’m sure, be ambassadors for the relationship and for shared innovation.”

The fourth Australia-Indonesia Leaders Program is scheduled for November 2016 and will focus on infrastructure. The AIC and its partners are considering plans for a Leaders Program in Indonesia in 2017.

For more information on the delegates, speakers, courses, full photo gallery and video, visit the Australia-Indonesia Leaders Program portal.