Australia Indonesia Essay Series

This bilingual series showcases leading Australian and Indonesian writers and thinkers reflecting on the issues that they see as important challenges and preoccupations facing their societies today and into the future. The series aims to highlight the ways in which the peoples of Australia and Indonesia have common and shared hopes, values and challenges.

In 2016, The Australia-Indonesia Centre commissioned the first of a series of essays aimed at bringing new voices and perspectives from Australians and Indonesians telling their stories.

The series began by asking essayists to respond to the question ‘What does it mean to be Indonesian/Australian?’ and invited them to reflect on the issues that they see as important challenges and preoccupations facing their societies today and into the future. Our writers will also consider the ways in which Australians and Indonesians might share and read each others’ stories, thereby gaining greater insight into our complex and often complementary cultures.

The essays in this series come from leading writers and commentators from Indonesia and Australia each looking closely at their own society, cultures and political situations. They have been published through the Centre’s site and in The Guardian Australia.


Alice Pung is an award-winning Australian writer whose books include Unpolished Gem, Her Father’s Daughter and Laurinda. She edited Growing Up Asian in Australia, a collection of stories which has now become a high school textbook, and Unpolished Gem has been translated and published in Indonesia, German and Italian. Alice’s books have also been published in the US and UK. She is currently the Artist in Residence at Janet Clarke Hall, the University of Melbourne, and writes frequently for Australian magazines and newspapers. In 2016, Alice was RMIT’s Established Writer on the Writers on Cultural Exchange Program to Sun Yat Sen University, Guangzhou. She is an Ambassador of the 100 Story Building and Room to Read.

Leila S. Chudori is a novelist and journalist at Tempo magazine. She is also the author of 9 dari Nadira, Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia, 2009. In December 2013, Pulang (Home) received Indonesia’s preeminent prize for literature, the Khatulistiwa Literary Award for a work of outstanding literature. Home examines the tragedy of political exiles during Suharto’s regime (1965-1998) forced out of Indonesia after the 1965 massacres. It has been translated into English, French, German and Italian.

Eliza Vitri Handayani has been writing and publishing since she was in her teens. Her novel From Now On Everything Will Be Different came out in 2015 and was launched internationally. The book’s launch at Ubud Writers & Readers Festival was cancelled due to police warnings, and Eliza protested by wearing to the festival T-shirts printed with excerpts from her novel. Her short works have appeared in places including the Griffith Review, Asia Literary Review, Exchanges Journal, Magdalene, Jakarta Post, Tempo, and Inside Indonesia. In 2016 Eliza was selected as a WrICE fellow and participated in residencies in China and Australia. Eliza has appeared at Northern Territory Writers Festival, Makassar International Writers Festival, and Melbourne Writers Festival. Eliza manages InterSastra, a platform for literary exchange between Indonesia and the world.

Sanaz Fotouhi is an Iranian-Australian writer, filmmaker and academic. She holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of New South Wales. She is interested in diasporic and migrant narratives. Her book The Literature of the Iranian Diaspora: Meaning and Identity since the Islamic Revolution was published in March 2015 (I.B. Tauris).  Sanaz is one of the founding members of the Persian Film Festival in Australia, and the co-producer of the multi-award winning documentary Love Marriage in Kabul.  Sanaz is currently the Assistant Executive Director of the Asia Pacific Writers and Translators, (



Pung, Alice; Chudori, Leila S; Handayani, Eliza Vitri; Fotouhi, Sanaz (2017): Australia Indonesia Essay Series. figshare. Paper.