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Alumni a bridge to Indonesian-Australian relations
Indonesian alumni of Australian
universities are poised to play a greater role
in boosting ties between the two countries,
according to Dr Hetifah Sjaifudian.
A member of Indonesia’s parliament and
commission for education, youth, sport,
culture and tourism, Dr Sjaifudian was
awarded a PhD in Asian Studies at
Flinders in 2005 with a thesis on the role
of citizen forums in reforming Indonesia.
She was in Australia this month,
sponsored by Flinders University, as one of
50 Current and Emerging Women Leaders
in the Asia Pacific at the Advance
Women’s Leadership Summit in Sydney.
“I feel very optimistic about the
relationship between our two countries,”
Dr Sjaifudian said.
“I really expect that alumni will contribute
to this relationship because many are
now becoming leaders in different areas
in Indonesia,” she said.
“We feel that half of our heart is still in
Australia and if I have a chance to change
policy at home, I remember our ties here.
“The Australian Embassy is also becoming
more active and creating networking
opportunities for alumni. It’s a very
Dr Sjaifudian said that despite tensions
around issues such as asylum seekers,
drug trafficking and illegal fishing , last
year’s visits of Prime Minister Gillard and
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
reflect the positive mood of Australian-
Indonesian relations at present.
“I think we are doing very well. Several months
ago I met a group of Australian
parliamentarians and we discussed a lot of
ideas, such as how to encourage Australian
investment in Indonesia that has good
“We discussed education in particular. We really
hope Australia will support us to increase
educational opportunities for Indonesians. You
already provide many scholarships.
Addressing Indonesia’s special education needs
The educational needs of Indonesian
children with disabilities are the focus of
an Australian Government AusAID
Australian Leadership Awards (ALA)
Fellowship program currently being led by
The six-week program gives a group of 20
academics and education leaders from
universities and government departments
in West and East Java the opportunity to
hear from experts in the field of special
education and to spend time in South
Australian metropolitan and regional
Dr Kerry Bissaker, program leader and
Associate Dean of Community and
International Engagement in Flinders
School of Education, said the move to
inclusive education in Indonesia over the
past five years has been directed at
children with disabilities who can cope
with a mainstream education.
“Some of the children in the inclusive
schools have vision or hearing impairment
or high-functioning autism, and are
intellectually capable of managing a
mainstream curriculum,” Dr Bissaker said.
“But there is a large number of children
who are located in special schools or who
don’t have access to any schooling
because of their special needs,” she said.
“It is the educational needs of these
children that we’re most keen to address
through this ALA Fellowship program.”
The program participants will undertake
intensive lectures and workshops, as well
as placements in local urban and regional
public and Catholic schools.
Mr Udin Saud from the Indonesia
University of Education in Bandung,
West Java, said the program had made
him aware of his own misconceptions of
“I now have a broader knowledge of
inclusive education. It is not simply about
mainstream schooling but how to allow
children with disabilities to learn
successfully, based on their potential,”
Mr Saud said.
Ms Aryani Wrastari, a Flinders graduate at
Airlangga University in Surabaya, East Java,
said many problems arise from a lack of
information for parents and teachers of
children with disabilities.
“A research project we conducted last year
found that many parents simply did not
know where to go or what to do for their
children with special needs,”
Ms Wrastari said.
“The lack of information has effectively
excluded these families from the community,”
Dr Bissaker said that as well as giving
participants knowledge and practical skills
they can adapt to their own situations, the
program is the basis for ongoing collaboration.
(from left) Mr Udin Saud, Dr Kerry Bissaker and
Ms Aryani Wrastari
Dr Hetifah Sjaifudian discusses regional cooperation with Professor Malcolm Cook
Teenagers are ignoring online dangers
Teenage users of internet and social media
are engaged in alarming rates of risky
behaviour online, according to Dr
Mubarak Rahamathulla of Flinders
University’s School of Social Work and
Dr Rahamathulla’s recently completed a
survey of the internet habits of 501
young people found around one in five
had a physical meeting with a stranger
whom they had met on the Internet.
Forty per cent had received photos from
strangers, and 12 per cent had sent
photos to strangers.
“This study shows that young people are
playfully taking risks in the cyber world,”
Dr Rahamathulla said.
Dr Rahamathulla also found evidence of
aggression: 13 per cent said they had
received threatening messages, while five
per cent admitted to sending them.
Dr Rahamathulla said many are visiting
sites on terrorism (five per cent), weapon
making (13 per cent) and computer
hacking (15 per cent), and almost a
quarter of the respondents had pretended
to be someone else online.
“It’s a cyber world where ethics are minimally
respected,” Dr Rahamathulla said.
“Young people feel they are safe in cyber
world, but they operating in a world
where they are unprotected and totally
vulnerable – there is a big gap between
the reality of cyberspace and their
understanding of the reality of
Average use of computers was around 17
per hours a week, and with almost half
the respondents saying they had argued
with their parents about their internet
use, Dr Rahamathulla feels that the
danger of creating a generational rift
within households over technology use
“This research implies that many young
people feel that their parents aren’t
competent enough to help them,” he said.
He said it was vital that families took a
positive, pro-active interest in what children
were doing online to provide guidance.
Schools also need to take responsibility, Dr
Rahamathulla said. He said that most
children simultaneously access social media
sites during online study, and mobile phones
allow students to circumvent filters on school
“The study sends a strong message to both
parents and schools,” Dr Rahamathulla said.
“Your kids are not safe on the internet – that is
definite – and families, schools and society
need to show more interest in the activities of
children in the cyber world.”
Dr Mubarak Rahamathulla
Devilish politics tests parties on climate change
Australia should look to bilateral and
regional partnerships for progress on
climate change given the political risks
and costs of pursuing unilateral action at
home, according to Flinders University
Professor Malcolm Cook.
The Dean of the School of International
Studies told the Developing Sustainable
Societies: Challenges and Perspectives
conference in Adelaide this month that
four political leaders have paid a high
price for trying to deal with the
problematic issue of climate change.
“Australia’s political leaders are finding it
extremely difficult to find a politically
sustainable approach to addressing
climate change within Australia,”
Professor Cook said.
“John Howard suffered from being
perceived as not doing enough as did his
successor as leader of the Liberal party,
Brendan Nelson. Prime Minister Gillard,
like Brendan Nelson’s successor Malcolm
Turnbull, is suffering from trying to do too
much too quickly. Kevin Rudd suffered for
flip-flopping,” he said.
“The devilish politics of climate change in
Australia likely mean that the country’s
progress towards a politically accepted
approach to climate change will continue
to be unsteady and uncertain at the cost
of political leadership careers.
“The connection between global and
domestic approaches and momentum will
likely also stay weak. Clearly Australians
want their government to act on climate
change, they are just not sure how and no
leader so far has figured it out either.
“This has opened up scope for middle
power Australia to seek bilateral and
regional approaches to climate change
abatement and adjustment focused on
development aid and technological
“These have proven less politically
damaging and more sustainable than
efforts to contribute to the United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change
process and to introducing a domestic price on
The Developing Sustainable Societies:
Challenges and Perspectives conference
included speakers from the influential Chinese
Academy of Social Sciences, University of
Adelaide and University of South Australia.
Climate change action required. Photo © Evgeny Kuklev
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