As Indonesia is now a strong and close neighbour, it is time to enhance a two-way exchange of students, including support from Jakarta for Australian students to study in Indonesia, according to the Director of Flinders Asia Centre.
Dr Priyambudi Sulistiyanto said that while Australia has a number of schemes available to support its citizens wanting to study or undertake internships in Indonesia, the growing Indonesian education budget should make it possible for the destination country to shoulder more responsibility.
“I’ve always championed the importance of education and people-to-people diplomacy in improving the relations between Australia and Indonesia, because governments and leaders come and go,” Dr Sulistiyanto said.
“Indonesians like to come here to study, so that is not a problem; but the more Australian students are able to study or live and have experience in Indonesia, the better,” he said.
Dr Sulistiyanto made his remarks ahead of the symposium, Contemporary Trends in Asia: Symposium on Migration Issues and Indonesian Diaspora, being held at Flinders University today and tomorrow (Friday 12 and Saturday 13 April) as part of the sixth annual INDOfest, Adelaide’s Indonesian festival of arts, food and culture.
Australian and Indonesian guest speakers including demography expert Professor Graeme Hugo from the University of Adelaide and Dr Muradi from Indonesia’s Padjadjaran University will examine issues ranging from Indonesian migration in Australia to migration and security issues in Indonesia.
Convened by Dr Sulistiyanto and his colleague Ms Firdaus, the symposium aims to develop a better understanding of the “pull and push factors” of migration to and from both countries.
“Earlier generations of Indonesians came here through the Colombo Plan or for personal reasons,” he said.
“More recently, the pull factor for Indonesians has been study, either through Australian or Indonesian Government scholarships.
“But it remains difficult for Indonesians wanting to come to Australia to work to obtain visas.”
The challenges confronting Indonesia in relation to illegal immigrants both leaving and staying temporarily in Indonesia en route to Australia will also be addressed.
“Dr Muradi, who is a Flinders graduate, will present his analysis of the role of the Indonesian police in monitoring the flow of illegal immigrants.
“Security is becoming a critical part of migration issues in Indonesia. When we talk about migration, we cannot separate it from security because we need to know who these people are and their background.”
Dr Sulistiyanto said part of the symposium will be dedicated to finding common ground between Flinders researchers and their Indonesian counterparts with a view to developing ongoing research collaboration.