Revive Indonesian Studies in Australia!
BRISBANE – Study about Indonesia become a popular subject in the 1970’s. Now Indonesian Studies might disappear from Australian education system. The changing of the trend started to happen when Indonesia faced the phase of democratic transition after reformation that follows by lots of situation that has significant impact to the quality and dynamic of relationship between two countries. The independence of Timor Leste (East Timor) from Indonesia, Bali Bomb I and Bali Bomb II and the Bomb tragedy at the Australian embassy in Jakarta all contributed to taking away the positive image of Indonesia in the view of Australian. As the impact of these, there were at least 15 Indonesian Studies at big universities in Australia were closed at the end of 2012. The trend continues with the closure of Indonesian Studies at UNSW at the end of 2013 with the reason of the small number of student enrollment.
This trend has attracted the attention of the Indonesian community in Australia. “We need to take care of Indonesian study in Australia. Indonesian government need to give good support in order to take care of the strategic interest both countries in the future,” said Malia in front of President Joko Widodo at official visit in relation to G20 meeting in Brisbane at the end of 2014. Malia who is a woman that has been dedicated her life to teaching Indonesian Studies at schools in Brisbane thinks, this decrease of student interest not only to Indonesian Studies, but also to other Asian country study as well. “Still we can’t just allow the situation and wait until the valuable program dies,” she said.
Indonesian government is expected to be able to convince the Australian government how important to strengthen Indonesian study now, more than ever exists. At the year of 2006, Julia Bishop who was that time become Education and Federal Minister ever said that Indonesian language has become a strategic language to be known by Australian student. At that time, Bishop gave her decision that before the campus decide to close Indonesian Study Subject, the campus need to ask for government approval. The same idea from Minister Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister Julia Gillard issued Asian Century White Paper-with PM Tony Abbott with the decision of New Colombo Plan, the basis of this decision was about how important it is for Australian student to learn about Indonesia.
Unfortunately, the public statement from Australian government seems have not much impact to the interest of Indonesian study. For that Indonesian government and Indonesian citizen in Australia need to be more pro-active to find solutions for that problem.
Former Garuda Indonesia’s General Manager in Brisbane, Aryo Wijoseno, expressed his concern about Indonesian study, that if we do not strengthen Indonesian Studies, it might have the effect on the relationship between Indonesia and Australia. “It might have the potential of increased misunderstanding between the two countries, the negative attitude between the two countries, and it might also block bilateral communication. If that happen, it will affect the stability at Asia Pacific and South East Asia in general,” said the man that was born in Surakarta, Central Java, Indonesia. Aryo, the GM of Garuda Indonesia in Perth now, expects all the elements in Australia, such as the Indonesian citizen, Indonesian government representatives and Australian Government to give serious attention to this subject.
(A.K. Umam/Shandra A.P.)