Australian Journalist Scholarships
The Institute aims to encourage improved mutual understanding of the complexities of the two countries among the Australian and Indonesian media and to make Indonesians more aware of Australian expertise in the making of television documentaries and films.
The Institute maintained a strong media program during the four years from 1995 to 1999. The senior editors meetings, journalist scholarships, media exchanges and media training were the key features of the program.
Australian journalist scholarships to Indonesia
Scholarships were provided to Australian journalists to study in Indonesia and Indonesian journalists to study in Australia, enabling journalists to be better informed about each other's country. Journalists working for Australian country and city newspapers as well as national radio and television networks received awards to study Indonesian language and culture. During the four-year period 27 Australian awardees completed language scholarship programs. Among the Australian journalists supported were:
Lindsay Murdoch from the Age
John Schauble from the Age
Hilton Kolbe from the Canberra Times
Rachel Hill from the Canberra Times
Don Greenlees from the Australian
Steve Sharp from Community Broadcasting Association of Australian Government
Tom Fayle from ABC Radio
Marian Wilkinson from the Sydney Morning Herald
Linda Morris from the Sydney Morning Herald
Aaron Patrick from the Australian Financial Review
Leigh Murray from AAP Information Services
Lindsay Murdoch, of the Age, and Don Greenlees, of the Australian, both went on to become Jakarta-based correspondents for their respective publications.
Senior editors meetings
Senior editors meetings have been held three times in the reporting period. The series of senior editors meetings arose from a decision by the Australia-Indonesia Institute to devote more of its resources to senior-level media exchanges and to encourage wider and more serious reporting from each country on the other. Each meeting was a significant and successful event in the context of Australia's widening engagement with Indonesia.
The aim of such meetings is to include a wide and representative range of senior media figures from both nations. The agenda involves not just the bilateral relationship but developments in both nations, and topics including the rise of 'One Nation' in Australia and Indonesia's East Timor policy. The visits by the editors have been designed, on each occasion, to include interviews with political figures across the spectrum.
Senior editors and HE Mr John McCarthy, Ambassador to Indonesia, meet with President BJ Habibie during the senior editors meeting in Jakarta, April 1999.
1996 Jakarta meeting: Thirteen of Australia's most senior editors and senior editors from major Indonesian newspapers and media outlets, including the major TV network SCTV, attended the May 1996 senior editors meeting in Jakarta. The Australian participants met with senior political, academic and business interlocutors including President Soeharto who took questions on East Timor policy and Indonesia's political evolution. The Australians had a meeting with one of the most prominent media critics of the Soeharto government whose publication had been recently banned. There was a surprising degree of frankness in discussion at many of these meetings, particularly in relation to Indonesian domestic and foreign policy issues and developments in Indonesian society generally.
1997 Sydney meeting: The December 1997 senior editors meeting in Sydney attracted a strong Australian representation and a good delegation from Indonesia. The meeting discussed the political and economic situation and the role of minorities in both countries. It also examined the religious situation and tensions in Indonesia as well as East Timor issues. The Indonesians were interested in Australia's Wik legislation, Australian media values in covering Indonesia and the Olympic preparations. Expert briefings and meetings with senior politicians and social commentators were important features of the program. The Indonesians visited Canberra where they met with the Prime Minister, Mr Howard, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Mr Fischer, and other political leaders.
1999 Jakarta meeting: The senior editors meeting in Jakarta in April 1999 attracted 37 senior Australian and Indonesian editors. The 16 Australian editors, from both the print and electronic media, met with President BJ Habibie and other leading Indonesians in political, social and business affairs. They also visited East Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmao who was then under house arrest. The meeting with President Habibie saw a vigorous question period dealing with the forthcoming East Timor ballot, security on the ground, the role of the Indonesian military in East Timor and human rights issues. There was also a meeting with Defence Minister and Armed Forces Commander General Wiranto.
The 1999 meeting took on a special importance due to the impending Indonesian election and discussion of East Timor was of particular interest to the Australian editors. The meeting gave an invaluable insight into the affairs and thinking of an important neighbour and provided insight into the unfolding events in East Timor and Australia-Indonesia relations.
Media exchange program
A range of Institute sponsored visits by Indonesian journalists and filmmakers to Australia took place between 1996 and 1998.
Dr Salim Said, Chairman of the Jakarta Arts Council and Head of the International Promotions Section of the Indonesian National Film Council, visited the Melbourne Film Festival in 1996 and introduced the Indonesian film And the Moon Dances. Mr Said, a journalist with Gatra magazine, also visited major film institutions in Melbourne and other cities and lectured to students at Monash University's Centre of Southeast Asian Studies.
A journalist from Huluan newspaper in Padang, Sumatra, attended the Pacific Area Newspaper in Education Conference in Hobart in September 1996. While in Australia the journalist liaised with the media faculty at the University of Tasmania, and obtained valuable insights into the work of the Launceston Examiner.
In 1996 two Indonesian filmmakers participated in the Fourth International Documentary Conference and gave public lectures and special interest presentations.
Film editor Sendot Sahid visited Australia to research Australian film-making expertise in 1997.
The Institute funded a visit by Dr Syafi'i Anwar, Editor-in-Chief of UMMAT, the largest Islamic magazine in Indonesia in July 1998. Dr Anwar, a prominent specialist in Islamic politics, presented a paper, 'Emerging Trends in Islamic Thought: Civil Society and Development in SouthEast Asia', at a conference organised by the University of Melbourne and Deakin University. Dr Anwar also visited Canberra for useful meetings with government and academic contacts.
These Indonesia-Australia exchange programs provided an opportunity to strengthen linkages between Australian and Indonesian media organisations and encouraged greater interest and informed reporting of Australia-Indonesia affairs and increased awareness of Australian skills in print and electronic media and film-making. The program also assisted with the development of a body of Indonesian media commentators with real experience of life and work in Australia, a broad understanding of how and why Australia's society is changing, and an understanding of Australian people and their values.
These exchanges have proved to be important in seeking to achieve a broader coverage of common interest news items about each country in the other and to influence community perceptions about each country in the other.
In late 1998, as a contribution to Indonesia's transition to publicly accountable broadcasting, the Media Research Centre was provided with a grant to undertake a course to train broadcast
managers to operate in accordance with the public broadcaster model. The program included a component to train personnel to make independent decisions about editorial philosophy and content.
The Institute teamed up with the Centre for Democratic Institutions, Murdoch University and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) to deliver a course on public broadcasting for 15 senior Indonesian media members of state-run Indonesian television and radio in May 1999. The course was an important avenue for assisting Indonesia's transition to a more open and democratic society and ensured useful collaborative linkages for Murdoch University and the ABC with the Indonesian Directorate of Radio, Television and Film.
The Institute sponsored a well-attended media skills training workshop for students from 30 different university publications, run by the Press Advocacy Institute of Indonesia (IAPA Institut Advokasi Pers Indonesia) in Jakarta in March 1999.