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UWA Excursion Highlights the Importance of Learning Bahasa Indonesia

More than 150 secondary students from across Western Australia recently attended an excursion at UWA to learn more about the importance of learning Bahasa Indonesia.

The event, which was initiated by Indonesian teacher at Rehoboth Christian School, Ibu Elly Kurniawan, brought together a range of speakers and workshop facilitators, including Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia, Ibu Listiana Operanata, Director of the WA State Office of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Sally Dawkins, and ACICIS Secretariat Officer, Jade Sciberras.

In her speech, Ibu Listiana shared her personal story of learning English and how it broadened her perspective on life. She encouraged students to keep studying bahasa Indonesia and to visit and live in Indonesia in the future. “By learning a foreign language you learn about the world” she said. Ibu Listiana mentioned that Indonesian is a relatively accessible language to learn because it has always been the language of trade.

Sally Dawkins reiterated the message and that trade with Indonesia dates back many centuries including between First Nations people. She believed that bahasa Indonesia is a logical choice of language to learn because:

  • Indonesia is the fourth most populous country, and third largest democracy in the world

  • Indonesia’s economy grew 5% in 2022 and will do again in 2023

  • By 2030, Indonesia will be in the top ten of countries with the highest GDP and will be fourth by 2050

  • Indonesia is an ‘exceptionally digital society’ and home to many unicorn startup companies, including Gojek, which is worth US$10 billion. Countries are looking at Indonesia for the next generation of coders

  • The economy has enormous potential for the future such as nickel mining, film, gaming and virtual reality industries. Much of Indonesia’s economy is complementary to Australia’s economy so there are many opportunities to work collaboratively

  • Australia and Indonesia share maritime boundaries which is very important in areas such as defence, emergency services, border security and agriculture

  • Indonesia is a ‘mega diverse’ country and a wonderful place to work in the areas of sustainable marine and rainforest development

  • More and more Indonesians can and want to travel to Australia and deepen ties with us.

Ms Dawkins emphasised that Australia’s ties with Indonesia always needs care and renewal and lamented the fact that Indonesian is an ‘at risk’ language in Australian schools and universities. There are only 760 Year 12 students currently studying the language.

“That means you are our best hope for this ancient relationship going forward into the future” she said. “By speaking a common language you will be able to shape and build the bricks to better connect with our Indonesian friends and add those bricks to the bridge that has connected our countries for so long”

Jade Scibberas gained attention by holding a krupuk eating competition with John Septimus Roe Anglican School taking out the winning spot. Jade encouraged students to take the opportunity who were interested in studying at university to spend a short course, semester or year at an Indonesian university which can be credited towards their degree.  Tertiary students can access up to $70,000 in funding to study abroad through the New Columbo Plan.

Past ACICIS students Craig spoke of his experience and students from Rehoboth Christian College sang “Indonesia Pusaka” with accompanied dancers.

This event couldn’t have happened without the hard work and generosity of UWA Lecturers, Dr Jess Kruk and Ibu Dr Theresia Gondoseputro and the staff from the Konsul Jenderal Republik Indonesia (KJRI). After morning tea, Dr Kruk held a language workshop on Indonesian contemporary music, while KJRI staff ran a tarian workshop, followed by an angklung workshop where Year 8-10 students learned to play a traditional song from North Sulawesi. Meanwhile, Year 11 and 12 students from all schools interviewed each other in small groups and watching a short film to practise for the upcoming ATAR practical examination.

The excursion was a valuable educational experience for all who attended. Thank you to the brilliant students and hard-working teachers from Rehoboth Christian College, Peter Moyes Anglican Community School, John Septimus Roe Anglican Community School, Tranby College, Mother Teresa Catholic College, Bunbury Catholic College, Mater Dei Catholic College and North Shore Christian Grammar School.