Connected by sea: youth conference boosts Australia-Indonesia relationship

04 October 2018

Thirty young people from Australia and Indonesia came together in September 2018 for the annual CAUSINDY conference in eastern Indonesia’s largest city, Makassar.

Now in its seventh year, the conference is a platform for young leaders to create a stronger bilateral relationship.

“We bring together some of the brightest minds in the Australia-Indonesia relationship,” said Jay Stevens, CAUSINDY CEO.

“[They] have expertise from various sectors to offer one another, with the aim of building stronger community, business and government ties.”

The theme of this year’s conference, “connected by sea”, pays tribute to the long history of oceanic trade and people-to-people links between the two countries.

In the 19th century, Makassan traders regularly visited northern Australia seeking teripang, or sea cucumbers, which they would ship on to the Chinese market.

Richard Matthews, the Australian Consul General in Makassar, emphasised the importance of bringing young people together to grow people-to-people links.

“CAUSINDY plays an important role in developing greater understanding and interaction between our two countries,” he said.

“I was very glad to see CAUSINDY take place in Makassar, the gateway to Indonesia’s fast growing eastern provinces, which are connected by sea, history and important people-to-people links with Australia.”

Meaningful impact on the relationship has been a key focus for the CAUSINDY team since its inception, and many conference alumni are now in positions of influence across a range of sectors, according to Jay.

“Post-conference, CAUSINDY provides an ongoing platform for these leaders to connect with one another in hope that these relationships can be leveraged for projects and collaboration across community, business and government sectors in their respective careers,” he said.

Bambang Nugroho, a 2018 Indonesian delegate who works for an international refugee agency in eastern Indonesia, said the conference was a great opportunity to build connections to strengthen the relationship.

“I met a participant who works on child protection, which overlaps with my line of work, and we agreed to collaborate in the future,” he said.

“I believe these are the essence of the conference: to share ideas, to build connections, and to bridge differences.”

Beyond the 30 delegates, there was a dedicated team of volunteers putting the conference together.

Jay, a volunteer himself, said a sense of common purpose and a desire to advance the positive side of the bilateral relationship drives the team to dedicate so much time and effort to organise this large-scale, international event.

“All of our team have fostered strong connections with one another's countries through in country programs, travelling, family heritage and so on,” he said.

“We know that only the bad events occurring in the relationship are shown on Australian media, and similarly Indonesia media, and we see the potential for the relationship to flourish, just as our connections with one another do.”

Respecting and valuing diversity is also key to the ethos of the conference organisers.

“Being part of a team that works together irrespective of culture, religion and gender for a common goal of improving our countries’ relationship is truly powerful and invaluable,” said Jay.

“CAUSINDY is paving a path for a strong and trusted bilateral relationship for many years to come.”

ANU College of Asia & the Pacific is a proud supporter of CAUSINDY 2018. To see all of the highlights from this year’s conference, visit our photo gallery.

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Updated:  24 April, 2017/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team