People power

Fajar Djati

Meet Fajar Djati, a young Indonesian who is set to help his nation’s indigenous peoples thanks to his Master of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development.

Fajar Djati came to ANU to study Australian Indigenous policy, but he will leave with a new understanding and interest in the indigenous policy of Indonesia, his home-country.

“Previously I worked for the Freeport Indonesia mine in West Papua,” Fajar says. “I am quite ashamed of what I thought back then because I had a lot of prejudice against indigenous peoples. I thought many West Papuans were lazy, complacent and didn’t want to work hard, but when I came here to Australia I met with a lot of West Papuan activists, including some asylum seekers, and starting from that moment, I realised it was a different story for West Papua.

“I have a new perspective since doing the Master of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development (MAAPD), and learning about Aboriginal cases, and all the history, the experiences they have had. Even though I’m not going to work in Australia, it’s taught me how indigenous policy should and shouldn’t be done, when Indonesia is mature enough to recognise indigenous peoples there.”

Fajar says he would now like to return to West Papua, working as an educator in local communities.

He has already been able to demonstrate the transferability of the Indigenous policy he’s studied in the MAAPD, having successfully secured an internship with UNESCO to work with indigenous peoples in East Timor.

“One of the most important requirements to getting the internship was a focus on indigenous policy, and I was able to say that what I’m studying is relevant to East Timor. I had to go through interviews and written tests and it was very competitive, but it proved that Indigenous policy at ANU sells itself. I hope when I try to get a paid job it’s just as easy!”

Fajar is studying at ANU through an AusAID-funded scholarship, which he was offered at the same time as scholarships from Boston University and the Erasmus program in Europe. He says he’s pleased he chose ANU.

“The MAAPD has really allowed me to interact with people who have been working in Indigenous policy for many years and also with professionals. It’s a really great learning space, one I couldn’t find anywhere but Australia.

“My classmates are the best learning resources. With all their experiences, that’s something I couldn’t find in any journals or readings. Whenever I have an essay due, I always ask for their opinions.

“I particularly like my course in Australian Indigenous policy development because the class is really small, only five or six students, and most of them have been working for Aboriginal affairs for years, and I am the only newbie there, so it’s a really intense environment where I’m forced to learn and be really proactive.”

Fajar originally came to ANU to study public administration, but says his decision to change to the MAAPD has left him with more practical skills.

“Now I learn to interact with and design programs for people on the ground, not for governments. Dealing with people is always more practical, I think.”

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