Building Australia-Indonesia relations

SESPARLU

By Georgina Downer

As a partner of the Australia-Indonesia Centre, Asialink Diplomacy at The University of Melbourne was delighted to host participants in the Emerging Leaders Program on 26 November 2015. Participants included Indonesian government advisors, senior diplomats, and business people.

Asialink Diplomacy brought together leading academics from the Centre for Workplace Leadership (Jacob Workman) and the Melbourne School of Government (Associate Professor Helen Dickinson, Nicholas Reece and Dr Rachael Diprose) to speak to the delegation about leadership in the context of economic diplomacy.

For both Indonesia and Australia, economic diplomacy is more and more of a priority for our governments, including our foreign services.

Whether it’s negotiating trade deals, gaining market access for our goods and services, attracting new investment, or negotiating solutions to our trading partners’ regulatory regimes, the stakes are high and as such much energy is now expended in this field of diplomacy. With Indonesia only Australia’s 11th largest trading partner, there is also much potential to expand the economic relationship between our two countries.

How our bureaucrats and advisors can negotiate solutions in a fast-changing and competitive world requires leadership and foresight. The Centre for Workplace Leadership’s Jacob Workman presented on the mega trends in the global economy affecting organisational change and management. Many of the jobs we now do, and the way we do them, will disappear in the near future as technology and automation develop. The challenge for leaders in this environment is how to navigate through these innovations while continuing to give a clear sense of purpose and maintaining collective resilience.

Helen Dickinson from the Melbourne School of Government discussed the individual leadership skills required to address these trends. Disruptive changes in society are causing us to rethink what leadership is, and how perception and performance are now central to effective government. With multiple voices and actors emerging in the global economy, issues of legitimacy and narrative are crucial for leaders in public policy.

With these challenges in mind, Nicholas Reece and Rachael Diprose took participants through an economic diplomacy case study on live cattle exports to Indonesia. During a sensitive period of Australia-Indonesia relations, a 2011 media exposé of cattle mistreatment rapidly descended into a diplomatic controversy whose effects last to this day. With leaders on both sides struggling to deal with the social media fallout, there were many questions about how our two countries can avoid the cycle of blame and mistrust, and participants explored new ways to build a more positive narrative for the relationship.

Participants finished their day at The University of Melbourne with a tour of the Carlton Connect Initiative (CCI), a local hub for innovation between research and industry. At CCI they met an Indonesian student taking part in the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP), which aims to mentor and support student start-ups. MAP is now ranked the 8th best university accelerator program in the world, and is a demonstration of The University of Melbourne’s own approach to harnessing innovation and change.

Georgina Downer

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Georgina directs Asialink's diplomatic initiatives which aim to stimulate and influence public discussion and policy on Australia's engagement with Asia. Georgina is a former diplomat and lawyer. Prior to joining Asialink she served as a diplomat at the Australian Embassy in Tokyo, Japan from 2010 until 2014. Georgina has a Masters in Public International Law from the London School of Economics and degrees in Law and Commerce from the University of Melbourne. She is fluent in both Japanese and French.

Georgina directs Asialink's diplomatic initiatives which aim to stimulate and influence public discussion and policy on Australia's engagement with Asia. Georgina is a former diplomat and lawyer. Prior to joining Asialink she served as a diplomat at the Australian Embassy in Tokyo, Japan from 2010 until 2014. Georgina has a Masters in Public International Law from the London School of Economics and degrees in Law and Commerce from the University of Melbourne. She is fluent in both Japanese and French.

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