Q&A with Alison Martin

Alison Martin is an adviser to the European Climate Foundation, based in Sydney, advocating for more effective policy and action on climate change. She has worked in communications, media, marketing and development for a range of organisations in Australia, the UK and Indonesia, including a member of the New South Wales Parliament.

3196645Alison holds a Masters degree in Human Rights Law and Policy from the University of NSW and a Journalism degree from the University of Technology Sydney. She was an AusAID Australian Youth Ambassador for Development based in Jakarta, where she worked for a local NGO and World Vision Indonesia.

Alison has also written about the Australia-Indonesia relationship for outlets including SBS News and New Matilda.

How did you first get involved in the Australia-Indonesia relationship? Where do you see it headed?
I participated in the Australian Youth Ambassador Program through AusAID. As Communications Consultant with World Vision Indonesia, I supervised a communications project for development programs in the field, including interviewing and gathering information from community members and staff, undertaking research and making recommendations.

I was also Media and Communications Adviser for a local Indonesian NGO where I consulted on policy, media and communications strategy and also helped to coordinate humanitarian response. This included travel in Java to evaluate microfinance projects, and to Padang following the earthquake in September 2009, helping to coordinate the installation of water treatment units in some of the worst affected villages.

In terms of where the Australia-Indonesia relationship is headed – I hope that we can learn from recent years when we’ve seen the bilateral relationship suffer at a government level, revealing even greater need for strong people-to-people links at other levels and in other sectors. A truly cooperative relationship between Australia and Indonesia needs to have stronger and deeper connections between individuals and groups across a range of sectors and areas in order to withstand weaknesses at the government level. The relationship is about so much more than whether or not the two leaders happen to get along.

How did CAUSINDY change your perspective on the Australia-Indonesia relationship?
My background in the Australia/ Indonesia relationship was in the development/aid sector so Causindy provided an opportunity to meet people from other sectors that play important roles – government, business, the creative industries and more.

What advice would you share with anyone thinking of applying this year?
Go for it! CAUSINDY is an invaluable opportunity to connect with a range of passionate and talented people, including leading experts and commentators on the Australia/Indonesia relationship. But more importantly, it’s a unique opportunity to connect with people who love karaoke as much as you do.

Interested in joining CAUSINDY this year? Applications to become a delegate to CAUSINDY 2014 are open until the 1st of July, 2014.

Posted in Q&A

Q&A with Natalie Sambhi

Natalie Sambhi is an analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute focussing on Australia-Indonesia relations, and the editor of its blog The Strategist. Natalie’s research interests include political and security affairs in Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

Natalie will join CAUSINDY again in 2014, moderating this year’s panel discussion on defence and security.

Tell us a bit about your own background.

After graduating with degrees in Asian Studies and International Relations, I briefly worked at the Department of Defence and lived in Indonesia. Being passionate about defence, I founded my own blog Security Scholar in 2010 and started writing more about military and security issues.

I’ve now been an analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) for two years where I focus on Australia-Indonesia relations. I’m also proud to be an editor of ASPI’s official blog, The Strategist.

How did you first get involved in the Australia-Indonesia relationship? Where do you see it headed?

My mum’s family is Indonesian so I had no choice but to get an early exposure to Australia-Indonesia relations! I’ve been lucky to be able to see Australia and it’s attitude to the region through my family’s eyes. But my professional interest in the relationship has grown the more I see how important the relationship is to Australia’s place in the world. Since 2009, I’ve increasingly focussed on the country, particularly on Indonesian military and defence issues.

I’m optimistic about the relationship, despite the ups and downs. Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve seen Australian attitudes gradually become warmer and more receptive towards Indonesia, especially in the political realm, so I think the relationship will remain on a steady upwards trajectory in the long run. I hope Indonesian popular culture, including films like ‘The Raid’ continue to show Australians that Indonesia is more than Bali. That same goes in reverse, it’s up to us to show Australia in a different light to our neighbours.

I believe the more the paths of Australians and Indonesians criss-cross, the more we’ll have to learn about each other–including from our mistakes.

What are you working on at the moment?

As an analyst at ASPI, I’m always thinking and writing about Australia-Indonesia defence and strategic relations.

However, I’m currently in Washington DC as a visiting fellow by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), where I’ve been looking at the US rebalance to the Asia Pacific and American expectations of Indonesia’s role as a regional power and global actor.

It’s been interesting to compare Australian and American perspectives on Indonesia: it occupies such a prominent part of our regional strategic thinking, but for the US, Indonesia is seen only as one of ten ASEAN states and even then, only part of a much larger Asia Pacific region.

How did CAUSINDY change your perspective on the Australia-Indonesia relationship?

Being so absorbed by the defence and strategic issues, it was really refreshing to see the bilateral relationship from both Australian and Indonesian private sector and NGO perspectives. It’s made me think harder about how my research supports the relationship more broadly. Being with such a diverse group of people, I was able to find more creative ways to articulate defence and strategic issues to a wider audience.   

What advice would you share with anyone thinking of applying this year?

For 2014 applicants, I would say, let your passion for the relationship show and be prepared to come up with practical, grassroots solutions to building better ties.