Indonesia is blessed with a bounty of natural resources and a breathtaking natural environment spread across a chain of thousands of islands to Australia’s north.
Yet this developing nation with a burgeoning population of more than 260 million is facing the dilemma of providing jobs and industry opportunities while ensuring the health of its marine and environmental ecosystems.
This is where Southern Cross University has stepped in to share its knowledge and skill with 15 Eastern Indonesian experts in marine science and fisheries now visiting Australia, after the University received an Australia Awards Fellowship from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to deliver professional development training in marine science, fisheries and tourism from Southern Cross researchers and staff.
The group is drawn from government, research organisations and tertiary education institutes in the provinces of Maluku and North Maluku in Eastern Indonesia.
“The main outcome of the program is to develop a cohort of leaders with new knowledge and capacity to introduce best practice in marine sciences and fisheries education and management in Eastern Indonesia,” said Associate Professor Amanda Reichelt-Brushett from the School of Environment, Science and Engineering.
The four-week program covers fisheries and aquaculture management, waste issues, marine protected areas and marine tourism, all tailored to the challenges being faced in Eastern Indonesia.
Maluku and North Maluku are economically deprived eastern provinces of Indonesia, dependent on agriculture, fisheries, mining and increasingly on tourism for economic development. Maluku in the southern region shares maritime borders with Australia.
“The region will benefit from improved skills in marine and fisheries environmental management and the development of professional and business skills in marine research, ecology, marine park management, fishing, sustainability, government policy development and tourism,” Professor Reichelt-Brushett said.
“We’re also looking at opportunities to pursue joint research projects between Australia and Maluku.”
So far the Fellows have been based at the University’s Lismore campus. After Easter, they will move to the National Marine Science Centre in Coffs Harbour.
Field trips have been organised for Hastings Point, Bribie Island, Cape Byron Marine Park, Solitary Islands Marine Park and Sydney. Industry site visits will cover marine and fisheries organisations and businesses focusing on marine management, fish processing, aquaculture, storage, packaging and marketing.
One of the Australia Awards Fellows is Endang Jamal, an aquaculture lecturer in the Department of Aquatic Resource Management, Fisheries and Marine Science Faculty at Pattimura University in the city of Ambon.
“This program is a wonderful opportunity for me to broaden my knowledge and experience in a developed country with our neighbour, Australia,” she said.
“I am meeting outstanding lecturers and professors here at Southern Cross. I am very impressed with the Fellowship curriculum. It’s very well organised.
“I’m excited to take my experiences here back to my students.”
Ms Jamal plans to pursue a PhD next year with Southern Cross University.
The Fellowship Program will enhance marine and fisheries leadership in a province with 1,340 islands contributing 20 per cent of the marine production of Indonesia. It is the most important industry in these two provinces that has been nominated by the Indonesian government as a centre for fish production. Maluku and North Maluku require enhanced fisheries knowledge and capacity building and seeks to develop global best practice in marine and fisheries education and training, management, marine tourism, conservation, fish processing and marketing. Maluku is the fourth poorest province in Indonesia and the marine and fisheries sector is crucial in poverty alleviation.
The province is also developing its oil and gas offshore mining, with companies drilling in the Massela bloc northwest of Darwin. This area will experience environmental challenges for marine resources and needs environmental management expertise.
Southern Cross University and Indonesia
Southern Cross has been working with the University of Pattimura (UNIPATTI) since 2012 on research activities including internationally published joint research on the impact of artisanal gold mining in Buru Island, and co-hosting the 13th International Small Islands Conference in Tual Kei Islands 2013.
The University has a current Memorandum Of Understanding with UNIPATTI and Politeknik Tual (Tual State Fisheries Polytechnic).
Media contact: Sharlene King 02 6620 3508 or 0429 661 349