7 March 2013

A leading Australian university will collaborate with one of Indonesia’s largest universities to examine how laws and informal processes deal with community conflict in Indonesia.

Plans under way for this significant collaboration between The University of Queensland (UQ) and the Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) follow a successful workshop in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, last month (February 4-6).

The workshop involved delegates from UQ's School of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS) and the Department of International Relations at UGM.

Dr Morgan Brigg from POLSIS said the research collaboration would examine the interplay of legislated and informal responses to inter-communal conflict in Indonesia.

“This topic is a major concern throughout the decentralised archipelago, with a parliamentary bill seeking to regulate mass organisations currently the subject of much debate in Indonesia,” Dr Brigg said.

“The Indonesian parliament seems set to approve a bill to amend the law governing mass organisations but human rights groups and experts have warned against the repressive provisions of the new legislation.

“They argue the new law could undermine the rights to freedom of association, expression and religion, which are essential in democratic society.

“POLSIS has been working on collaboration with UGM colleagues for some time, and this workshop represents a significant step in taking our collaboration to a new level.”

The workshop also focused on professional development and exchange, with POLSIS staff discussing work-in-progress papers by Indonesian counterparts, offering views on publishing and promoting research, and exploring opportunities for further research and developing a student exchange system.

Seven staff from POLSIS attended the two-day workshop in Yogyakarta. They were Head of School Associate Professor Richard Devetak, Professor Tim Dunne, Dr Matt McDonald, Dr Andrew Phillips, Ms Emily Tannock, Dr Brigg and Dr Lee Wilson.

More than 40 staff members and postgraduate students from UGM attended the sessions, which involved a Skype meeting with additional colleagues at UQ.

Dr McDonald and Dr Phillips also presented a public lecture on ‘Australia as an Asian Power’ at the conclusion of the workshop.

“The partnership is an important component of the school's engagement activities,” Dr McDonald said.

“POLSIS staff were welcomed by UGM counterparts with friendliness, hospitality and genuine interest in furthering this relationship.

“Both parties also made a commitment to work towards a joint UQ-UGM conference in Indonesia in 2015 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference.”

Media: Gillian Ievers, 07 33653308, g.ievers@uq.edu.au.