Australia’s Ambassador hosts the official Jakarta launch of the Herb Feith Indonesian Engagement Centre

Students of the Global Immersion Guarantee (GIG) program looked on as Australia’s Ambassador to Indonesia hosted the official launch of Monash University’s Herb Feith Indonesian Engagement Centre.

The group of 15 first year Arts and Global Studies students this week went from a lively debate on social and environmental issues with local communities to mingling with diplomats and politicians.

The centre, led by respected academic and commentator Ariel Heryanto, aims to deepen Australia-Indonesia engagement by providing a platform for researchers in both nations and fostering local partnerships.

Monash Dean of Arts, Sharon Pickering, said the centre was named to honour the proud connection between Monash and Herb Feith – an outstanding scholar and engaged activist.

Arriving in Australia as a refugee in 1939 he joined Monash in 1968 and led international research on Indonesian politics for several decades, before retiring in 1990.

“Herb was known, in Australia and overseas, as a compassionate and intensely moral person who felt himself compelled to speak and act against abuses and injustice,” Professor Pickering said.

“Throughout his life he was always ready to devote himself to important causes involving ideas of democracy and human rights.”

Professor Pickering said Monash’s long history of engagement and collaboration with Indonesia would be further strengthened by initiatives like the new centre and GIG.

“We are committed to raise a generation of Australian graduates with a deep understanding and appreciation of Indonesian language and culture, who are globally literate and culturally conscious, equipped to work collaboratively for the advancement of Australia and Indonesia,” she said.

Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, Gary Quinlan, said increased engagement and understanding between Australia and Indonesia would benefit both nations.

“Monash University has a strong reputation and is widely respected for its research and expertise across Asia, and particularly Indonesia,” Mr Quinlan said.

“The Herb Feith Centre will provide a significant boost to Monash’s reputation as a centre for Indonesian studies and capability.”