Monash University’s Faculty of Arts is launching the Monash Herb Feith Indonesian Engagement Centre at Clayton campus next month.
Dean of Arts Professor Sharon Pickering said the new centre recognised the “amazing legacy of the Herb Feith Foundation and the Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, and continues the university’s and the faculty’s commitment to engaging with Indonesia”.
“The centre is named to honour our proud connection to Herb Feith,” Professor Pickering said.
“Arriving in Australia as a refugee in 1939 and at Monash from 1968 through to his retirement in 1990, Herb was known both as an outstanding scholar and an engaged activist.
“His early years volunteering as an Indonesian civil servant lead to the establishment of the Australian Volunteers International.
“He led international research on Indonesian politics for several decades, and during his time at Monash was one of the founders of the Centre of Southeast Asian Studies.”
Monash University had placed a priority of maintaining strong ties with Indonesia and there was a strong history of engagement, Professor Pickering said.
Monash’s engagement started with the earliest Colombo plan scholars in the 1960s and more recently as an inaugural partner in the Australia Indonesia Centre.
Herb Feith’s son, David, said Indonesia was a diverse country that provided educational opportunities for Australians.
“I hope that the Monash Herb Feith Indonesian Engagement Centre will foster and encourage more engagement with Indonesia, East Timor, and human rights issues … deeper and broader engagement with Indonesia, more students studying Indonesian language, as well as politics, history, culture and environment,” David said.
“Indonesia is Australia's closest neighbour, and Australians should have greater understanding of Indonesia.
“We should approach Indonesia and Indonesians with an understanding that we can learn from each other, and with curiosity to understand their issues and problems.”
David said people-to-people relationships were “more important than government relations, but governments could support people-to-people relationships”.
“We need to continue to promote Asian studies in our education systems, at secondary and tertiary levels,” he said.
“Indonesia is a very diverse place, with thousands of islands, many languages, and great diversity. Australians should understand that Indonesia is not just a holiday in Bali.”
Herb Feith’s daughter, Annie, said she would like to see the new centre contribute to deeper understanding and friendship between the people of Indonesia, Timor Leste and Australia.
“I hope that the centre supports both scholarly endeavours as well as engagement with civil society groups, working on common goals of peace, justice and human rights,” Annie said.
The Monash Herb Feith Indonesian Engagement Centre will be based in the Menzies building on the Clayton campus, which is the original location where Herb served as a professor of Indonesian studies from the 1960s for about three decades.
He spent three decades develop the Indonesian studies discipline at Monash.
Herb died in a tragic accident in Glen Iris, a suburb of inner Melbourne, in 2001.
His legacy lives on through his family and his students of Indonesian studies.
The Centre will continue Monash's collaboration and outreach with Indonesia in recognition of Herb. It provides an opportunity to continue Herb Feith’s legacy with a renewed focus on the themes of conflict resolution and human rights.
Join members of government, industry, alumni and community for this special event to celebrate the inception of this dynamic Centre. Following official speeches, drinks and canapés will be served.
Date Thursday 25 October 2018
Time 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Venue G.31, Learning and Teaching Building,19 Ancora Imparo Way, Monash University, Clayton campus