50th Anniversary of Indonesian Studies at the University of Sydney

12 October 2008

Professor Adrian Vickers.
Professor Adrian Vickers.

This year's celebration of 50 years of Indonesian Studies at the University of Sydney was capped off on Friday 15th August with an alumni reception held to coincide with Indonesian Independence Day celebrations on 17th. 

Well over 160 people attended, with entertainment provided by a musical ensemble from the Indonesian community and a Central Javanese dance performance by current student Tabitha Williams. Dr Doug Miles, formerly of the Anthropology Department of the University of Sydney, represented the original class of 1958.


It was gratifying to see the strong expressions of support at all levels. The Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor International and Prof Jeff Riegel spoke of the University's continuing support; and the Indonesian Consul General, Pak Sudaryomo, gave a very warm and heartfelt appreciation of our links. Most impressively, our alumni described how the study of Indonesia had changed their lives, and expressed the importance of maintaining the Department. Indonesian has undergone its ups-and-downs—at its height of popularity in the mid-1960s there were over 500 students studying the language, but less than five years ago the program had been threatened with closure. Fortunately the new curriculum initiated by Dr Michele Ford, along with significant grant achievements, good honours and postgraduate numbers and steady undergraduate enrolments, have put Indonesian Studies in a healthy position.


The Department has quite an illustrious list of alumni: the late Glenda Adams, one of Australia's leading novelists; Les A. Murray, Australia's foremost poet; media magnate Kerry Stokes; the leading landscape architect Made Wijaya; Angelo Gavrielatos, President of the National Education Union; Professor Toru Aoyama, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies; A/Prof. Husein Mutalib of NUS; Dr Lono Simatupang of Gadjah Mada University; Prof Michael Laffan of Princeton; former staff from Leiden such as A/Prof Stuart Robson; academics from most of Australia's universities (such as Prof Harry Aveling, Prof Barbara Hatley, Dr Angus MacIntyre, A/Prof Richard Chauvel and Dr George Quinn); Terry Rolfe from the UN; Dr Helen Jarvis who is now a state secretary in Cambodia; federal civil servants in Immigration, Education, Defence, Foreign Affairs and other areas; political advisors; missionaries; journalists in SBS, the Sydney Morning Herald and elsewhere; and importantly teachers who have in turn had a major impact of the lives of generations of Australians.


My fellow committee members, Keith Foulcher, Trina Supit and Leonie Wittman, did a great job, and thanks too to the Alumni Office, the Dean of Arts and the School of Languages and Cultures for their subsidies and other forms of support.


PM Kevin Rudd recently said in Singapore: "I am committed to making Australia the most Asia-literate country in the collective West. My vision is for the next generation of Australian businessmen and women, economists, accountants, lawyers, architects, artists, filmmakers and performers to develop language skills which open their region to them" (quoted in the Sun Herald 17 August 2008). Let us hope that there will be some substance behind this commitment.

Prof. Adrian Vickers (alumnus and current Professor of Southeast Asian Studies)


Contact: Mandy Sacher

Phone: 02 911 40622

Email: 234616221d023a21301d290218140a191e5611