Occasional Address at the Charles Darwin University Graduation Ceremony



Chancellor of Charles Darwin University, Neil Balnaves AO

Vice-Chancellor of Charles Darwin University, Prof. Simon Maddocks,

Members of council and University Staff

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

And most importantly the graduands receiving their degrees today


Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh

Shalom, Oom Swastiastu 

Good evening

Peace and prosperity to all of you


Let me begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land – the Larrakia people – on which this ceremony takes place. 


I'd also like to convey my condolences to Thai students of Charles Darwin University. We, your friends are saddened for the loss of your beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej-- a Monarch loved by his people and for the people; and an example of true humanity, statesmanship and peace maker.


As this great man of Asia passes away, aged 89, remembering his dedication to his country and contribution to the region--- I'm heartened to stand here tonight in front of future leaders of Australia and Asia in this Charles Darwin University Graduation Ceremony. 


In fact standing here delivering the Occasional Address is not only an honour, but it also gives me a great sense of pride.


An honour because this is the first time an Indonesian Consul in Darwin has the opportunity to formally address this august forum. 


Indonesia has always seen the Northern Territory as a strategic hub for Indonesia Australia relations since establishing the Consulate in 1978. Since then, many pivotal cooperations between Indonesia Australia has been made through Darwin. And as the Asian region continues to take centre stage globally, Darwin would be an important fulcrum for future bilateral relations.


It is a also great pride for me to share this moment with you, the future leaders of NT, as we prepare for the future, we know that Darwin's past is rich with Asian engagements. 


In fact the Top end has always been the site for first contact with communities of todays Indonesia.


And in the past 18 months I've had the privilege of speaking to many people in NT about this. 


I've spoken to Larrakeyah, Yirrkala and Anindilyakwa elders who remember their ancestor trading with the macassan centuries ago. 


Through terripang trading or sea cucumbers, not ONLY did they, and the Macassan create an industry that would sustain them for centuries, it would later become a special commodity in global trade.  According to CC Macknight 's article "Outback to Outback: The Indonesian Archipelago and Northern Australia[1], he mentions that terripang trade accounted for most of the Macassans supply before trading it to China, which would then account for a quarter to a third of China's terripang market in the 1800 century. 


This means that even back in the 17th century, our peoples have been trading with China in significant volumes.  Today we can see such developments occurring again.


A few years later, in 1811 a picture from Captains Phillips journals showed  a landscape view of tens of ships carrying a thousand Bugis sailors off Groote Eylandt and witnessed by an indigenous woman, about the same time the British Empire sought to have a presence in Northern Australia to better engage Asia and established settlements.


After three previous trials, Port Darwin was finally established and since then Territorians have traded and become tourist to ports in Timor, Bali and Maluku Provinces.


Thus, we can say that since the mid 1800 century, many Territorians have built the community and the relations with Asia. One may even say that you have been like Gatekeepers for Australia and Asia relations


And today all you join in that tradition of Territorian pioneers.


As mentioned by Vice Chancellor Simon Maddocks earlier, "this graduation day is a significant milestone for graduands and their families". 


You are all permitted to feel enormously satisfied. And why not?


You've graduated from a university ranked in the top 2 percent of universities in the world; the top 50 Universities worldwide, and also joining as the top ten universities in Australia. 


Praise the Lord, YOU DONE IT. 


And so on behalf of the Indonesian Government and the Indonesian people, I congratulate you.


And a warm congratulations to Indonesia's Dr Deasyanti Adil and Dr Ratna Dyah Suryaratri and to those many Indonesian students who are in CDU and also graduating today.


Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,


Now that you've graduated, what's next?


Straight to the Waterfront and jump into its beachwaters? fulfil the promise to dive in the Cage of Death at Crocosaurus Cove? or fly straight Bali and enjoy the tranquility of Ubud, or maybe fly 4 hours down South to meet friends or just spend the night at Shenanigans Pub (again)?


Either way, you deserve it. 


It's good. it's important. Let the journey continue.


Perhaps your now at a cross road? (and that's not just on Mitchell Street and Peel Street where Shenanigans Pub is located). Do you want to continue studying, or dig deeper into working, or maybe explore the world or perhaps help others?


What would a graduate of Australia's top 10 Universities do next?


As we have reminisced the past, let me share what I've been hearing about the future in the remainder of my time to speak.


What would probably happen in the next 25 to 30 years? In the years 2040 or 2045?


Let me share three things that may be relevant for us Territorians to consider.


Firstly, as Darwin being closer to many Asian capital cities, compared to its sister cities down south,-- I suggest you embrace your role as the gate keepers to better link up Australia and Indonesia and Asia.


With China playing a more engaging role through-out Asia --- it's One Belt One Road initiative and Maritime Silk Road initiative, and also the US's renewed engagement through its Pivot to Asia Initiative, their influence and presence will surely affect Indonesia and Australia.


Indonesia with its "Global Maritime Fulcrum" and Australia's with its "Developing its North policy" and looking north policies means that both our countries are already preparing to better engage these regional dynamics.  Furthermore, through regional forums such as ASEAN, both Indonesia and Australia can bridge these two giants in fostering a prosperous and stable Asia.


Talking about ASEAN, as you know, ASEAN's GDP of $2.3 trillion could also contribute further to the regions stability with its Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnerships worth US$28 trillion.  From Australia's side, Canberra has agreed to engage this forum through ASEAN-Australia Meetings, and as mentioned in meetings outcomes they'd like have greater connectivity with Northern Australia and deeper cooperation through the Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Philippine NT partnerships or the BIMP-EAGA-NT, something which the NT Government have championed.  Additionally, Australian businesses have given greater interest to ASEAN, where in the past 2 years, 60% of Australian companies have increased their investments into ASEAN, and 54% of Australian businesses believe that investing in ASEAN is important because they expect greater economic benefit from the ASEAN integration [2].  This is something that not only NT businesspeople and entrepreneurs would be interested in, but also an opportunity for the graduands and faculty members of CDU Business school to explore greater economic partnerships between the NT and ASEAN markets.


Secondly, when embracing innovation, ICT and connectedness, discover the next leaders in your communities and in this region.  Seek out the next young leaders in Indonesia, Timor Leste, the Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, China or Asia and also in the NT.  These leaders may be yourselves, as you find other partners to join you in this venture into Asia.


With direct 2-hour flights to Bali (where tickets can go as cheap as $99), and the upcoming 45 minutes direct flights to Saumlaki/Davao, and flights to Dili/Kupang--- your familiarity with the Asian regions environment and its people and easy networking gives you an edge that most Australians wont have.


For Indonesia, by 2025 it is forecasted to be the worlds top economy number 13; and by 2045 it is forecasted to be world's 7th largest economy.  Billions of dollars of major investment are pouring into infrastructure and industry development, as dedicated by Indonesian President Joko Widodo. 

For Indonesia, the eastern region will be the next frontier for the country's great growth.  And our President is focusing much attention on developing eastern Indonesia, including the province of Papua and West Papua. 


As a special focus is being given to 5 Melanesian provinces of eastern Indonesia, namely NTT, Maluku and North Maluku, Papua and West Papua,  these provinces will rely on a strong pool of human resource to build their emerging middle class.


And they will rely on their closest neighbours and friends to help find their next leaders lead this new middle class for Indonesia's eastern region.  For the Indonesian government, it is important to help these youths.


By encouraging young leaders from NTT, the Malukus, and Papua to build their communications skill, vocational skills and educational foundations, we will be contributing to the development of their provinces and providing them with an understanding on all the options and potential solutions that will ensure their bright future.  This would not only give those youths a greater sense of purpose but it will also empower them to be the architects of a sub region that remains progressive and stable.


And from Darwin these youths can attain that.


Having said that, the close cooperation between the NT and the Indonesian Consulate in bridging interactions between the youths and future leaders have been fruitful.


Through the Darwin City Council and the NT government, cooperation in the Darwin Ambon sister city cooperation and the NT East Kalimantan sister province cooperations have made both communities more familiar and trusting of one another. 


Furthermore, CDU have played an instrumental role in connecting the Universities and researches for the past decades. Many students and staff come to the NT to learn more about cattle with help from the NT Cattleman's Association through its Pastoral Program.


In high-schools, Kormilda College with its cooperations and engagement with high schools from Saumlaki, Ambon and Papua have also instilled a sense of hope and idealism for the young leaders that aspire for a modern community.


Sports initiatives such as Diamonds in the Rough girls baseball and Netball Indonesia by NT's own Meisha and Rebbeca not only promotes the spirit of sportsmanship, but reminds girls that they play a key role for the success of any community.


And with the support of the NT Government towards Conference of Australia Indonesia Youths (CAUSINDY) and also Australia Indonesia Youth Association AIYA NT Chapter, the Top End is doing its part in forging the next leaders for Indonesia Australia relations.


Lastly, I encourage you to begin designing your future legacy.


The NT is filled with many great stories of Australia's engagement with Asia. 


Take small steps, by helping your own community and maybe then reach out to others -- especially friends in Indonesia and Asia. 


Prepare for 2025. With the support of your families, you can expand your networks. Go out and find new friends in the region. These new friends are awaiting you. Not just for business and education, but to be your partner and maybe even be a colleague that can someday be part your family.  Just like how the many Territorians have discovered; NT individuals like Ken Kernich and the Kupang Palmerston 8-Ball who have played 8-Ball annually for 20 years, visiting each other in Palmerston and Kupang; Or Matthew Baker and Claire Dandie and the Friends of Tanimbar who would sail to Saumlaki annually over the past few years and help the local villages there.


Furthermore, the Universities from Bali to Ambon to Jayapura to Samarinda, wish to be better engaged with CDU, for better English, or vocational training and even improved research and journal publishing. This means more friends from your neighbouring Universities.


And the CDU Business school has a great opportunity to bridge eastern Indonesia and northern Australia business relations, bearing in mind that both Governments are promoting these regions for greater development in the coming years.


That's why I'm very I'm proud that this years NT International students awards goes to two Indonesian Biz Students, Miss Faatih Natasha and Miss Enggar Daranindra.


One thing you must know, is that the Indonesian CDU alumni also comprises of many significant individuals.


Not only senior members of the Indonesian Education Ministries and also State Universities, but many Indonesian based Environmental Think tanks and Health Researchers come from CDU; plus several other officials at the Presidential Advisory Office such as Dr Theo Liitay who graduated his CDU PhD last year. And the current Chief Justice for the Judicial Commission Aidul Fitriciada is also one that studied in CDU and longs to return to Darwin to continue his studies. 


Indonesia's sixth President, Prof Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had also expressed his interest to be part of the CDU- in this years graduation --and has sought for another opportunity in the near future.


And with the close cooperation between CDU and the Indonesian Consulate in Darwin, Insya Allah there can be more Foreign Ministry officials benefitting from CDUs Post Graduate programs that are renowned for its distance learning and good research programs. 


Graduands, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,


These are the many opportunities that await all you graduands. 


I hope you will take them and join in creating the legacy of Darwin, Northern Territory. 

As the city was built to better engage Asia; its past will no doubt bridge into an important and strategic future.


And today you are not only future leaders of the Northern Territory but also for Australia, Indonesia and Asia.


You have now completed this part of your journey.

Now it's time for you to embark on your next adventure.

Let me congratulate you all once more. And I wish you God-speed.

I thank you


Wassalaamu'alaikum warohmatullahi wabarakatuh.




Darwin, 14 October 2016




Andre Omer Siregar

Consul of the Republic of Indonesia

to the Northern Territory

[1] CC Macknight, 'Outback to Outback: The Indonesian Archipelago and Northern Australia" published in Indonesia: Australian Perspectives (eds) JJ Fox, RG Garnaut, PT McCawley, JAC Mackie, (ANU, 1980).

[2] http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.austcham.org.sg/resource/dynamic/blogs/20160815_235344_13777.pdf