Category Archives: Indonesia

On Indonesian Disability Law: picking up the pace

In accordance with the Disability Day, 3 December 2016, our GoLive enthusiast Indra Kiling and Gracia Girsang write about progress and challenges of the Indonesian Disability Law after its enactment earlier this year. 

Six months past the enactment of Law No.8/2016 on Persons with Disabilities, Indonesia is still trying to keep up. Can Indonesia celebrate the next month’s Disability day on 3 December by presenting actual progress and implementation of the Law? Or this effort, once regarded as a significant movement, still falls short of creating an ideal environment for persons with disabilities.

Derivative regulations, socialization activities and establishing the National Disabilities Commission are key activities to implement the law up until now. However, these initiatives are considered sluggish in producing progress and the recent 800 billion rupiahs cut in Ministry of Social Services’ budget further restrain follow-up efforts.

This state of affairs is an indication that there is a crisis in the government’s commitment and understanding to disability issue, precipitating the delay in completing and implementing the law. It is hardly a new problem, considering the enforcement of another second priority law like Mental Health Law No.18/2014 is still unsatisfactory hitherto, with only one derivative regulation completed until October 2016.

Also read: Questioning our dignity in mental health

As a means to put the Disability Law into effect, both central and local government has a lot of tasks to be done swiftly in multiple sectors. According to recent doctoral research done by Indra Kiling (2016) regarding programs for persons with disabilities in Indonesia, there are at least three feasible approaches that can expedite the implementation of Disability Law.

First, as underlined by many stakeholders before, accurate data on persons with disabilities are desperately needed. Programs could not be formulated and applied effectively in the absence of a good set of data. In this matter, apart from collecting data in village level, early screening for young children is essential. Early screening not only serves as an intervention that helps to anticipate severe or multiple disabilities, it also supplies data to further improve services for persons with disabilities.

Yet, the use of early screening in community level is still somewhat lacking in Indonesia. Indra’s research found that even though health workers are equipped with the developmental screening checklist, it is often useless since the health workers don’t really grasp on the subject of disability and inclusive service.

Solving the problem with the old fashioned way, training provision for active health workers is simply not enough for the long-term scope. Universities with health courses should insert disability and inclusive health services topic in their courses’ curriculum. This move will complement article 44 in the disability law that regulates similar approach in education courses. Conceivably, the knowledge gained in higher education could help health workers in conducting disability-friendly health services, including early detection.

Second, among people with disabilities, persons with mental disability are the most discriminated and disadvantaged group. The fact that most of them could not advocate for themselves, unlike persons with physical disability, is worsening the phenomenon. Conditions like bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder and depression can actually be prevented and treated with adequate mental health services before it becomes a disabling illness. Alas, mental health services in Indonesia, like other developing countries is under performed.

According to Basic Health Survey in 2013, only 11.9 percent persons with emotional mental disorder received recent treatment, while 38.2 per cent persons with the severe mental disorder have not received any treatment. This lack of performance can be easily solved with making the most out of existing resources.

Indonesia actually has a growing mental health workforce that could be employed to empower mental health services. Jakarta has provided an exemplary service with “Healthy Jakarta” program that involves psychologists to provide services in the community health centres. The benefit of this program is that it does not depend solely on the rare and expensive services from psychiatrists, instead, it utilises the underused but ever growing psychologists’ services. This could also simultaneously reduce the rate of mental disabilities, suicides, drug abuses, and domestic violence. We believe that best practice should not only be found in the capital but also proliferated to other provinces as well.

Last but not least, as a pillar of the contemporary disability movement, inclusive education often clashes with special education. A study from Stephen Meyers, a professor at the University of Washington found that in Nicaragua, posits that an established special school often competes with new inclusive schools for students. Parents there felt that their children benefitted more in the special school. In the end that special school was forced to cease their activities by local government backed up by an international non-government organisation (NGO) that supported inclusive education.

This conflict has the potential to occur also in Indonesia, a nation that is trying to improve the inclusive education system and a home of many disability-focused international NGOs who supported inclusive education. Education service providers must always prioritise the right of persons with disabilities to choose which school is best for them. The government, like regulated in Disability Law, must provide both inclusive education and special education services, and support them without playing favourites to any side. Moreover, future derivative regulations should ensure equal implementation of both education systems throughout the nation.

The International Day of persons with disabilities – 3 December – should be used as a reminder and a boost to gain (another) momentum to reinforce the Disability Law in Indonesia. We should not wait for the next Paralympics games or worst, regional elections to harvest attention. We must act now.

Indra Yohanes Kiling  is a LPDP scholarship awardee, member of GoLive Indonesia and also a Ph.D candidate in Psychology, at The University of Adelaide. His research focuses on finding best practices to support persons with disabilities in Indonesia.

Gracia Girsang is an Australia Awards awardee and a Ph.D Candidate at the Institute of International Trade, Faculty of the Professions, the University of Adelaide under the Australia Awards Scholarship. Gracia is also the project coordinator of GoLive Indonesia, a University of Adelaide-based project aiming at promoting discussion in various topics.


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GoLive video: “We are Indonesia”

GoLive Indonesia in collaboration with PPIA UniSA proudly present our “We are Indonesia” video series.

Here’s a glimpse of the many faces, culture and languages that builds Indonesia. We are lucky to be blessed with such diversity and heritage.


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CIES – IIT Seminar Series 16 & 17 November 2016

The Centre for International Economic Studies ( at the Institute for International Trade invites you to a Seminar Series held in conjunction with Bogor Agricultural University’s visit to The University of Adelaide as part of a joint research collaboration with the Faculty of the Professions.


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3rd Indonesia Research Day Panelist: El Musafeer (The Traveller) – Rebana Group

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The group is established in 2013 by Kajian Islam Adelaide/Islamic Study of Adelaide (KIA) to promote Rebana (tambourine) as one of traditional music that associated closely with Indonesia Muslim community. Although Rebana is traditionally played to praise God, and the Prophet Muhammad SAW,the group has been combining its performance by playing it on Indonesian traditional songs too. The group consist of 10 to 15 players that are mostly Indonesian postgraduate students living in Adelaide.

The group have been performing in many places and popular events/festivals in Adelaide such as the Art Gallery of South Australia, Migration Museum, OzAsia Festival, Moon Lantern Festival, Night Noodle Market, Indofest, Flinders University’s 50 Years Celebration, and many more. Besides promoting Islamic culture, Rebana has been also widely used to strengthen people to people relationship and mutual understanding between Indonesia and Australia by joining school visits program and cooperation with many institutions in Australia.

Suryo Guritno, PhD Candidate from Flinders University, will be representing El Musafeer in the 3rd Indonesia Research Day Cultural Panel to share his  experiences as a former coordinator of the group.

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3rd Indonesia Research Day Panelist: Muhammad Mustafa

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Mochamad Mustafa is currently undertaking PhD program at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science, the University of Adelaide. His research topic is on the Political Economy of Bureaucratic Reform in Indonesia. Mustafa holds a Master Degree in International Development from the Centre for Development Studies, Flinders University, South Australia. He is a political economist in the area improving public services, local economic policy and procedures, promoting gender responsive and pro-poor local budgets, public procurement reform and increasing transparency and public participation. Mustafa has wide experiences in managing, facilitating and providing technical assistance for civil society organizations and governments in Indonesia at the national, provincial and local levels on promoting business licensing reform; procurement reforms; local regulatory reform and local budget reforms.

Prior to his PhD program, he was a program officer at the Asia Foundation Indonesia office from 2008 to 2013. He served as the program officer in the Local Governance and Economy and Gender and Women’s Political Participation units. Mustafa has managed and implemented a number of programs supported by various development institutions in Indonesia, such as the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the International Finance Cooperation (IFC), The World Bank, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the British Embassy and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

His current research uncovers the way in which local political dynamic have shaped procurement reform in Indonesia specifically in the City of Surabaya and Bogor. It concludes that rather than the product of leadership or individual agency, the outcome of the institutional reforms on public procurement is shaped by the extent of how the local political economy constellation engenders reform coalitions among local elites and local actors.

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3rd Indonesia Research Day Panelist: Brett Caliss

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After first being introduced to Indonesia and its music at Flinders University, Brett has gone on to spend the last five years living and studying in Indonesia. His hobby of music and it’s social importance for local communities has seen him spend time in Java, Jakarta, Kalimantan and most recently West Sumatra studying not only the music but also languages and cultures of these areas.

This interest has followed Brett back to Adelaide where he has recently taken on role as Artistic and Cultural Director for Indofest Adelaide 2016. Through this role he has been able to engage with many different community groups as well as form his own group with the focus of strengthening Australia-Indonesia relations through collaborations of local Indonesian art forms developed and performed here in Australia.

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3rd Indonesia Research Day Panelist: Fajar B. Hirawan

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Fajar B. Hirawan is a Ph.D student at School of Economics, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The University of Sydney. Fajar is also active as a teaching assistant at School of Economics. He is currently doing his dissertation on how to promote food security in Indonesia. His research interests mainly focus on Indonesian economy, food security and international trade.

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