AIYA Western Australia’s Natrisha Barnett was a participant in the recent Australia-Indonesia Youth Dialogue, hosted by the Australia-Indonesia Institute at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta on the 10th of February.

Now in its second year, the AIYD was developed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and its Australia-Indonesia Institute as a way to bring together young leaders within the Australia-Indonesia relationship to reflect on their experiences, develop people-to-people links and discuss ways in which bilateral relations can be strengthened at a youth level. Delegates were drawn from the 2014 group of Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program participants, ACICIS, AIYA, Australian Volunteers International, PPI-Australia and The Language Barrier.

On the first day, participants were fortunate to hear from Mr Simon Merrifield, Australia’s first Ambassador to ASEAN and an AIYEP alumni himself. He highlighted the skills the program offers: adaptability, flexibility, and the ability to balance new and old relationships in a different environment.

The dialogue program also encouraged us to think of things we can do independent of government funding — what can young people do today to encourage positive change in the relationship? This year’s delegates made a firm pledge to continue engaging with the bilateral relationship.

The group also discussed ways to make the most of resources and networks that already exist — amongst young people, AIYA, as well as initiatives like the BRIDGE program and The Language Barrier. The group discussed the potential to directly engage with schools and universities to encourage more students to consider learning Indonesian.

From my perspective, the dialogue’s aims were best summed up by a fellow participant, who said that “while our culture is a little bit different, we are all human beings living under the same sky”. This highlights the underlying mutual understanding and respect for the personal relationships we have forged.