The following is a press release from the soon-to-launch Australia-Indonesia Centre, based at Monash University.

Harold Mitchell AC – celebrated philanthropist and founder of Australia’s biggest media and communications group – will chair the board of the Australia-Indonesia Centre, a federal government initiative designed to improve relationships and collaborations between the two nations.

Mr Mitchell was elected chair at the board’s inaugural meeting in Melbourne yesterday.

“I consider this appointment to be a great honour,” Mr Mitchell said. “I am a huge supporter of the commitment made by Prime Minister Tony Abbott to strengthen ties with Indonesia. We have so much to gain from learning more about our close neighbour’s culture and the dynamic aspirations of Indonesians. Today the board approved a set of values for the Australia-Indonesia Centre that includes respect, inclusiveness and friendship. I firmly believe that if the centre can help Australians and Indonesians become stronger friends, if we can bring more people together, if we can work together on shared challenges, then we will leave a wonderful legacy for future generations. Several visionary leaders from both nations have already been in touch because they recognise what the centre is setting out to achieve.”

Mr Mitchell praised the Pratt Foundation for becoming the first private-sector organisation to help the centre deliver specific research and engagement initiatives. The foundation has given $500,000 over four years.

The Australia-Indonesia Centre – based at Monash University in Melbourne – was announced by the Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott, during his formal talks with the President of Indonesia, His Excellency Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in October last year. It has three core objectives: to improve Australians’ understanding of contemporary Indonesia; to strengthen linkages and relationships between the two countries; and to address shared national challenges through collaborative research.

Two research networks – one in Australia, one in Indonesia – have been set up to drive the research agenda.

In Australia, the participating institutions are Monash University, the University of Melbourne, the Australian National University, the University of Sydney and CSIRO. They are joined, from Indonesia, by Universitas Indonesia, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Institut Teknologi Bandung, Universitas Airlangga, Universitas Hasanuddin and Institut Pertanian Bogor.

One of several high-profile board members from Indonesia, Mahendra Siregar, chairman of Indonesia’s Coordinating Investment Board, said after today’s meeting: “I am confident that the centre will identify and build strong synergies between Indonesia and Australia. It brings together the best from both nations: Indonesia’s young and dynamic population and Australia’s centres of excellence in education, health and other services. The centre will, I’m sure, build trusted relationships between Australia and Indonesia. This will serve the interests of both countries.”

The AIC announced today that it will hold a bilateral research summit in Jakarta on May 22-23, involving leading academics and researchers from both nations. The summit is being hosted by the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture.

Australia-Indonesia Centre board members


  • Mahendra Siregar Chairman, Coordinating Investment Board
  • Pratikno Rektor, Universitas Gadjah Mada
  • Djoko Santoso Director-General, Higher Education, Ministry of Education and Culture
  • John Riady Director, Lippo Group
  • James Castle Principal, Castle Asia
  • Raoul Oberman Former Chairman, McKinsey Indonesia
  • Svida Alisjahbana President Director, Femina Group


  • Greg Moriarty Australian Ambassador to Indonesia
  • Susan Bennett Manager, South and South-East Asia, Australian Department of Education
  • Ed Byrne Vice-Chancellor, Monash University
  • Ian Young Vice-Chancellor, Australian National University (first year)
  • Harold Mitchell Harold Mitchell Foundation
  • Leonie Lethbridge Chief Operations Officer Asia, ANZ
  • Ross FitzGerald Director, Visy
  • Andrew Parker Head, Indonesia Practice, PwC