Article by Madeleine Crothers – AIYA National Blog Editor

Indonesian translation by Adolf Richardo – AIYA National Translation Team

Click here for Bahasa Indonesia version.

In the lead-up to International Women’s Day, this piece celebrates Hani Nusantari, an inspiring leader promoting marine conservation and education in rural Indonesia and Australia. Bu Hani is the co-CEO of the JARI Foundation, a local marine conservation non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Lombok, Indonesia. The JARI Foundation aims to support threatened marine ecosystems through research, conservation, ecotourism, education and local community development. Bu Hani has a breadth of international experience, having studied short-term and long-term courses in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Fiji and the United States on education and marine conservation.

About Bu Hani Nusantari

Bu Hani was born in South Sumatra and grew up in East Kalimantan. Her aspirations of becoming a Marine Biologist were ignited at age 13 when she obtained her open-water dive certificate through a school program. In pursuit of her dream of becoming a Marine Biologist, Bu Hani moved to Maluku in East Indonesia to study a Bachelor of Marine Science at Universitas Pattimura: one of only six Universities that offered the course in 1988. This is where Bu Hani met her future husband, Pak Bun, and together they moved to Lombok and established the JARI Foundation.

Bu Hani was motivated to pursue further studies in Environmental Education because of the local children who lacked knowledge of the reef ecosystems where they lived and worked. After learning about available New Zealand scholarships, Bu Hani applied. Being unsuccessful in the first year, she re-applied and was selected as one of ten scholars to complete a Master of Environmental Education and a Graduate Diploma in Science Education at the University of Waikato. During her time in New Zealand, Bu Hani became pregnant with her fifth child. Her supervisor made a strict schedule to ensure she could meet deadlines while managing the pregnancy due to concerns she would not be able to complete her studies. With determination and support from her husband and children, she gained the trust of her supervisor. Bu Hani successfully graduated and raised her child in New Zealand for the first six months of his life.

Relationship with Australia

The JARI Foundation has a close relationship with Australia, being a partner organisation with the Australia Aid Volunteers Program. The JARI Foundation has hosted nine volunteers since 2013. For both volunteers and the organisation, this program has been mutually beneficial in education and cultural exchanges.

The JARI Foundation also successfully received Australian Aid grants for its new ‘Women for Marine Conservation’ initiative. This project provides women the opportunity to learn about and contribute to marine conservation. Firstly, it aims to provide further independence and autonomy for women in rural fishing towns and secondly, this strategy applies Islamic values: that the first school for children is their mother. The idea is that children will benefit as women pass on their knowledge of marine conservation to younger generations.  

Not only does Bu Hani educate locals on marine conservation, but she also has an international focus. Bu Hani helped introduce teachers at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Crib Point, Victoria, to a local Indonesian primary school, SDN 3 Sugian in East Lombok. Later, Our Lady of Fatima in Rosebud, Victoria requested a similar initiative and the JARI Foundation matched the school with SDN 8 Sugian, also in East Lombok. Now, the teachers complete an exchange bi-annually, where Bu Hani will go to Australia and teach marine conservation and the Australian teachers to Lombok. Bu Hani’s daughter also supported the sister school project, which motivated her to move to Australia. Currently, she is living in Australia on a Working Holiday Visa and continues to support the partner schools.

The JARI Foundation has also provided three Australian New Colombo Plan Scholarship recipients with long-term internships in Mataram, Lombok, where Australian students have the opportunity to learn and contribute to ecosystem education programs, women’s empowerment and conservation practices in regional Sumbawa.

The JARI Foundation: Women for Marine Conservation Project

Future of JARI Foundation

Bu Hani’s vision is to make the JARI Foundation self-sustaining by developing strong tourism operations as part of the NGO. During the pandemic, the JARI Foundation faced extreme challenges. Bu Hani had purchased a boat for tourism that would take people on the coast of Sumbawa and educate attendees on marine conservation; however, COVID-19 prevented travel and tourism. Later the boat had to be sold due to maintenance costs. Recently, Bu Hani travelled to Australia as an awardee of a Sustainable Tourism Management Short Course by Griffith University, where she visited tourist destinations in Australia and learned from leaders in sustainable tourism. Being inspired by this experience, Bu Hani aims to re-establish the community-based marine ecotourism project and ensure locals actively participate in all stages of its development.

Another challenge faced by JARI was the major earthquake that struck Lombok in 2018. The building and local hub where the organisation would hold meetings with locals for community engagement and research had been demolished. A GoFundMe has been established by an Australian Volunteer to rebuild this space for ongoing research and education.

Hani Nusantari’s work is a testament to the positive effects of international education and the relationship between Australia and Indonesia’s developmental assistance. If Bu Hani could provide advice to young female leaders, it would be to “believe in yourself that you can achieve your goals, surround yourself with mentors, colleagues and friends who will support and encourage your achievements and build networks to learn and respect other cultures and beliefs”.

Hani Nusantari