#CAUSINDY: A Platform for Australian and Indonesian Young Leaders to Create A Stronger Bilateral Relationship

Australia-Indonesia relations had begun since the 17th century, even before European settlement of Australia. Trading contact was established between indigenous communities in Northern Australia and Makassare traders for trepang, or a type of sea cucumber which was considered as a high-valued commodity. The bilateral relations have since emerged, growing, and formalised with Australia’s full recognition of the independence of Indonesia in 1949. Today, the relations have continued to grow and flourished, encompassing a wide range of sectors from security, trade, culture, development, maritime, and so on.

“No two neighbours anywhere in the world are as comprehensively unalike as Australia and Indonesia,” – Former Foreign Minister of Australia, Gareth Evans

Despite its close proximity, the two countries will have to embrace a more strategic way, especially going into the 21st century that opens a new set of opportunities and challenges. The youth of both countries is becoming more invested to develop a deeper understanding for the future of the bilateral relationship. Progress and initiatives have been taken to invite participations from the new generation of Indonesia and Australia to not only be informed, but also to actively contribute to the discussions and delivering new ideas to elevate the bilateral relations.

CAUSINDY is a bilateral youth organisation which provides a platform for young leaders from Australia and Indonesia to create a stronger bilateral relationship. It is led by a group of volunteers spread across the two countries to organise an annual event held alternately in a different city in Australia and Indonesia every year. This main event is the flagship of this organisation called Conference of Australian and Indonesian Youth, hence CAUSINDY, which is a four-day program that brings together 30 young leaders from the two countries. These participants, known as delegates, are selected emerging leaders and professionals from a broad range of fields; from business, government officials, academia, NGOs, and social enterprise.

This year’s CAUSINDY was held in Makassar, a growing city in South Sulawesi, many called as the gateway to Eastern part of Indonesian archipelago. This year CAUSINDY highlights “Connected by Sea” as a theme, as it intends to explore innovative and creative approach to ameliorate the bilateral relationship through maritime sphere. Corresponding to the theme, CAUSINDY headed to Makassar, one of Indonesia’s prime and fastest-growing port cities on 5-8 September 2018 for its 6th Annual Conference.

During the course of four days, the conference highlights three major outlines;

1. Panel Discussions, which gives delegates the opportunity to discuss the current and hot topics with a panel of experts and leaders. This year, CAUSINDY highlights sectors such as Politics, Business and Trade, Regional Security, and Coastal and Environmental Sustainability.

a. Politics panel

Political panel reviews domestic political developments of Australia and Indonesia during the last year and examine how these have shaped foreign policy. In light of looming national elections, the panel explores possible directions the bilateral relationship could take in the future. Through candid discussion with political and policy experts, delegates are encouraged to ask questions that others don’t ask.

b. Business and Trade panel

With IA-CEPA (Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) is on the brink of completion, this panel explored how it can benefit both countries and create sustainable business partnerships to enhance the economic relationship.

c. Regional Security panel

In a session combining academic insights from the experts and opportunities for collaboration, the security session examines the pressing security challenges facing the region, and the opportunities for the two countries to cooperate in response to them. How is the maritime sphere important to the national security of both countries? And in what ways are non-traditional threats affecting the security of Indonesia and Australia?

d. Coastal and Environmental panel

Coastlines and oceans of Indonesia and Australia host the majority of the populations, serve as tourist destinations and are an important source of sustenance for millions, yet they are also among the most threatened environments. Climate change and coastal inundation threaten communities, while damaged marine ecosystems and rampant overfishing and unsustainable fishing methods put the food security of millions in doubt. The panel explored the dangers of these threats pose to the two countries and opportunities to remedy these through active collaboration and sustainable practices.

2. CAUSINDY Reviews are designated sessions for delegates to put their thoughts, ideas, and experiences into action, by collaborating to produce a concrete work of project that can help strengthen the bilateral relations. Delegates are split into five teams and guided by experienced mentors from the brainstorming to finalisation of their work. On the last day, each team will pitch the presentation of their project to the cohort, CAUSINDY team, and a panel of the five mentors to provide their feedback and ask follow-up questions about the presented projects.

3. Social and Networking Events provide a wide opportunity for delegates to get to know each other, and have informal discussions with CAUSINDY team, speakers, mentors, and partners. This year, networking events are conducted by taking a tour of Fort Rotterdam and Pantai Losari, a welcoming dinner with the Mayor of Makassar with an address of a keynote speaker Bernardus Djonoputro, a dinner with The General Consulate of Australia in Makassar, and a Gala Dinner event on the last night of the conference. In addition, the conference also held the Engaging Future Leaders (EFL) program, which invited participation of Indonesian students in Makassar to engage in one-day language exchange program with CAUSINDY delegates. This year, EFL aims to improve confidence of using English for the students, as well as to cheerfully boost their creativity, curiosity and knowledge about Australia to build a respectful cross-cultural exchange between Australians and Indonesians.

The conference concludes on Saturday, 8 September 2018 with a concluding lunch at Hotel Melia, Makassar. The four-day conference has left an immense impression for everyone that contributed in making it all possible: CAUSINDY team, Australian and Indonesian delegates, five mentors, and partners. In conclusion, #CAUSINDY serves as a platform for young leaders to share innovative ideas, to explore creative ways to shape future projects and collaboration and is an esteemed avenue of networking and to create impact to preserve the Australia and Indonesia bilateral relationship.


Parts of the writing are sourced from


More information about 2018 CAUSINDY Delegates:

Australian delegates

Indonesian delegates


Rio Afifuddin