Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago. With more than 17,000 islands (6,000 inhabited). It is also the world's fourth most populous country. A culturally diverse country, Indonesia has 300 linguistic groups. The capital city is Jakarta.
Australia’s international volunteer program owes its origins to Indonesia. In 1951, a Melbourne University student named Herb Faith was inspired by an Indonesian invitation to Australians to live and work in partnership with the people of the newly-independent nation.
Since then AVI, in partnership with the Australian Government, has recruited and placed hundreds of skilled professionals in organisations across Indonesia, to contribute to lasting development in areas such as:
Improving health outcomes
Assignments in Indonesia have helped increase the capacity of local organisations in developing, implementing and managing various health programs. Australian volunteers have supported improvements in health outcomes by providing staff training and ongoing educational support to doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, and improved the efficiency and service delivery of local health providers.
Improving educational outcomes
Through partnerships with educational institutions, volunteer assignments support the professional development of teachers, vocational education trainers, education managers and administrators. Volunteers support the development of curriculum and assessment processes. By training the teaching staff in the latest teaching methodologies, volunteers help improve the quality of teaching especially in the English Language.
Supporting sustainable livelihoods
Volunteer assignments facilitate sustainable natural resource management and promote effective and sustainable agricultural development in Indonesia. Working with the local organisations, volunteers support the development of new initiatives for organic and sustainable farming.
Work towards good governance
Volunteer assignments support improvements in governance by working in government and non-government organisations with the local staff on strengthening processes and practices. Through training volunteers enhance the capacity of local organisations to increase advocacy in areas like health and gender equality.
As the development challenges faced by Indonesia in the 21st century have changed, so too has AVI’s strategic direction and in-country operations. In meeting these challenges Australian volunteers are now placed in clusters in smaller geographic areas as determined by the local development needs.
In 2004, Australian volunteers responded to the Asian tsunami that devastated the Indonesian province of Aceh. Volunteers helped gather information on the crucial needs of tsunami affected communities and advised relief agencies on aid shipments, security and logistical issues.
Volunteers have worked with government departments and agencies at international, national and local levels. They have also worked with universities, schools and other educational institutions, as well as national and local level non-government (NGO) and civil society organisations.
Statistics sourced from the United Nations Develop Programme (UNDP) Human Development Reports.
Main focus areas
Indonesia has had two decades of rapid economic development. However, the economic growth has been uneven resulting in poverty and unemployment, inadequate infrastructure, corruption and a complex regulatory environment. An estimated 16.2% of the population remain below the poverty line with an increased economic disparity between the rural and urban Indonesia.
Indonesia has almost universal primary enrolment rate. The Indonesian education system is the third largest in the Asian region and fourth largest in the world. However, there is a huge gap in enrolments between the economically disadvantaged and more affluent districts. Key challenges in education include increasing the enrolment of children from low socio-economic backgrounds in junior school along with improving the quality of basic education.
In the last few years, Indonesia has seen significant improvements in health outcomes. Under five mortality rate has declined to 29.3 per 1,000 live births. Similarly, there has been a significant decrease in maternal mortality rate from 620 per 100,000 live births in 1990, to 190 in 2014.
Despite of these improvements, communicable diseases and a growing rate of HIV/AIDS among high-risk groups, pose a great challenge to the country. While the national HIV infection level in Indonesia is low compared to some other countries (0.5 per cent), its large population means there are many Indonesians living with HIV. The impact of HIV/AIDS on the already run down healthcare system is likely to place increased stress on this system in the future.
Indonesia faces numerous environmental challenges. Illegal logging is a major issue for the country. Between 2000-2005, 9.36 million ha was lost due to illegal logging. This was mainly caused due to the increasing global demand of palm oil and timber.
Increasing population and rapid economic development along the coastline is threatening the country’s coastal environment resulting in negative impacts on air quality and public health.