Category Archives: Posts by language

The culture of culture

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IF you think about your culture – REALLY think about it.

Remove your emotions, those rose tinted glasses, all the romanticism you feel toward it and just look at it from a detached point of view- would you be able to identify issues with it?

And would you have the courage to speak out about it- not just to your friends and peers- but to your society as a whole.

I ask this question because in my travels through Australia- I’ve been confronted with this question and I’d be lying of if I didn’t admit that much of my free time is consumed turning the idea over in my head- like a baker kneading dough trying to find just the right consistency.

I’ll explain a little bit about myself though, I’m a 24-year-old Fijian male, 6 foot, blonde hair blue eyes- ok so i’m lying on that bit- I’m actually 23 lol.

My culture is something I am immensely proud of- even though I may not be as familiar with it as I should be.

Just the fact that I know I have an identity, a place, just the knowledge that my grandfather  and his grandfather before him all practiced and passed down the traditions that I am blessed with today.

And the cultural effects from mining is what I’m currently soaking up.

As part of this Mining, Media and Development Fellowship with the APJC- we are required to look at all the effects of mining- environmental, business, political and cultural.

And after a few sessions hearing from different speakers on the cultural effects of mining I started to think- Is my culture robbing women and young men of their voices when it comes to deciding whether or not to allow mining on indigenous land.

For those of you who don’t understand, let me explain.The Fijian culture is patriarchal.

The men make the decisions, their voices carry weight in village discussions. They sit at the top of the table and they drink the first bowl of Kava in formal ceremonies.

Women and young men- to put it politely- do not carry as much weight with their opinions.Unless of course they are chiefs in their own right.

That’s the way it’s been since the time of my grandfather and his grandfather before him.

Now when the newest mine in Fiji began to seek landowners approval for use of their land- the decision making process went straight to the Mataqali- or land owning units which of course are headed by men.

And two days before I came to Australia I listened to a panel that was convened to talk about mining in Fiji, one of the speakers presented a few statistics on the new mine.

The statistics showed how young men and women were marginalised when it came to the decision making process for giving mining companies permission to mine on THEIR land.

A survey conducted on a portion of the community showed that a staggering 76 per cent felt they were not included in the process- even though the mining operations would affect all in the area.

A further 15 per cent of 500 villagers surveyed had no idea what an EIA was.

Add to this the fact  that Indians -who had also settled nearby and would feel the effects just as equally-were not consulted- simply because they were not part of the landowning group.

Now back then it didn’t seem that wrong to me- I remember thinking ‘Well tough luck guys but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

But now I wonder- can the mining consultation process with a community actually be participatory when the culture present in the community is the exact opposite.

And this thought occurred to me during an APJC organised excursion to the Melbourne Writers Festival to catch a session on Tradition and Development.

They were talking about including the views of a community when deciding about aid for development- yes I know it’s not mining but the same principle applies.

Basically can we justify a development decision that includes the views of an indigenous community when the culture present is not a consultative one to begin with?

Am i making sense here?

With regards to our culture- have we gotten so used to doing things one way that we are actually passing off the injustices that arise because of it- as acceptable?

And to go even further do we know the finer details of why our culture is as it is? Or are we practising our culture for culture’s sake?

I’ll be honest I don’t know the answer to ALL the questions I’ve raised here – my feeling is that if we concede on on aspect of our culture then we place ourselves on a slippery slope.

And also these damn rose tinted glasses refuse to come off.

But then are we risking destroying ourselves as a society- from the inside out by not conceding on the negatives?

For my grandfather and his grandfather before him- I hope we find our answers very soon.

What’s media’s role in mining?

Oxfam Australia Mining Advocacy Leader Serena Lillywhite giving a presentation on the organization's Mining Program to APJC participants in Melbourne, Aus.

Oxfam Australia Mining Advocacy Leader Serena Lillywhite giving a presentation on the organization’s Mining Program to APJC participants in Melbourne, Aus.

Apart from PUBLIC RELATIONS for mining companies and GOVERNMANT AGENCIES that are tasked to regulate mining operations, how can the MAIN STREAM MEDIA have an impact on mining and development in general?

The ASIA PACIFC JOURNALISM CENTRE through it’s MINING, MEDIA and DEVELOPMENT-Regional Knowledge Sharing Training program, currenty underway for journalists in the Asia-Pacific region, aims to highlight some pending issues that many developing countries often encounter with mining investments.

One major highlight is the role that JOURNALISTS in main stream media can play in ensuring that mining companies are conducting their operations with MINIMAL NEGATIVE ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS and MANAGEMENT measures, FAIR sharing of BENEFITS derived from the mine project, and TRANSPARENCY and ACCOUNTABILITY by the companies on the host communties, who ARE often ILLITERATE and RURAL-BASED.

As a radio and television broadcast journalist in Papua New Guinea, a developing nation that is commemorating it’s 38 years of self independence on the 16th of September this year, the APJC program will greatly complement my work in the province of East New Britain.

With a mine currently operating under New Guinea Gold Limited, 2 explorations underway by Ok Tedi Mining Limited, and negotiations for a world first seabed mining by Nautilus Minerals Ltd on the radar, there is a great need for me as an informer, to make sure I am able to get the necessary information I need to do my work and in turn educate the mass audience in a province where radio is the main medium for disseminating news and information.

So unlike PRs and state agencies, main stream media should not have attachments to any of those parties already represented, but be a watch dog and do a check and balance through news reports, which at the end of the day, can have a positive impact on development from mining.

Foto : Sebelas peserta APJC (Mining, Media and Development) 2013

Hello Every body, saya coba untuk memperkenalkan sebelas peserta workshop untuk program Mining, Media dan Development 2013 yang di selenggarakan oleh Asia Pacific Journalism Centre (APJC). Siapa sajakah mereka.  Let’s see,


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Lovina dari Riau, Indonesia

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Dian dari Makassar, Indonesia

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Udin dari Bojonegoro, Jawa Timur, Indonesia

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Gabriel Bego dari Papua New guinea

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Rickson dari Solomon Island

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Gynne Kero dari Papua New Guinea

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Mapun dari Papua New Guinea

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Duma dari Papua.

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Ulfa (jilbab orange) dari Medan, Indonesia


Tevita dari Fiji


Tommy (saya sendiri) duduk merentangkan tangan.

Nah, kalian sudah melihat wajah mereka. Untuk mengetahui lebih jauh tentang mereka, tunggu update berikutnya yah. Coming Soon.

Mengunjungi Melbourne Writers Festival 2013

Dian Muhtadiah Hamna

Dian Muhtadiah Hamna

Presentation of Serena Lilywhite about mining

Presentation of Serena Lilywhite about mining

Training in JSchool, Brisbane

Training in JSchool, Brisbane



“SELAMAT pagi, Daeng ! ”. Ya, saya  bersama 10 jurnalis  jalan terburu-buru ketika kami turun dari tram, sebuah transportasi umum di kota Melbourne, Selasa malam, 27 Agustus lalu.  Waktu pukul 19.07 setempat. Lebih cepat dua jam dari waktu di Makassar. Udara kian dingin. Suhunya mencapai tujuh derajat celcius.

Namun, lalu lintas warga Melbourne, mereka yang berwajah Asia hingga Eropa, tak sepi.  Sibuk dengan pelbagai tujuan. Sama halnya  kami para jurnalis yang berburu waktu hingga tiba di depan Deakin Edge, gedung pertunjukan Melbourne Writers Festival (MWF). Gedung ini berada di Federation Square, Flinders Street yang berada di bagian utara Sungai Yarra yang terkenal itu.

Gemerlap kilatan lampu dari gedung-gedung pencakar langit memayungi Melbourne. Malam kian romantis.  Tak sedikit pemuda dan pemudi berjalan bergandengan tangan.

Kami, enam di antaranya dari Indonesia,  sisanya dari Kepulauan Solomon, Papua New Guinea dan Fiji, mengejar langkah cepat Laura Gilmartin menuju ruang pertunjukan.  Perempuan berusia 27 tahun itu  salah satu pemandu  kami selama di Melbourne.

Dia merupakan staf Asia Pasific Journalism Centre (APJC),  sebuah organisasi non profit yang memiliki program untuk meningkatkan kualitas jurnalisme di kawasan Asia Pasifik. Dan, kunjungan ke MWF ini adalah bagian dari agenda APJC selama kami berada di Australia, 24 Agustus-28 September.

Laura memamerkan senyum lebar ketika menolehkan wajah kepada kami. Kedua lesung pipitnya saling bertemu.  Mengingatkan saya akan wajah manis Kate Middleton.

Perempuan kelahiran Melbourne ini berucap sesaat,  bahwa pertunjukan sudah dimulai.  Maklumlah, untuk mencapai gedung ini, berkisar 20 menit dari apartemen kami di Finlay Place Carlton. Padahal, tak sampai satu jam sebelumnya, kami baru pulang dari kantor pusat APJC yang terletak di bilangan Amess Street, Carlton North. Menerima materi mengenai Leadership dari pagi hingga jelang magrib.

Hampir tiba di depan pintu gedung, antrean mengular. Laura berbincang dengan salah satu panitia. Anggukan panitia itu seiring dengan pintu gedung yang dibuka. Kami pun masuk.

Untuk mengikuti festival yang digelar sejak 22 Agustus lalu dan berakhir malam tadi, Minggu, 1 September, pengunjung dikenakan tiket masuk. Namun ada juga yang gratis. Itu tergantung  kategori  event yang digelar.  Misalnya tentang literatur, jurnalisme, menjadi pembicara utama, menggali ide-ide menulis, menikmati pertunjukan seni ataupun temu penulis.

Namun rata-rata, tiket yang dijual seharga 20 AUD (Australia Dollar) atau sekitar Rp200 ribu per orang. Malam itu, kami masuk secara gratis.

Kursi-kursi yang diatur berjenjang mengikuti anak tangga telah penuh ketika kami  di dalam. Kapasitas gedung ini disiapkan untuk 600 penonton. Kami yang terlambat, tak kebagian tempat duduk.

Beruntung, balkon gedung masih lapang. Di situlah, kami lesehan sambil menikmati presentasi para narasumber dari ketinggian. Di panggung yang didesain artistik dengan tatakan buku  di rak, hadir empat narasumber.

Mereka adalah Duta Besar Timor Leste untuk Australia, Abel Guteres, Pendiri SOKOLA Indonesia, Butet Manurung, Dosen Fakultas  Bahasa dan Budaya Universitas Monash, Melbourne, Simon Musgrave, serta Konsultan Bank Pembangunan Asia (ADB) Stephen Pollard.  Diskusi hangat ini dipandu  Natasha Mitchell,  presenter program Life Matters di Radio Nasional ABC .

Butet Manurung, menjadi satu-satunya penulis dari Indonesia yang diundang menjadi pembicara dalam festival bergengsi ini. Tahun lalu, penulis buku  Makkunrai asal Makassar, Lily Yulianti Farid juga menjadi pembicara.

“Ini pertanyaan bagi saya.  Mana lebih dulu, pembangunan atau mempertahankan adat ?” tanya Butet ketika tiba gilirannya mengurai pendapat.

Perempuan yang meraih gelar S-2 bidang Antropologi Terapan dan Pembangunan Partisipatif di Australian National University Canberra itu, menyatakan bahwa informasi yang diperoleh berdasarkan pendidikan adalah modal untuk mempertahankan tradisi.

Dia mencontoh, motivasinya mengajarkan baca tulis bagi Orang Rimba, suku nomaden yang tinggal di hutan wilayah Jambi, demi menghadapi tekanan modernisasi. “Informasi yang cukup akan membantu mereka secara sukarela mau berubah atau tidak terhadap jalan hidup yang telah dipilihnya,” paparnya.

Dia juga mengkritik, bagaimana masyarakat akan menjaga budaya mereka bila pemerintah tidak membantu dalam hal pembangunan.

Sementara itu, Abel Guterres menguraikan  agar masyarakat tidak memotong akar budayanya sendiri dan kehilangan identitas diri ketika dia mengadopsi modernitas. “Identitas budaya Anda adalah apa yang memungkinkan Anda untuk tetap bersatu dan berjuang. Sehingga pendidikan adalah kunci  pembangunan di dunia,” ingatnya.

Di bawah sana, saya mengamati wajah-wajah para penonton  yang serius menyimak. Banyak di antara mereka yang sibuk mencatat melalui kertas  maupun notebook. Tak terelakkan pula, rebutan pertanyaan dari penonton membuat Natasha Mitchell harus pandai-pandai membagi waktu yang hanya disiapkan selama satu jam.

Anonymous, mahasiswi Universitas Monash asal India datang bersama kekasihnya, Carz, malam itu. “Saya ingin mengetahui  ide-ide pembicara bagaimana mereka mampu melindungi masyarakat dalam mempertahankan tradisinya,” ucap perempuan berambut panjang ini tentang motivasinya mengikuti festival tersebut.

Mike Shuttleworth, Manajer Program Melbourne Writers Festival mengatakan, festival yang digelar mulai pukul 10 pagi hingga 10 malam itu mampu menyedot total 50 ribuan pengunjung selama kegiatan ini berlangsung. “Festival ini digelar setiap tahun sejak 1986. Lebih dari 300 penulis, termasuk sastrawan kontemporer, antropolog, ilmuwan dan politisi ambil bagian di perayaan ini,” terang pria berkacamata itu.

Lily Yulianti Farid, Direktur dan Pendiri Makassar International Writers Festival (MIWF) mengakui inspirasi mendirikan MIWF  tahun 2011 lalu timbul dari festival MWF ini. “Saya berharap  agar kehadiran MIWF tidak disia-siakan warga Makassar ketika festival itu digelar. Karena inilah kesempatan penulis dan pembaca bisa sharing sastra dan literasi dengan mengandalkan sumber daya lokal,” papar Lily di kediamannya, Hope Street, Brunswick. (*)







A Not Warm Enough Brisbane


By Wan Ulfa Nur Zuhra


Brisbane River | Photo by: Lovina Soenmi

Brisbane River | Photo by: Lovina Soenmi

“That will be so much warmer there,” said few people in Melbourne when I told them that I will going to Brisbane.

At the beginning of September, winter has just ended in Australia, spring has been coming. The temperature is getting warmer every day. This is the perfect time to visit Australia, even for those who are not familiar with the cold temperatures like me, have to wear clothes that covered enough.

I spent ten days in Melbourne, a week for leadership training, and three days for Mining and Resource Reporting Workshop. Then move to Brisbane—Capital city of Queensland—for Digital Journalism workshop. It is a part of Mining, Media, and Development Workshop held by the Asia Pacific Journalism Centre (APJC), followed by 11 journalists from Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and Solomon Island. Workshop will last for five weeks.


Erick Eklund, Professor of History, Monash University sedang memberikan materi tentang Mining in Australia Society |  Dok. APJC

Erick Eklund, Professor of History, Monash University sedang memberikan materi tentang Mining in Australia Society | Dok. APJC

In Melbourne, all of the fellows stay at Quest Carlton on Finlay, an apartment that is close enough to downtown Melbourne. When flying to Brisbane, we were allowed to leave some items in the Quest, because later we will return to the apartment.

When packing, the phrase “that will be so much warmer there” kept ringing. Finally I decided to leave all my jackets in Quest.

Arrived at Brisbane International Airport, we were greeted by sunshine, which is not warm, it was windy. Similarly, the next day, which I did not bring a jacket, had to withstand the cold the same as Melbourne. I do not (probably not yet) find the ‘so much warmer ‘ Brisbane.

Weekend di Tepi Pantai

Oleh Lovina

Duduk dari kiri: Gynnie, Ulfa, saya, Suzy (leadership trainer), Duma, Mapun. Berdiri dari kiri: Rickson, Tevita, Gabriel, Udin, Cucu (translator), Dian, Tommy

Duduk dari kiri: Gynnie, Ulfa, saya, Suzy (leadership trainer), Duma, Mapun. Berdiri dari kiri: Rickson, Tevita, Gabriel, Udin, Cucu (translator), Dian, Tommy

KELAS leadership bersama Suzy Woodhouse diakhiri dengan foto bersama Jumat sore (30 Agustus). Kami berfoto dilatar belakangi gambar apel serta kertas-kertas hasil diskusi selama seminggu.

Di akhir kelas, Suzy menanyakan tiga materi yang paling menarik selama seminggu kelas leadership. Masing-masing peserta diberi kesempatan bicara. Kami belajar banyak hal: mengenal diri sendiri, nilai-nilai dan etika, dilema etika para jurnalis, kekuatan, komunikasi, suara, ketegasan, prinsip persamaan, jaringan serta kepribadian.

Bagaimana menjadi assertive (tegas) adalah pelajaran paling menarik bagi saya. Mengapa? Jawabannya simple. Saya tergolong orang yang tidak tegas. Tak mudah bagi saya untuk berkata ‘tidak’ atau mengungkapkan hal yang tidak saya sukai tanpa membuat orang lain tersinggung. Dan Suzy memberikan formula jitu menjadi orang assertive. That’s grade!

Tes kepribadian Myers-Briggs Typology Index (MBTI) adalah sesi lain yang saya senangi. Menarik bisa tahu kepribadian sendiri lebih dalam dan belajar bekerjasama dengan orang yang berbeda kepribadian dengan kita.

Saya juga menikmati moment ketika kami diajarkan untuk bisa mengenal diri sendiri dengan konsep Johari Window. Sejauh apa saya mengenal diri saya sendiri? Apa kebiasaan buruk yang tidak saya sadari?

Menurut saya, konsep Johari Window akan menarik bila dipadukan dengan konsep De-brief Routine yang diberikan Suzy. Dengan me-list setiap hari apa hal yang baik, hal tidak baik dan apa yang harus dilakukan untuk memperbaikinya, kita akan menjadi pribadi yang lebih baik dan berguna untuk orang banyak.


AKHIRNYA bertemu weekend juga. Dengan jadwal yang padat selama seminggu, tentu weekend adalah saat yang dinantikan. Bisa bangun lebih siang. Bisa santai dan melakukan hal-hal yang disenangi. Dan bisa jalan-jalan tentunya, mengeksplore Melbourne lebih jauh.

Setiap peserta punya rencana weekend masing-masing. Dan saya memilih menghabiskan akhir pekan dengan pergi ke pantai.

Mengapa pantai? Pertama karena saya jarang menikmati suasana pantai. Di Pekanbaru, tempat saya tinggal, tidak ada pantai. Alasan kedua karena pantai cukup jauh dari tempat kami menginap. Prinsip saya, semakin jauh saya menghabiskan akhir pekan akan semakin menarik. Kapan lagi bisa eksplore Melbourne lebih jauh. Semakin jauh saya pergi akan semakin banyak yang bisa saya lihat. Bukan begitu?

Saya pergi ke dua pantai di Melbourne. Sabtu ke St. Kilda Beach dan Minggu ke Brighton Beach. Perjalanan ke pantai ditempuh dengan naik tram menggunakan Myki Card.

Tram adalah salah satu alat transportasi di Melbourne. Untuk bisa bepergian menggunakan tram, kita harus punya Myki Card. Kartu ini bisa dibeli di setiap stasiun kereta atau toko seperti 7 Eleven. Kalau bepergian tidak pakai Myki, kita bisa didenda hingga 200 dollar Australia. Wow! Untungnya APJC sudah menyediakan fasilitas Myki Card untuk setiap peserta, jadi kami tinggal pakai saja untuk pergi kemana pun kami mau.

tram  Myki travel card scanners.

Myki Card bentuknya seperti kartu ATM, berwarna hijau muda. Harganya 6 dollar Australia untuk full fare dan 3 dollar Australia untuk anak-anak umur 4-16 tahun. Itu hanya harga kartunya saja, untuk bisa menggunakannya, kita harus top up alias isi ulang kartu tersebut.

Seharian naik tram, kereta api atau bus di dalam kota, kita akan menghabiskan sekitar 7 dollar Australia. Myki Card tidak hanya untuk tram, ia juga berlaku kalau kita bepergian naik bus atau kereta api. Cara pakainya sederhana, kita tinggal touch atau menempelkan kartu ke mesin Myki saat kita naik dan turun dari bus, tram atau kereta api.

Pelajaran paling berharga yang saya dapatkan dari sistem transportasi di Melbourne ini adalah kejujuran. Ya, pemerintahnya mendidik rakyatnya untuk jujur. Tak ada yang memantau apakah kita sudah touch Myki atau belum saat naik atau turun dari bus, tram maupun kereta api. Kalau kita mau nakal, tidak touch Myki juga tidak apa-apa. Namun karena warganya sudah tertib, saya jadi malu sendiri kalau tidak touch Myki saat naik atau turun. Toh gratis juga kan? Karena biaya kartu dan top-up nya sudah ditanggung APJC.

Bisa nggak ya Indonesia pakai sistem transportasi begini? Nggak yakin deh! Bakal rugi besar pemerintahnya, ha ha ha…

Saya pergi ke St. Kilda Beach bersama Tommy Apriando (Indonesia), Duma Tato Sanda (Indonesia) dan Mapun Pidian (Papua New Guinea). Kami menunggu sunset untuk berfoto bersama.

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St. Kilda Beach merupakan pantai terdekat dari kota Melbourne. Letaknya sekitar 6 kilo meter dari pusat kota. Kalau dari hotel Quest Carlton on Finlay tempat kami menginap, jaraknya sekitar 10 kilo meter. Butuh waktu 30 menit perjalanan pakai tram.

St. Kilda Beach terkenal dengan pantai berpasir yang cantik, deretan pohon palem, langit biru yang luas, sunset yang indah, serta taman, restoran dan kafe yang elok. Banyak festival dan tempat menarik yang juga bisa dikunjungi, seperti Luna Park, Acland Street dan Fritzoy. Kalian bisa tahu lebih banyak tentang St. Kilda dengan mengunjungi websitenya.

Saya, Tommy, Duma dan Mapun menghabiskan waktu sekitar 2 jam di St. Kilda Beach. Ambil gambar sunset adalah moment paling menyenangkan. Sayang tak bisa melihat pinguin kecil di St. Kilda Breakwater karena tempatnya sedang ditutup.


St. Kilda Breakwater adalah tempat kita bisa melihat pingun kecil dan Rakali. Ia juga memiliki sekitar 22 ribu ton batu karang. Hampir 1000 pinguin hidup di sana.

Esok harinya, saya mengeksplore Brighton Beach di kota Bayside, sekitar 11 kilo meter dari kota Melbourne. Kali ini kami pergi bertujuh. Saya, Tommy, Duma, Mapun, Tevita Vuibau (Fiji), Gabriel Bego (Papua New Guinea) dan Gynnie Kero (Papua New Guinea).

Sama seperti St. Kilda Beach, kami menggunakan tram untuk pergi ke Brighton Beach. Bedanya, untuk bisa sampai ke pantai, kami harus berjalan kaki satu jam! Ide gila memang.

Awalnya kami tidak menyangka kalau harus berjalan kaki sejauh itu. Kami hanya tahu naik tram dari hotel menuju East Brighton. Naik tram 64 selama 1 jam, kami turun di pemberhentian terakhir. Sampai sana, setelah tanya sana-sini, baru tahu kalau mau ke pantai harus jalan kaki satu jam.

Sebenarnya ada bus yang bisa digunakan untuk pergi ke pantai dari kota East Brighton. Namun karena hari itu hari Minggu, busnya tidak beroperasi. Jadilah kami berjalan kaki ke pantai. Kebayang nggak tuh pegelnya nih kaki.

Namun penat seketika hilang ketika saya tiba di pantai. Indah banget pantainya. Rumah warna-warni di pinggir pantai membuat suasana menjadi lebih indah. Cukup ramai orang di pantai hari itu. Ada yang berjemur, foto-foto di depan rumah, maupun sekedar duduk-duduk di pinggir pantai menikmati sinar matahari.

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Pantainya bersih, airnya sejuk dan dingin, banyak kerang juga. Saya bawa pulang 10 buah kulit kerang yang berserakan di sepanjang pasir pantai. Tentu tak ketinggalan berfoto di rumah-rumah pinggir pantai. Setiap rumah diberi nomor dengan cat aneka warna dan rumah ini disewakan. Terbayang bisa punya rumah di pinggir pantai begini. Pasti amat menyenangkan.

Pulangnya kami harus jalan kaki lagi ke tempat pemberhentian tram. Perjalanan yang melelahkan memang, namun menyenangkan. Dua jam berjalan kaki dan dua jam naik tram. Tentu sangat banyak yang bisa dilihat. Pengalaman tak terlupakan. Dan tentu saja weekend yang memuaskan sebelum melajutkan workshop APJC tentang Reporting Mining and Resources bersama Nigel McCarthy.


What kind of Iraq are we leaving behind?

By Daniel Santopietro

A key issue that really got my attention at the eTour was the way in which Iraq was developing as a nation ten years after the invasion. I found it fascinating to hear from everyone who spoke about the war, the turbulent times Iraq was going through, and fascinating to hear from people who fled Iraq. This was something that got me interested in reporting on the development challenges that Iraq still faces today. In doing further research for my piece I stumbled upon a speech given by United States President Barack Obama back in late 2011. This was a period of final withdrawal of troops in the country, and while he acknowledged that Iraq was not the perfect place, he went on to say “we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq.” From the topics that were being discussed on Saturday at the eTour, I knew like many others that this was simply not the case.

The message that I kept hearing throughout the day from the speakers was a country that was going through a really difficult period, and was struggling. While Iraq is mentioned on some news outlets, here and there, the international media disappeared after the final withdraw. I had read the likes of Janine Di Giovanni on the experiences she has had reporting on conflicts especially in Iraq, but as an independent journalist, Donna Mulhearn really opened my eyes up to the situation in Iraq. As a journalist myself, I find it courageous what Donna has done and achieved while in Iraq, in the face of violence she goes out there and reports on the challenges that are facing the country.

I now know more than what I had before about Iraq. I knew however deep down, that the country was still unsafe, but at the same time I had been hoping that the lack of media attention on the country had meant that the country had been steadily progressing politically, economically and socially. This is an area that through my radio report, I wanted people to hear and understand. The eTour has been, by no doubt a very good insight into the country, and as a journalist, I found it incredible that Iraq is not to be forgotten. All the speakers were excellent, and in my opinion they all see hope for the country, if not in the short term than in the long term. It is a very fascinating topic to discuss. Attending the eTour has made me realise that there is more for Iraq, there is more to discuss and report about, and I am to return to the topic of Iraq and report on its progress as a nation.

Businesses in Lae affected from recent uprising


Retail specials courtesy of

Recent ethnic uprising in Lae had severly affected businesses in Papua New Guinea’s second capital last month.

Petty crimes had caused anger amongst locals resulting in some deaths and business houses forced to close up in fear of their property being looted by opportunists.

Police were deployed from Port Moresby and Southern Highlands to beef up police numbers to contain the situation.

However a law and order committee has been set up who are working closely with ethnic representatives in the province to ensure that all comply with measures put in place by provincial and national government.

In light of this events, companies saw a down fall in production and sales takings for at least a week last month with major companies as Coca Cola.

It is unlikely that a better resolution will be made to resolve to this long-standing issue as a result of street-vendors selling items in parts of the street and at the same time involving in petty crimes as bag snatching, rape and alcohol related problems.

This now falls back on the local authorities part to come up with informed decisions to stamp out such social problems once and for all as Lae is still Papua New Guinea’s economic hub that produces up to sixty percent of the country’s economic income.

Are you experiencing similar problems in your country, province, town, village? or What are some ways that we can develop to rid off regionalism and work for the better?


Belajar, Diskusi, dan Kedinginan

“SUDAH lama menunggu? Maaf saya terlambat, karena jalan ditutup tadi ada demo Melbourne Occupy.”

Seorang perempuan muda berkulit putih, menghampiri kami di Tullamarine Airport, Melbourne pada pertengahan Oktober 2011. Kami berempat dari Indonesia: Nugie, Yulan, Made, serta saya baru saja tiba dari Jakarta setelah kurang lebih tujuh jam berada di pesawat. Cuaca dingin menembus pori-pori sweater biru yang aku kenakan. Aku berulang kali menarik nafas, “Aduh dinginnya kota ini. Padahal ini sudah musim semi,” aku berguman dalam hati.

Setelah berbincang sejenak, Putri As, perempuan yang menjemput kami dan merupakan staf Asia Pacific Journalist Centre (APJC) mengajak kami menaiki satu taksi kuning menuju penginapan kami di apartemen Quest di Lygon St. Dari kunci yang diberikan, saya tahu akan satu apartemen dengan Luke Guterres seorang peserta dari Timor Leste. Continue reading

Learning Climate Change in Five Weeks

The Reporting Climate Change and the Environment Workshop organised by the Asia Pacific Journalism Centre was a good experience for me personally as I got to meet other journalists from around the region, share stories and experiences, talk to the scientists and experts involved in organisations concerned with the issue of climate change and visit some of the sites within Melbourne and Tasmania.

The first week was quite effective in helping us to prepare for the four weeks ahead, involving personal and leadership skills. I discovered a lot about my personality and how I do things at work. Also learning about how to manage stress and how to become a better negotiator by influencing others at work. I also found that mentoring skills were useful to resolve problems I might be dealing with at work.

During the second week I was nervous as I didn’t know what to expect discussing climate change but Philip Chubb was quite helpful in providing a basic introduction into the topic first by telling us about Australia’s position on climate change with the passing of Australia’s legislation in parliament on carbon tax. Also guest speakers from The Age, Oxfam, the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility and Monash University gave a better insight into climate change effects happening globally and ways to report it.

The visit to the Melbourne Zoo was enjoyable as we got to see the animals but were also informed of the conservation areas around the world and extinct species under protection programs. Going to the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation was quite eye opening and interesting as I got to learn about the science of climate change and being able to get a report on Samoa under the Pacific Climate Change Science Program which is something I would like to follow up when I get home.

By the second week I learned to create a blog and I found it a nifty way to get my news stories out there and is also a good way to keep in touch with the other fellows and get an update on what climate change stories they have written since the workshop.

More discussions followed on climate change during the following week with Phil Chubb before we had to prepare for Hobart. While in Tasmania we met Environment Editor for The Age, Adam Morton and visited Styx Valley. Also met Vica Bayley from the Wilderness Society and two representatives from REDD. Seeing firsthand what had been discussed at APJC, I got to see areas that had been logged and heard from Vica how they were trying to conserve some of the forests that were to be logged. The next day we visited the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park and fed kangaroos which was fun! :)…We then continued on to Port Arthur and took the ferry to the Isle of the Dead to see a mark which measures sea level rise and according to John Hunter from the Institute for the Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania the sea level has risen by 13cm during a certain period since they conducted their research.

We also visited the Environmental Defenders Office to talk about the environmental policies in Tasmania and the Australia Antarctic Division which I found interesting how Dr Rob King explained how they were conducting a special research on krill from the Antarctic. The symposium at the University of Tasmania gave us all the opportunity to share the experience of reporting climate change within the Asia Pacific Region. I thought the group did really well in answering questions from the audience and they were just as impressed too. It was sad to leave Hobart as it was such a nice quiet place and we had seen so much but the memories will be with me always.

Returning back to APJC, we have one more week to go and this week will be assigned for work attachment. I have learnt so much during this workshop and am grateful to APJC, AusAid and Cherelle Jackson for this valuable opportunity.