“The country town of Cowra lies about 300 km inland from Sydney. Every March, the town holds an International Festival. This year Indonesia was the country of focus. The townspeople, especially the children, were very involved. Schools prepared Indonesia-themed displays for the shop windows of the main street. Many children dressed in “merah putih”.

The Australia Indonesia Association brought their two becak from Sydney. These won a prize for the best-themed entry in the parade. A number of the AIA committee members made the journey from Sydney. Representatives from the Indonesian Diaspora NSW and Victoria attended. Also, Ambassador Pak Siswo and his wife lead a large Indonesian contingent from Canberra. The Konjen Pak Vedi came from Sydney with staff. The Suara Dance Group provided many performances of traditional Indonesian dances.

A formal dinner with entertainment was held on Friday evening, with the parade and more entertainment on Saturday. All agreed that the event was a great success in promoting interest in Indonesia. Congratulations to the staff of the Indonesian Embassy for all their efforts to make this event a success.”



AIA Autumn Dinner

The times have surely changed but not our friendship. We would be absolutely thrilled to have you on AIA event to get-together dinner party.




Jakarta AIA networking event, April 2, 2023

Isla, an AIA Commitee member, Jakarta based,  hosted our first AIA members networking event here in Jakarta, with AIA member (Sydney-based) Assoc Prof David Reeve as a guest of honour. He is visiting Asia to promote his book on OngHokHam – a famous Indonesian historian.




On 21 November 2022, at 13:21 West Java time, an Mww 5.6 earthquake struck near Cianjur in West Java, Indonesia. A total of 603 people were killed (as of the end of December 2022), 7,729 were injured, and approximately nine remain missing.

The Cianjur earthquake was declared a regional disaster. The Emergency Response Status for the Impact of the Cianjur Earthquake was 30 days, from November 21 to December 20, 2022, with the possibility of extension according to the situation and conditions in the field. Below is a summary of the aftermath of this earthquake:

  • 15 aftershocks and two earthquakes were recorded on 27 November, leading to landslides across the region
  • The number of displaced people is 73,874, including 33.713 men, 40.161 women, 92 people with disabilities, 1.207 pregnant women and 4.240 older people
  • 62,628 houses were damaged, of which 27,434 houses were severely damaged, 1,370 houses were moderately damaged, and 22,124 houses were slightly damaged.
  • Infrastructure: 398 schools, 160 places of worship, 14 health facilities and 16 office buildings have been damaged.

AIA’s response and follow-up:

Through its Jakarta-based representative, Isla Winarto, the AIA collected and donated a total of $500 from its own funds, with two members (Pat Hanna; Isla Winarto) donating separately $100 each. The total donated under the name of AIA was $700 (Rp.7,281,071 as of 8 December 2022, when funds were transferred to Yayasan Balarenik). See proof of transfer.

As was the case in 2021, during the peak of the covid pandemic, AIA collaborated once again with the local non-government, Jakarta-based organisation, Yayasan Balarenik, to channel the funds to the areas and communities most in need following the earthquake. Since then, Isla has been following up on a weekly basis regarding how Balarenik has been assisting the survivors of the quake and how the AIA funds were used.

For two weeks following the quake, Balarenik staff conducted a needs assessment in the field. As those residing in the area of Cianjur where the quake did the most damage received emergency aid within hours of the disaster, Balarenik focused on helping those communities on the outskirts, where damage and loss of life were also reported, but where little or no government aid was being received. Balarenik’s main focus was on a small village in the Cipendawa area, with 297 families, of which 523 are males, 472 are females, 95 babies, and 190 children.

With the AIA funds, the following aid was provided to the Cipendawa villagers:

  • Milk for the children
  • Basic hygiene needs (toothpaste, soap, shampoo)
  • Children’s school needs
  • Food staples (rice; oil; noodles)
  • Medicines (for rashes; headaches; fever)
  • Tarpaulin for emergency family tents


Total amount spent on AIA donation, as reported by Balarenik: Rp.7,164,000 of Rp. 7,281,071  donated. The remaining funds of Rp.117,071 (just over $10) were used to cover fuel costs to/from Cianjur.


See the photos below provided by Balarenik:








See the video:

AIA Visit

 NSW School of Languages on March 27, 2023


Letter of Appreciation from the Indonesian Ambassador to the AIA for our contribution to the Cowra Festival for International Understanding.


Australia Indonesia Awards 2022


The Australia Indonesia Awards Presentation, 9 April, was attended by a crowd of people including the Indonesian Ambassador and his wife. The following finalists were announced as the winners:
Innovation – Alexander Soeriyadi
Congratulation to the winners and to the finalists!!!



A rose was on the grave

In the small Australian country town of Cowra, about 300 km inland from Sydney, lie 13 Indonesian graves. They are located in the public cemetery beautifully maintained by Cowra Council. So who are these Indonesians who died far from their homeland? 

 The story goes back to World War II. Then, the Japanese were in control of a large part of Papua. The Dutch feared that the Japanese might reach Boven Digul, release the Indonesian political prisoners held there and use them for political purposes. So, in 1943, the Dutch decided to transfer these prisoners and their families to Australia, where the NEI government in exile was already established and where there were already thousands of Indonesians, many service members with KNIL or seamen with KPM.

 The Digulists were first flown by the Dutch Navy Catalina flying boat to Horn Island at the northern tip of Australia. They then travelled by ship to Sydney and Brisbane and finally by train to Cowra, where they arrived on June 25. The 500 Digulists were then held in the sizeable prisoner-of-war camp nearby. This camp already held thousands of POWs, mainly from Italy and Japan. In addition, the centre had held nearly 700 striking KPM seamen from Indonesia the previous year. They were striking because of their low wages compared to their Australian counterparts, particularly as they were required to undergo the dangers of serving in the war zone of New Guinea.

 Now, June is the middle of winter in Australia, and Cowra can be very cold. Some of the Digulists were not in good health and did not survive. Some babies were born, and one or two did not survive either. These are the Indonesians who lie buried in Cowra. When the Australian government realised that the Digulists were not criminals but rather political prisoners, they were all released from Cowra within a year. After the end of the war, they were repatriated to Indonesia. Some, such as Mohamad Bondan, married Australian women who joined them in Indonesia.

 The Australia Indonesia Association ( AIA ) was founded in Sydney in July 1945 to support the Indonesian independence movement and promote good relations between Australia and Indonesia. In March, the AIA made a weekend pilgrimage to Cowra to honour the sacrifice of those buried there. A bus was hired to travel from Sydney. The AIA party comprised about 40 people., The Indonesian Consul General Bp Vedi Kurnia Buana represented the Indonesian government. Representatives were also sent from the KBRI in Canberra, the AIA in Canberra, and the Indonesian Diaspora and Community organisations.

 The hosts were the Cowra Council, assisted by Mr Graham Apthorpe of the local historical society, the Breakout Association. This name relates to the massive escape of over 200 Japanese POWs in 1944. At the gravesite, the Mayor of Cowra, Mr Bill West, made a speech recognising the Indonesians’ sacrifice, to which Bp Vedi responded. Wreaths were then placed by the organisations represented.

 The occasion was particularly moving for two of the AIA party. Jan Lingard, the author of “Refugees and Rebels”, the definitive book on Indonesians in Australia during WW2, had known one of the Indonesian internees, Siti Chamsinah, a teenager during her time in Cowra. Jan was also instrumental in having the Indonesian graves identified and restored. Another lady, Isla Winarto, whose father, Andries Sorongan, is a Pahlawan Revolusi and lies buried in Taman Makam Pahlawan, Kalibata, proudly wore her father’s medals. It should also be mentioned that every November, around Indonesian Heroes Day, the KBRI and KJRI organise a formal ceremony at the gravesite.

 As guests of the AIA, 4 Indonesian postgraduate students were included in the AIA party undertaking PhDs at universities in Sydney, some with families. The committee of the AIA felt it essential that these visitors from Indonesia have the opportunity to experience this piece of Indonesian history in Australia, as well as to see some of the Australian countryside and experience some Australian hospitality. Therefore, these Indonesian students appreciated the opportunity to join the pilgrimage.

Cowra Council provided a wonderful dinner on Saturday night at which gifts were exchanged, and Jan Lingard spoke of the experiences of the Indonesians interned in Cowra. On Sunday morning, Graham Apthorpe and Neil Smith of the AIA conducted a tour at the site of the POW camp on the outskirts of town.

 There was also an opportunity to view the site of the proposed Indonesian memorial park, which overlooks the area of the POW camp.

Mr Vedi and his wife