Australia Awards in Indonesia

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23 Aug 2023

R. Dian Dia-an Muniroh's Advocacy for Humane Investigative Interviewing with Indonesian National Police

"Georgina is my reason why I go studying in Australia," said R. Dian Dia-an Muniroh when she reminisced about her PhD studies journey at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University.

Long before Dian became an Australia Awards scholar, she already had an engagement with an Australian academic.

While working as a lecturer at Indonesia Education University (UPI), Dian experienced her fateful encounter with Professor Georgina Heydon in 2011, a criminology and forensic linguist expert from RMIT who played an essential role in shaping Dian’s future.

The destined meeting took place when Georgina attended an international conference at UPI to give a lecture about forensic linguistics. For two whole days, Dian diligently followed Georgina's tutoring.

As Dian’s interest in forensic linguistics grew, she started to have correspondence with Georgina.

At first, Dian's intention in communicating with Georgina was only to deepen her understanding of forensic linguistics.

Finding Joy in the Lonely Journey

Dian’s first correspondence with Georgina occurred in 2012 when Dian conveyed her strong interest in joining an international conference held by the International Association of Forensic Linguists in Malaysia, which Georgina also attended.

Georgina then welcomed Dian’s enthusiasm with open arms and helped Dian so she could join the conference. Since then, Dian's bonds with Georgina have grown stronger and closer.

The following year, Dian’s bachelor thesis supervisor from UPI pushed Dian to apply for an Australia Awards Scholarship.

“In my whole life, I never applied for any scholarship, let alone Australia Awards,” Dian admitted.

Before deciding to apply for Australia Awards, Dian worried that once she was accepted to study in Australia, Georgina would no longer be teaching at RMIT.

“I want to make sure Georgina is not moving to another university,” Dian chuckled while emphasising how Georgina became a key factor in why she furthers her study at RMIT.

After being successfully granted the scholarship, in 2015, Dian flew to Australia to start her PhD study in Global, Urban, and Social Studies at RMIT.

Dian feels blessed that she got a supportive mentor like Georgina, who has advised her to participate in forensic interviewing class at RMIT. Dian said the knowledge she gained in that class acted as starting point on her journey in educating Indonesian police officers about investigative interviewing.

Studying at a prestigious university with a caring mentor like Georgina, Dian still felt lonely while pursuing her PhD.

Amid her solitude, Dian felt warmth and happiness because of the support provided by her campus, one of which was a routine gathering.

Outside her academic study, Dian kept herself busy during the weekend by working as a shop assistant in a market in Melbourne.

“Not only academic but I also learned about multicultural interaction in Australia; I think it’s a precious experience,” said Dian, who is also the author of a journal article titled Police Interviewing in Indonesia which was published in the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology.

Training Indonesian Police Officers

During her first year studying at RMIT, Dian faced a deadlock on her dissertation. Confusion and worries haunted her mind since she did not know what must be done to be able to do research on Indonesian National Police Headquarters (Mabes Polri) since she doesn’t have any friends or networking in Mabes Polri.

It was still in 2015 when Dian coincidentally met a group of Indonesian police at an international conference at Deakin University held by the International Investigative Interviewing Research Group (IIIRG). The police officer Dian met turned out very supportive and helped Dian gather her research data, and since then, they maintained a good relationship.

Two years after her graduation, in 2021, Dian was invited by the Greater Jakarta Metropolitan Regional Police (Polda Metro Jaya) to give training about investigative interviewing topics attended by 45 police investigators.

Dian explained that the majority of police investigators in Indonesia still use the standard method of interviewing, which has a high risk of coercion and psychological manipulation, which potentially leads to a miscarriage of justice.

Aiming to minimalise the risk of human rights violations, Dian introduced evidence-based interviewing in training held by Polda Metro Jaya.

Compared to conventional methods, the new method Dian taught had a higher possibility of unveiling even more information from the witnesses or suspects.

Throughout the training, Dian also educated the police investigators about the investigative interviewing technique used by police in England called the PEACE method, which allows the suspects and witnesses to tell everything they know without being interrupted by the investigator.

The training also required the police officers to play role to practice the new investigative interviewing method.

Until now, Dian is still advocating the new method so Polri can officially adopt it as the standard of investigative interviewing. Dian also plans to write a policy brief with her police friends in Polri before submitting it to the Chief of the Indonesian National Police, General Police Listyo Sigit Prabowo.

“For now, we focused on the training,” Dian said. She also already held four training sessions for the police after she graduated from RMIT.

Establishing Pusat TELISIK

A breakthrough also happened in UPI, initiated by Dian after she graduated from RMIT. In 2019, Dian saw the urgency to synergise and increase the capabilities of experts and academics from UPI, who often got requested by the police as an expert witness in linguistic-related law cases.

Dian then proposed the establishment of the Centre of Forensic Linguistic Research (Pusat TELISIK) in UPI. There are five main activities in Pusat TELISIK, education and training, research, advocating, community service, and partnership.

Three years later, Dian was assigned by Indonesia’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology (Kemendikbudristek RI) to fill the SEAMEO QITEP Language acting director position.

In 2022, Dian returned to RMIT, Melbourne, to continue her postdoctoral program sponsored by Kemendikbudristek RI. She once again worked together with Georgina.

“The most important thing from studying in Australia is we are exposed with more open-minded and critical thinking, and also required to see things using various perspectives,” Dian said.

While recollecting her past, Dian brings up how she successfully got through her time in crisis during her doctorate study because of support from RMIT.

“I feel the support system in RMIT is extraordinary, so here in UPI, I tried to create a similar environment, constructing a supportive community,” Dian said.

Having the luxury to immerse herself in the Australian education system, Dian is delighted to go back to study in the land down under again.

“If I am allowed to study again, I will gladly return to Australia. I rate it (study experience in Australia) ten out of ten,” Dian said excitedly.

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