16 Apr 2016

Giving Back to Australia during a Time of Need

In 2005, Abelian Prajnya Yodha was granted an Australian Development Scholarship to pursue a double Masters Degree in Strategic Affairs and Diplomacy at the Australian National University. His experience during his studies has assisted him tremendously in performing his duties during his assignment as diplomatic staff at the Indonesian Consulate General in Melbourne – first under the Information, Social and Cultural Affairs Section in 2007 and the Protocol and Consular Section the following year up to 2011.

At his second section assignment, Abelian was responsible for granting approval to any passport renewal and visa application, protecting Indonesian citizen and assets, as well as providing reports and inputs for the Consul General during policy making processes. One such occasion that stood out was during the 2009 Victoria forest/bush fire. The Consul General had asked for input from  his staff on how Indonesia could provide assistance and contribution for Australia during this time of need. Abelian recalled a training on Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) conducted by specialist from Australia for a number of representatives from institutions in Indonesia. Abelian proposed that the Indonesian Government send these trained personnel to assist Australian Government in identifying victims. His idea was endorsed by the Consul General, then wired to Jakarta and received approval from the President the same day.

The Indonesian DVI delegation consisted of 8 people who worked along Australian officers for a period of two weeks. Abelian recalled conducting site visits with his team accompanied by the local police at those fire sites.  Sadly, two Indonesian citizens were later found among the victims identified. At the end of the collaborative efforts, Indonesia was among the list of countries formally thanked by the Australian Government for their assistance during the fire.

Upon his return to Indonesia, Abelian continued to contribute toward bilateral and regional relations. He currently serves as Head of Section, Directorate of Dialogue Partners and Inter-Regional Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Abelian is responsible for managing both programs and meetings within the ASEAN and the United States cooperation. Some of the programs under Abelian’s supervision include development programs, disaster management, and the drafting of ASEAN – US  Plan of Action 2011-2015 which was later agreed by the ministers and then endorsed by the heads of state in Bali, November 2011. Abelian is also in charge of developing position papers for Indonesia for various levels of collaborative meetings – working group, senior officials, ministerial and heads of state meeting – between ASEAN and the United States.

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