Collaboration the key to PAIR’s progress amid COVID crisis

Entering the next phase of Partnership for Australia-Indonesia Research (PAIR), the Research Advisory Panel (RAP) reflected on achievements so far and made plans for the future.


Since its launch in July 2020, the RAP has held three virtual meetings. The first meeting was in August 2020, providing an overview of PAIR and introducing its members. The second meeting in November 2020 enabled collaboration between researchers and RAP members on research areas of focus . On June 16, 2021, the third meeting took place, as the PAIR Program Management Team met with the PAIR Research Advisory Panel to discuss progress while determining the best way for research to inform policies. At this meeting, the RAP members expressed their appreciation for the achievements obtained by PAIR in the second year of this program.

Progress to date and the road ahead

The panel discussed PAIR’s recent achievements, including the PAIR Annual Report for 2019-2020, and the release of the Pilot Project reports on commodities, transportation, young people, health and wellbeing, and young people and development. Twelve Rapid Research projects were launched to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first COVID-19 Rapid Research report on occupational health and safety of the health workers in Indonesia has been published. All research was completed in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic – a testament to the agility and innovation of all involved in PAIR to respond in conditions of crisis

Throughout 2021, our activities will continue with the commencement of the Strategic Integrated Project (SIPs), Tactical Work Packages (TWPs), and the new scheme launched to support human capital development in South Sulawesi – the Young People and Development Rapid Research (YPD-RR). The Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) strategy has been implemented, and the Talent Acceleration Program (TAP) will continue in 2021 and 2022.

The TWPs are currently in the research design stage and will complement the research projects carried out by PAIR Senior Fellows and Associate Fellows in South Sulawesi. The TWPs will integrate the four areas of the SIPS  and respond to the Australian Government’s Partnership for Recovery agenda which comprises three main areas: health security, stability and economic recovery. The TWPs will also strengthen PAIR’s work on gender equality and social inclusion, providing outputs that will benefit women and people with disabilities. These projects will be launched later in 2021.

Penta helix collaboration to adapt to a pandemic

The PAIR framework is flexible and agile enough to respond to challenging conditions. One major unforeseen event has been the COVID–19 pandemic. The pandemic has fundamentally changed our approach. Not only have we pivoted our operations in the face of unforeseen events, but our research projects are now contributing to the knowledge base that will inform post–COVID–19 recovery in Indonesia.

The RAP is made up of influential figures from the Australian and Indonesian governments, industry, research and the community. It has helped PAIR in carrying out the penta helix collaboration needed to adapt to a pandemic.

The Penta Helix model provides opportunities for various groups, such as government, academic, industry, community, and media as one unit to take a role in handling the COVID-19 pandemic. With all travel suspended, PAIR research combines desktop and secondary data analysis, with analysis of primary data collected using digital technologies and platforms.

“I really appreciate the research carried out by PAIR. In Indonesia, the problems that occur due to the pandemic are around mobility, so coordination does not run smoothly. The best policy coordination and collaboration is using the Penta Helix model,” said Prof Wihana Kirana Jaya, the Special Staff for Economic Affairs and Transportation Investment for the Minister of Transportation, Republic of Indonesia, and RAP member.

“The lessons learned from the 12 COVID-19 Rapid Research projects are around how to involve stakeholders to collect data and collaborate virtually in creative ways,” said Eugene Sebastian, PAIR Program Director and member of RAP.

The first COVID-19 Rapid Research  report has been published, and  11 more reports will be released in collaboration with our media partner, The Conversation Indonesia. The Conversation Indonesia is a leading media organisation that specialises in research publication and collaboration between journalists and academics.   This strategic partnership seeks to ensure our research  is widely disseminated to the public.  PAIR is also rolling out a communications strategy to connect our research with stakeholders who can turn our findings into policy, strategies and actions.

PAIR welcomed new RAP members

PAIR’s Research Advisory Panel comprises influential policy, academic, business and community leaders and seeks to address the coordination challenges between the national and subnational levels.  Recently, we welcomed two new members who joined to replace previous members. Welcome to:

  • Ms Anna McNicol, Acting Minister-Counsellor for Economic, Investment and Infrastructure, Australian Embassy in Jakarta, and
  • Prof Heri Hermansyah, Acting Director of Research and Community Engagement, Ministry of Research and Technology, Republic of Indonesia.

We also thank former members Allison Duncan and Prof Ocky Karna Radjasa for their contributions to the RAP and PAIR.

This virtual meeting marks another key building stone in connecting with a wide stakeholder network, as a step towards truly collaborative research and programs. We are looking forward to the next productive meeting in November.

Picture of Fadhilah Trya Wulandari

PAIR Program Officer
The Australia-Indonesia Centre

Picture of Marlene Millott

PAIR Program Officer
The Australia-Indonesia Centre