PAIR advisory panel offers first insights

The first meeting of the Research Advisory Panel (RAP) for the AIC’s major bilateral research program both cemented and leveraged on the program’s deep and vital ties to government, industry and community.


Panel members include Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries senior advisor Professor Jamaluddin Jompa, Australian consul general in Makassar Bronwyn Robbins, co-founder of the Indonesian Diffable Movement for Equality Ishak Salim, technical director of the Makassar port Prakosa Hadi Takariyanto, among other influential figures.

Between them, the panel’s range of experience covers all corners of the PAIR mission, and they came together for the first time on 26 August 2020, over Zoom.

After a welcome from meeting chair Prof Jamal, PAIR program director Dr Eugene Sebastian updated the group on the progress of PAIR, particularly regarding the core research, how the program has adapted to COVID-19, and the establishment of Small Rapid Research grant scheme.

Role of RAP

From RAP members, PAIR seeks assistance and guidance in conducting research around its four major themes: young people, health and welfare; young people and development; transport, logistics, and supply chain; and commodities. The new panel has three objectives:

  • ensure that PAIR work is demand-driven and aligned to South Sulawesi’s and Indonesia’s needs. This includes making sure that activities include adequate focus on women and girls, and people with disabilities
  • help with research integration, and
  • assist the PAIR Project Management Team and researchers to navigate the next three years of the program, through their expertise, insights and influence.

At the meeting, RAP members conveyed comments and concerns around the program’s research focus. One concern was in connectivity. Prof Wihana Kirana Jaya from the Ministry of Transportation stressed the importance of exploring macro, micro, and intermediate issues in transport and connectivity, and how they integrate in the response to the current COVID situation.

Research Streams

Dr Hasnawati Saleh, PAIR research coordinator and a RAP member, briefed the panel on the two streams of research happening under PAIR, both of which are to be completed by the end of this year. The first is PAIR Pilot Projects, involving preliminary systems and environmental mapping and analysis of data and stakeholder activity to help inform the design of the next phase of research (launching in December).

The second stream is research that responds directly to COVID-19, the Small Rapid Research (SRR) projects. These are funded through a reinvestment of travel savings that resulted from travel restriction due to the pandemic. These 12 rapid research projects will produce a timely analysis that draws from the best available evidence to help inform the policymakers in three people-focused areas: health, connectivity, economic recovery.

One of the challenges addressed in each program is the search for new ways to access data and conduct research under the various restrictions in place.

The Talent Accelerator Program

The advisory panel was also briefed on the Talent Accelerator Program (TAP), co-ordinated by Dr Martijn Van Der Kamp, which aims in the shorter term to develop ‘T-shaped’ researchers, or researchers with great depth of expertise in one area (the down stroke of the ‘T’) and basic knowledge across a wide range of areas (the cross stroke).

In the longer term, across PAIR’s 36 months, TAP also aims to build a bilateral knowledge network of cultural and collaborative connections for PAIR’s early career researchers, who are the AIC’s Associate Fellows.

Read also: Australia-Indonesia diplomacy bolstered by next generation of researchers

The virtual meeting facilitated the integration and exchange of ideas and perspectives from the various sectors represented, pertaining to the search for solutions to the current challenges of South Sulawesi caused by COVID-19.

“It is crucial that we work together to help the Indo-Pacific recover from COVID-19, particularly in regards to poverty and protecting vulnerable groups including women and girls”, said Australian Consul General Bronwyn Robbins.

In order to access and understand local and remote issues, social media and local community networks will be focuses of PAIR research: a feature supported by all RAP members, who welcomed the program enthusiastically.

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

Picture of Fadhilah Trya Wulandari

PAIR Program Officer
The Australia-Indonesia Centre