PAIR Annual Report 2019-2020

The Partnership for Australia-Indonesia Research (PAIR) is an international development initiative that brings together researchers, policymakers, business partners and the community groups to find solutions to real problems – in a clever, integrated way.


PAIR is led by the Australia-Indonesia Centre (AIC) and supported by the Australian and Indonesian Governments, as well as 11 universities. It is building the enduring networks and partnerships that form the bedrock of a successful bilateral relationship between Australia and Indonesia.

At the Government level, PAIR is recognised as a strategic point of priority in the Plan of Action under the Australia-Indonesia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

Download the full ‘PAIR Annual Report 2019-2020’ here

This reflects a key understanding by both countries: that PAIR plays an important role in terms of both substantive research, and in pushing forward the frontiers of innovative cooperation between both research communities.

PAIR challenges those who view universities as slow, ineffectual bureaucracies. And it rejects the outdated notion that bilateral research centres are about one country seeking to research the other.

Instead, PAIR has involved Indonesian and Australian stakeholders from the outset, defining problems and creating solutions together.

It’s a new approach. And it gives our solutions the best chance of having an impact.

Through the research theme of ‘Connectivity, People and Place’, PAIR is creating the evidence base for informed policymaking in South Sulawesi.

Why South Sulawesi? It’s a priority region for the Indonesian Government. New industrial economic zones are emerging in the area, known as the gateway to Eastern Indonesia. An ambitious Trans-Sulawesi railway network is under construction.

By focusing on South Sulawesi, we channel our resources into building enduring relationships that best deliver effective and sustainable outcomes.

Already, we’re acting as a catalyst in the region. Our program is bringing together Indonesian government stakeholders from the local, provincial and national levels, many of whom are collaborating for the first time.

We are creating the basis for a knowledge ecosystem, which will directly inform development in the region. Our research covers four connected research groups, each highly relevant for South Sulawesi:

  • Commodities
  • Transport, Logistics and Supply Chain
  • Young People and Development
  • Young People’s Health and Wellbeing.

Complex problems require interdisciplinary solutions. We bring together researchers from Indonesia and Australia working in diverse fields and at various stages of their careers.

The new knowledge we are creating targets various audiences, from government to business and the broader community. Outputs include scoping studies, technical guidelines, case studies, explainers, news stories and journal articles.

Underpinning PAIR is our Theory of Change (TOC), which does two things: it maps the logical sequence from inputs to outcomes, and it presents some of the contextual conditions influencing the program, including the motivations and contributions of stakeholders.

The research design and TOC have been created for easy monitoring, evaluation and learning. The TOC also defines pathways to impact, ensuring that all our activity is progressing our two End of Program Outcomes:

  1. High quality evidence-based, interdisciplinary and demand-driven research that is relevant to, and addresses, key policy and development challenges
  2. A network of researchers skilled in demand-driven and interdisciplinary inquiry to respond to complex development contexts.

The PAIR EOPOs reflect the strong development focus of the program. Funds will be allocated to ensure that systems and processes (Theory of Change and Monitoring and Evaluation Framework) are oriented to capturing and reporting on relevant development outcomes and successes.

Successfully connecting research with policymakers requires effective collaboration with stakeholders in business, universities, various levels of government and the community.

PAIR positions university expertise at the heart of that knowledge ecosystem. It acknowledges and seeks to address the coordination challenges between the national and subnational levels by bringing together national and subnational stakeholders around a focused challenge.  For instance, an important PAIR stakeholder and supporter is the Governor of South Sulawesi, who is an academic and understands the importance of evidence-based research. PAIR’s Research Team also includes a member of Bank Indonesia’s board of supervisors, a member of the National Science and Technology Council, a co-author of Indonesia’s national logistics blueprint, and an advisor to the Ministry of Transport. Another is on the frontline of Indonesia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. And PAIR’s Research Advisory Panel comprises influential policy, academic, business and community leaders.  It includes, for example, the Deputy Minister for Food and Agribusiness – leading the development and implementation of Indonesia’s National Seaweed Plan – senior advisors to the Minister of Transportation and the Minister of Maritime Affairs and representation from industry associations, gender and social inclusion groups. Our Senior Fellows are working with emerging career researchers in both countries under our Talent Accelerator Program (TAP), through which we are training the next generation of researchers to collaborate effectively on future development challenges, beyond PAIR.

Download the full ‘PAIR Annual Report 2019-2020’ here

Our work has made us acutely aware that a successful bilateral relationship is built on these deep, enduring relationships between Australian and Indonesian researchers and policymakers.

Reflecting on this, PAIR can demonstrate significant early success over its first year. This includes:

  • We have established close partnerships with the Provincial Governor’s Task Force for Development (TGUPP), the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Research and Technology, each of which joined PAIR as policy partners, serve as members of the Research Advisory Panel and form the foundation champions for the PAIR Network.
  • We have convened a series of policy dialogues with key stakeholders at national, provincial and district level and the PAIR team to discuss national priorities relevant to PAIR, explore central-provincial policy alignment around the railway project, seaweed development and poverty reduction, and identify opportunities to collaborate and share data.
  • Four Pilot Projects are underway based on policy dialogues with stakeholders across the four research areas – commodities, transport, logistics and supply chain, young people health and wellbeing and young people and  development.
  • Partner co-investments (cash and in-kind) and leverage have been secured from all 11 university partners, in addition to DFAT funding, as well as an in-principle cash investment from the Indonesian Government. Other in-kind support includes serviced offices in Makassar at Universitas Hasanuddin, and Jakarta at the Knowledge Sector Initiative (KSI), as well as the time of our 29 core research team members.
  • We are working closely with other Australian Government investment programs and like-minded organisations including the AIC’s co-location with KSI in Jakarta. We see KSI and other programs playing an important role in knowledge translation as the program approaches its conclusion in 2022. KSI’s representation on the Research Advisory Panel, and peer review of our research, sets the foundations for this.
  • We formed a partnership with OpenLearning Ltd, an Australian Stock Exchange-listed education technology company, which will provide its platform and services for free to host our TAP modules entirely online. PAIR’s first industry partnership supports our COVID-19 pivot.
  • We have established the Research Advisory Panel (RAP) of experienced and influential people from central and local government levels, industry, research and community. They help us navigate the complex policy environment, provide critical input into turning PAIR’s knowledge into practical outcomes and identify opportunities to spin-off and scale-up.
  • We are on track to achieving gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) at all levels of the program, including in leadership, governance and programming. We actively cultivate a culture that encourages participation of people with disabilities. The team has extensive GESI experience. Our communications are inclusive and reflect diversity. Our research includes topics directly addressing GESI issues.
  • Our COVID-19 response has quickly changed the way we work, communicate and collaborate. We have developed processes, protocols, tools and equipment to work remotely. We have creatively adjusted our research model, adapting our focus to the impact of COVID-19. We have taken our savings on travel and re-invested it in a new Rapid Research initiative to explore the pandemic’s broader impact on health, connectivity and economic recovery. We have transitioned our workshops, summits and stakeholder engagement online. We have scaled our digital outreach activities, introducing webinars and podcasts that explore a post COVID-19 world.
    • All our current and subsequent research activities (Pilot Projects, Rapid Research and Strategic Integrated Projects) have been designed to respond to the Australian Government’s COVID-19 Response Plan Performance Framework’s stability and economic recovery outcomes.
  • We invested more resources, time and effort into communications and knowledge management systems. We have launched a bilingual PAIR website,  produced several videos promoting PAIR on YouTube, and launched a webinar and podcast series. We have created knowledge products: a series of backgrounders providing overviews of South Sulawesi. We have established a partnership with The Conversation Indonesia to translate and promote our research findings to a wider audience. We have also established a knowledge management system including cloud-based program management tools, email communications, storage drive and an intranet site to help researchers share information and resources.
  • We have leveraged our influential partner alumni network to navigate Indonesia’s policy environment, support the program design and access points of influence critical in PAIR’s inception phase. We continue to engage them in an advisory capacity through our governance and programming, forging a network of PAIR development champions in the process.

We have achieved these successes because we are continuously learning. The most important lesson of PAIR’s success so far has been the influential role universities can play in evidence-based policymaking in Indonesia.

Many decision makers within Indonesia’s government are also academic leaders. By involving these key stakeholders in the research pipeline from the outset, we ensure our research is driven by genuine demand.

Relationships are embedded into PAIR’s structure, which explicitly establishes a partnership between the Program Management and Research Teams. This is a departure from many research and international development programs, where the former is solely concerned with administration.

The partnership approach is crucial to ensuring PAIR researchers are aligned and focused, and that the research team shape and embrace the principles underpinning PAIR’s unique approach – interdisciplinary, demand-driven and place-based research.

All 11 partner universities have different systems. We effectively navigate these systems – a requirement for successful research collaboration – through our strong relationships with key senior representatives, many of whom are Senior Fellows in our program.

PAIR’s future is promising, but we face our share of challenges and risks as well as opportunities. Chief among these are navigating the complexities of Indonesia’s policy environment at central and provincial levels. We must forge strong policy, academic, business and community partnerships to deliver on our promises. As PAIR progresses, we have encountered changes in leadership among our university partners. We must proactively rebuild our connections with these newly appointed leaders, including at Universitas Indonesia, Institut Teknologi Bandung, Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember and the University of Western Australia.

We have also seen a shift in the Indonesian Government structure. After President Joko Widodo was appointed for a second term, PAIR’s partner and co-investor, RISTEKDIKTI, became two new ministries: RISTEK (the Ministry of Research and Technology), which houses BRIN (the National Research Agency), and DIKBUD (the Ministry of Education and Culture).

This led to changes in leadership within the bureaucracy. Professor Ainun Na’im, an AIC board member and the former Secretary General of RISTEKDIKTI, became the Secretary General of DIKBUD.

These changes affected the progress of the Memorandum of Agreement between the AIC and RISTEK, due to the interregnum while awaiting formation of the new ministries. Strong relationships, and regular communication with our Indonesian partners, enabled PAIR to withstand these changes.

The PAIR Theory of Change positions us well to navigate these challenges, and seize the new opportunities they create. While South Sulawesi might be our current focus, PAIR demonstrates a knowledge pathway-to-impact model that spans countries and institutions. We envision this model as a proof of concept that can be applied to any problem or location.

Download the full ‘PAIR Annual Report 2019-2020’ here

The COVID-19 effect: from adversity came opportunity

The PAIR framework is flexible and agile enough to respond to changing conditions as required. One major unforeseen event has been the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only have we pivoted our operations in the face of unforeseen events, but PAIR research projects are now directly aligned with the Australian Government’s Partnership for Recovery agenda, contributing to the knowledge base that will inform post-COVID-19 recovery in Indonesia.

We have adapted our pilot projects where relevant. The Young People’s Health and Wellbeing project now focuses entirely on the impact of COVID-19 on young people in South Sulawesi. A component of the Commodities project now involves documenting the effects of COVID-19 on the seaweed industry, and comparisons with other agricultural activities. The Young People and Development project explores the socio-economic and development aspirations of young people in a post-COVID-19 world. While the Transport, Logistics and Supply Chain project lays the foundation for an integrated and connected transport planning centred on the railway, an important first step in ensuring that connectivity is future-proofed against disasters and crisis.

The pandemic has fundamentally changed our approach. With all travel suspended, we have adapted our pilot projects to combine desktop and secondary data analysis, with analysis of primary data collected using digital technologies and platforms.

We have reinvested savings from travel to fund Small Rapid Research (SRR) Projects, focusing on three areas: COVID-19, people and health; COVID-19, people and connectivity; and COVID-19, people and economic recovery. Each project will be co-led by an Australian and Indonesian researcher from AIC partner universities. These projects will inform the policy community on opportunities to address the impact of COVID-19 on Indonesia.