POST C – An Interview with Andi Dwipaspya on cultural integration in Australia

Andi Dwipasapya, born in Indonesia but now currently residing in Sydney, is an active member of the Indonesian Welfare Association. The purpose of IWA, and its importance to Andi, is its aim to provide services and support for not only newly arriving Indonesians, but broader members of the Indonesian community in Sydney’s metropolitan area. Emphasising the importance of IWA’s motto ‘from the community for the community’, Andi relates the significance of providing such support as a necessary tool for Indonesian cultural integration and preservation in the Sydney region.

Having moved from Indonesia 15 years ago, Andi understands the importance of maintaining traditional culture and practices for those new to the community. Recognising Australia as a proudly multicultural country, Andi believes it is important for such organisations such as IWA to keep a healthy relationship between “new Australians” and those born here. She does, however, reveal the benefits of directly working with newly arrived Indonesian’s due to her own cultural heritage. As Bird and Osland (2005) reveal, “when interactions involve people from other cultures, disagreements about how to work together are likely to arise” with Andi similarly explaining how the formation and management of IWA by local Indonesians has allowed an easier transition for those new to the community.

When asked about the programs, activities and events the IWA creates to help smothen the transition for newly arrived Indonesians, Andi asserts that although its primary focus is to help with integration, the IWA is also an important organisation for maintaining Indonesian culture in Australia. She then continues to explain that various activities such as information sessions, cooking and traditional singing classes are run by the IWA to combat feelings of disparity and disconnect that can arise from such a cultural change.

Preparing Traditional Food - IWA's 'Celebrating Diversity' Event, April 21st 2015, https://www.facebook.com/275957379102277/photos/pb.275957379102277.-2207520000.1430475674./936919019672773/?type=3&theater
Preparing Traditional Food – IWA’s ‘Celebrating Diversity’ Event, April 21st 2015, https://www.facebook.com/275957379102277/photos/pb.275957379102277.-2207520000.1430475674./936919019672773/?type=3&theater

Andi acknowledges that the change in culture from Indonesia to Australia is quite significant. Drawing from her personal experiences, the primary struggle for most Indonesians new to Australia is the language barrier. Secondly, Andi reveals that the religious change, particularly that for practicing Muslims has a significant impact on newly arriving Indonesians, and still so for those within the Australian – Indonesian Community. In discussing these major changes, specifically in regards to Religion, Andi introduces the most significant alteration, religiously, is the practice of Ramadan. Andi reveals how Ramadan in Indonesia is all encompassing as the predominant faith of the country. Ramadan in Indonesia, she explains, is something that engages the entire community, with loud drums in the morning and at dusk everyday. She does lament the sense of unity and community during Ramadan that is consequently lost in Australia, as most Muslims practice “silently”. It is a topic of discussion that the IWA is constantly engaged with as a pivotal part of cultural integration and understanding in Australia.

­Having concluded this interview, I am eager to see how, after discussing the change Indonesians feel when moving to Australia, of the effect our trip to Indonesia will have upon me. I am anticipating a much greater sensitivity to those who have moved to Australia, leaving a strong sense of culture and community in their homeland despite the efforts of such organisations as IWA.

Bird, A and Osland, J.S. December 2005, ‘Making Sense of Intercultural Collaboration’ International Studies of Management and Organization, viewed on 28th April 2015, https://www.lib.uts.edu.au/drr/18330

Dwipasadya, A (2015), Interviewed by Halloran, J, 28th April

IWA, 2011 ‘Indonesian Welfare Association’, viewed on 28th April 2015, http://www.indonesianwelfare.org.au/

Tapsell, R, 5th September 2015 ‘Same Old Stereotypes of Indonesia – and our Politicians Aren’t Helping’ The Conversation, viewed 28th April 2015, http://theconversation.com/same-old-stereotypes-of-indonesia-and-our-politicians-arent-helping-17159

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