Chocolate, sustainability and closer business ties between Australia and Indonesia

Demand from Australian consumers for sustainable produce has heightened opportunities for Indonesian businesses, a breakfast in Melbourne has heard.

The Katalis event was organised by Asialink Business and featured speakers from the Australian and Indonesian business communities. Katalis is a bilateral government development program with a focus on commercial opportunities.

Panellists delivered short presentations before answering questions from the audience.

Tissa Aunilla, the co-founder of Jakarta-based Pipiltin Cocoa, told the gathering how the business sourced cocoa beans from farmers’ cooperatives across Indonesia.

Ms Aunilla said whereas sustainability as an issue was still growing for Indonesian consumers, it was well-established in Australia.

“We see a lot of opportunity to come to Australia [with chocolate exports] because there is more awareness about sustainable products,” she told the gathering.

“It really is important to have sustainability, we see a lot of opportunity to come to Australia and share the story of beautiful Indonesia.”

Ms Aunilla said they were also working with more farmers who are women.

Tim Gilbert, the vice president international development at Melbourne Polytechnic, spoke to the session about education and micro credentials that would be available to a larger segment of society.

He said there was an opportunity to work with Indonesian education providers to ensure better jobs and work outcomes.

“We are working with an Indonesian provider, Traveloka.

“The microcredential model we are developing with support from Katalis is about microcredentials in digital literacy, coffee and so-forth.

“We signed an agreement with Traveloka where they market and sell these microcredentials online and [customers] will be referred back to the Melbourne Polytechnic learning platform to complete [their training].”

Katalis lead adviser for Cardno International Development, David Goodwins, said there were opportunities for sustainable tourism, bearing in mind Indonesia’s rich cultural and national heritage.

He noted the impact of the pandemic upon international tourism but this sector was recovering with the prospect of new areas of interest beyond Bali such as nearby Komodo Island.

Mr Goodwins said that under the terms of the economic agreement known as IA-CEPA, 100 percent Australian ownership of hotels was allowed which provides a chance to build closer ties in that industry.

audience looking in direction of speaker
The audience listens intently to the panel speakers. Image by David Sexton and AIC.

Sustainable tourism is an area of focus for the Australia-Indonesia Centre with its Partnership for Australia-Indonesia Research (PAIR) examining tourism options for the Makassar-Parepare railway.

Katalis Skills lead adviser Clarice Campbell talked of support for Australian providers of skills and microcredentials.

She said Australian educational institutions had entered the Indonesian market in the past but many left without establishing a longer term presence.

“There is a real need for workplace development in Indonesia but the number of people who are in Indonesia who are going on to further study there is actually low because there isn’t necessarily a culture of upskilling.

“We were fortunate to connect with [Indonesian] businesses and found a lot of opportunities for the TAFE institutes in Australia and this is something that can be sustainable,” she said.

“Because once Katalis assists some of these institutions to develop these microcredentials, we also want these TAFEs to have ongoing connections with these [Indonesian] companies.”

Katalis was designed to build on the benefits of IA-CEPA and according to director Paul Bartlett the program is about half way through the first tranche of funding.

He noted progress in a number of areas including recognition of each nation’s engineering credentials.

Mr Bartlett talked of “exceptional demand” for knowledge, skills and training in Indonesia and that Katalis was helping businesses implement their ideas, noting the investment in hospitals by Aspen Medical.

A lively Q&A followed the presentations with questions coming from a variety of sources including education providers and a gamelan musician who asked about the challenge of struggling with Australian perceptions of Indonesia.

The breakfast session was one of a number of similar events being held in Australian cities by Asialink.

Feature image by Asialink.

Picture of David Sexton

Digital Communications Coordinator, the Australia-Indonesia Centre