by Lachlan Haycock
The second and final panel of the conference examined the role of youth action in the context of social activism. Our panelists discussed the ups and downs of youth movements, from the Australian far-right to Indonesian citizen journalism and election volunteerism. Our all-female panel promoted women’s rights, LGBTIQ+ issues and the importance of health education.
The panel featured the expertise of Dr Dina Afrianty, a research fellow at La Trobe University, and Dewi Layla Sari, a journalist and the co-founder of the Net Citizen Journalist Community. The discussion was moderated by Professor Pamela Nilan, a sociologist and researcher at University of Newcastle.
Professor Nilan prefaced the discussion with a rundown of Indonesian youth statistics, contextualising youth as increasingly belonging to the middle class and as a post-1998 millennial generation without the ingrained social memory of life in pre-democracy Indonesia.
According to Nilan, youth are increasingly involved in socio-political issues such as feminism, LGBTIQ+ rights and the environment, in contrast to the common perception of youth as careless and inactive. Her research has also shown a different side to youth activism in Australia, revealing the extent of support for far-right movements that are representing predominantly white and disenfranchised young men.
Dewi Layla Sari, an experienced journalist, brought an Indonesian lens to the panel discussion with the notion of citizen journalism, whereby members of the community participate in the news-making process and have homemade news items broadcast on television and online. Many young citizen journalists have contributed constructively to fast-response coverage of incidents, such as the 2015 Paris attacks.
As a social researcher in the field of women’s rights, including the realm of sexual and domestic violence, Dr Dina Afrianty explained the importance of education when engaging with members of local communities – particularly young people – with limited knowledge of laws surrounding rights of women and family. Enhancing awareness about the rights of those with disabilities and the rights of women and children in the family are areas of particular interest for her research in areas such as Lombok, South Sulawesi and Aceh.
As a contrast to the earlier ‘top-down’ business and politics panel, the conference’s youth activism discussion highlighted the effective grassroots efforts of youth to effect social change and raise awareness of the issues most important to young people in the bilateral relationship.