Australia-Indonesia Muslim Leaders Exchange

12 April 2016

Al Siraat College was delighted to host today’s visit by the Indonesian delegation of the Australia-Indonesia Muslim Leaders Exchange Program (MEP). The delegation of five was warmly welcomed by the Senior Leadership Team of the College and attended a presentation before enjoying morning tea. The visit to Al Siraat College was the first official visit of the delegation as part of their two week Australian visit.

Principals Mr Houghton and Ms Rahat had the pleasure of taking the delegates on a school tour where they had the chance to interact with students from both Primary and Secondary School as well as meeting some of our teachers. The delegates exchanged some gifts with the students as a token of our Australian-Indonesian friendship. The College was also presented with a traditional batik table cloth to be exhibited in our Student Service Office along with cute kangaroos wearing a traditional Indonesian Batik shawl around the neck, hand-made by students of Ms Lis Safitri in West Java.

The MEP is an initiative of the Australia-Indonesia Institute within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It is managed by Australia Indonesia Connections, and is supported by the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne.

The MEP aims to foster people-to-people links between Indonesia and Australia and promotes greater understanding and recognition of religion and its role in each country. Each year since its inception in 2002, MEP has brought emerging Muslim leaders from both countries to the neighbouring nation for an intensive two week cultural and intellectual exchange. Visits include meetings with major religious organisations, universities, schools, community groups, government, and the media.

The Indonesian delegates visiting the College consisted of

  • Mr Muhammad Sabeth Abilawa: Director of Social Development at the Jakarta head office of Dompet Dhuafa, Indonesia’s largest Islamic charity, managing over 250 billion rupiah ($21 million US) in public donations annually. He is also Chief of Finance at Humanitarian Forum Indonesia, an interfaith organisation focused on the handling of national disasters and the Vice President of the Southeast Asian Humanitarian Committee, a regional Islamic humanitarian institution.

  • Mrs Ratih Arruum: Vice Dean of Psychology at YARSI University, a private Islamic Medical University in Jakarta. Ratih has worked with a range of different communities as a psychologist and councellor, including street children, special needs children, and people with severe mental illness such as schizophrenia or depression. She is also involved in empowerment training for women survivors of trafficking, and counsels vulnerable young people, sex workers and drug abusers in her work with the Commission for the Treatment of AIDS, Jakarta.

  • Mr Deni Lubis: A lecturer and co-founder of the islamic Economics Program at the Bogor Agricultural University in Bogor, West Java. He is also the Deputy Secretary of Muhammadiyah in membership of over 25 million. Deni is Secretary and youngest member of the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI) in Bogor and is the Coordinator for the National Zakat Agency (BAZNAS) and thus responsible for planning for the collection and distribution of zakat among Bogor’s one million residents.

  • Ms Lis Safitri: She teaches Islamic theology and exegesis at Darussalam Senior High School in Ciamis, West Java. The high school is associated with Al-Yabbani Darussalam Islamic Boarding School, where most students reside during the school year. She is a live-in-tutor at Al-Yabbani where she assists students wishing to memorise the Qur'an, and tutors subjects ranging from foreign languages and Qur'anic studies, through to graphic design and journalism.

  • Mr Muhammad Zahrul Anam: Member of the Tabligh (Preaching) Council of the Central Board of Muhammadiyah, Indonesia’s second largest Muslim organisation. He is responsible for the development and implementation of spiritual programs for members of Indonesia’s disabled communities. He is also a lecturer in International Relations at Muhammadiyah University in Yogyakarta.