Peter Tinley has warned against a decline in Asian language education, weeks after Murdoch University reversed a decision to axe its Indonesian major.
Mr Tinley, who is the state government’s Asian Engagement Minister, told an Australia Indonesia Business Council breakfast a fall in language training was one example of how WA could do more to engage in the region.
It comes after Murdoch University said last year it would suspend intake into its Indonesian language course, along with disciplines such as drama.
“There’s a lot of work to do.”
Murdoch was reportedly criticised by the Australia Indonesia Business Council, who wrote to the university arguing the course was crucial for Western Australia’s prosperity.
Murdoch provost Romy Lawson wrote to staff late in December to say the Indonesian major would be continued this year.
“Acknowledging that Indonesian is a subject with important strategic benefits nationally, we have decided to continue enrolment into the co-major and minor in 2021,” Professor Lawson said.
“Indonesian has had low student numbers for some time, so it is imperative we identify a sustainable model for its delivery for Murdoch students.
“As part of this, we will engage with key stakeholders to discuss how Indonesian might be positioned and supported to succeed – if it is to continue to be delivered by Murdoch.
“There will be a review of Indonesian towards the end of 2021.”
Indonesian Ambassador to Australia Kristiarto Legowo said he would be proposing facilitating English speaking teachers from Indonesia coming to Australia to teach the language.
Subsidised teaching material would also be considered, Business News understands.
Mr Legowo is understood to be meeting Murdoch University representatives tomorrow to advocate the long term future of the course.
More broadly, Mr Tinley said local media’s coverage of the pandemic was an example of how many in the state were still euro-centric.
“We know more about how the (COVID-19) disease is going in the UK or the US than in Jakarta,” he said.
“It’s quite frankly a shame.”
Mr Tinley said he had made spoken to newsroom directors to encourage them to take more interest in the affairs of neighbours.