Civil Society and Refugee Care in Indonesia: Creating Protection Space? (1/2)

Mr Max Walden1, Dr Antje Missbach2, Professor Susan Kneebone1, Dr Heru Susetyo3, Ms Atin Prabandari5, Dr  Daniel Ghezelbash4, Mr Asher Hirsch2

1University Of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, 2Monash University, Clayton, Australia, 3University of Indonesia, Depok, Indonesia, 4Macquarie University, Macquarie, Australia, 5University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Chair: Max Walden


This panel will examine the role of civil society in refugee protection in Indonesia to determine its capacity to provide ‘protection space’ for asylum seekers. Protection space is defined by UNHCR as the extent to which a conducive environment exists for refugee rights to be respected and their needs met. Until recently the Indonesian state had delegated its protection role to UNHCR, IOM and their partner organisations. More recently, through the creation of Presidential Regulation 125 of 2016 protection obligations have been handed to local government (the so-called ‘local turn’), which struggles to satisfy the needs of refugees. This local turn has spurred the rise of new civil society organisations (CSOs) which support refugees, such as refugee self-help groups, Muslim and Buddhist charities as well as more rights oriented lobbying groups.  Additionally, well-established CSOs continue to operate in a space which is sometimes described as competing with that of UNHCR. In this panel we examine the notion and understanding of protection and protection space amongst CSOs in Indonesia.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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