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By Peter Douglas

A lifetime of dedication to strengthening the relationship between Australia and Indonesia has earned an Emerald local one of the nation’s top individual honours.

In the Queen’s Birthday 2018 honours list, academic Tim Lindsey has been awarded the honour of Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia.

Mr Lindsey, who is one of the country’s leading experts on Indonesian law, has built up an incredible body of work, which aims to promote understanding the between the two countries.

He is a Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor (since 2015) and a Malcolm Smith Professor of Asian Law (since 2007).

In addition to his role with the University of Melbourne, just some of his impressive work includes roles with the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, being a member of the Australia-Indonesia Institute (1997-2016) and a member of the Foreign Affairs Advisory Council (2005-2007).

Despite his long list of achievements, Mr Lindsey said it’s his ambition to strengthen the countries’ relationship that drives him.

“Indonesia seems almost invisible to Australia. We see ourselves as having allies in the West such as the US and UK, then a growing relationship with China as an emerging economic power,” Mr Lindsey said.

“But Indonesia is in a kind of blind spot to Australia … there aren’t two global neighbours which are so close geographically, yet so different.

“Indonesia could be a top five country economically by 2050 and top seven by 2030. It’s more than just a holiday destination to Bali. It’s such a diverse, complex region and has one of the biggest Muslim populations in the world.”

Mr Lindsey said his interests had stemmed from an early fascination with the country, after a student stay-over experience in Java during his high school years.

“At first there was a culture shock, but I came back speaking some Indonesian and was in love with the country,” Mr Lindsey said.

“Indonesia can be a highly infectious place. The more you discover about it, the more you realise how much there is to learn.”

Mr Lindsey grew up in Seville but moved to Emerald 12 years ago and adores the semi-rural nature of the area.

Despite his commute to the University of Melbourne, he said it’s well worth the drive because he lives in such a beautiful area.

Mr Lindsey said it was humbling to have been included in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday honours list, but said his main ambition was to continue to promote awareness of Australia-Indonesia relations, particularly in the coming years.

“There were more students in the 1970s learning the Indonesian language than now. And that’s a real shame. There is a real decline of the study of Asian languages in Australian classrooms,” he said.

Just some of Mr Lindsey’s achievements include:

*Foundation Director, Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society, Melbourne Law School (since 2012);

*Member, Asia Strategy Committee (2006-2009);

*Member, Advisory Board, Asia Institute (1999-2004);

*Convenor, Indonesia Forum (1998-1999).

*Founding Editor, Australian Journal of Asian Law (since 1997);

*Federation Fellow, Australian Research Council (2006-2011);

*Foundation Member, National Advisory Board, Australian Association of Islamic and Muslim Studies (since 2017);

*Member, Editorial Advisory Board, Southeast Asia Publications Series, Asian Studies Association of Australia, current;

*Honorary Secretary, Indonesian Arts Society, 1995-2000;

*Member, National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Program (NALSSP);

*Recipient, Carrick Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning, Carrick Institute for Learning, and Teaching in Higher Education (2006).

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