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In 2021, the Australian Human Rights Institute, Diplomacy Training Program and Institute for Global Development (UNSW) launched a new short course titled ‘Human Rights Leadership to Influence Policy’ as part of the Australia Awards in Indonesia program, funded by the Australian Government. 

The course built on the long histories of the Diplomacy Training Program and the Australian Human Rights Institute’s engagement with human rights movements and institutions in Indonesia, Australia and globally. 

The first-of-its-kind course assisted 25 experienced Indonesian human rights advocates – from national Human Rights Commissions to NGOs – in their work to promote and defend human rights in Indonesia. It facilitated the exchange of experience and expertise between the participants in Indonesia and human rights leaders and organisations in Australia. Through building Indonesian-Australian relationships and collaborations on human rights, the course aimed to strengthen the ability of individuals and organisations to effectively influence policy and practice. 

The inaugural session of the program was delivered on Monday, 22 September 2021 with an opening keynote address by the Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG. The former Australian High Court Justice reflected upon the gradual nature of human rights change, recognising that human rights advocacy was often limited by societal and historical contexts. He shared his belief that even where such challenges exist, advocates could still have courage, work strategically, and endeavour to find spaces and allies to advance human rights.