In August 2012 Fritz Sirega, from Indonesia, joined the ALRC as an intern. Fritz is a recipient of one of AusAID’s Australian Leadership Awards Scholarships.These scholarships are given to emerging leaders from developing countries who show great promise for giving their country a better future. As part of the scholarship, AusAID offers the scholars the opportunity to do a short-term unpaid internship with a reputable Australian organisation, to give them exposure to Australian leadership styles in the workplace and develop their international networks.
Sara Peel (SP): Hello. I’m Sara Peel, Senior Legal Officer at the Australian Law Reform Commission. Today I’m very pleased to be joined by intern, Fritz Siregar. Fritz’s last day is today at the ALRC, after 4 months working here at the Commission with us. We’ll be talking a little bit about Fritz’ experiences as an intern at the ALRC, but Fritz has a really interesting story and I’m keen to hear more about it, Fritz. Let’s start with your studies. Where did you do your undergraduate law degree?
Fritz Siregar (FS): My undergraduate degree I studied at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta.
SP: And you’re doing some further studies at the moment, is that right?
FS: Yes. Currently I am a PhD student at the University of New South Wales.
SP: So how long have you been doing that for?
FS: I think it’s already one year, that I work on the Paper.
SP: You’ve also had a bit of legal experience working as well, haven’t you? This isn’t your first work experience by any means. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
FS: Well, for the past 7 years that I worked in legal reform in Indonesia, I worked as Associate to the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court for 5 years, and afterwards I worked for the National Legal Reform Program. It’s an IMF program with legal reform. And I work with the Palace, with the President Official Consul with regard to legal reform and how to do better legal reform in Indonesia.
SP: That’s quite a varied legal history. So you mentioned that you were working in law reform in Indonesia. That was at Indonesia’s National Law Reform Program – is that correct?
FS: Yes, correct.
SP: Tell me a little bit about that. How does it compare to the Australian Law Reform Commission in terms of your experiences?
FS: For National Legal Reform, we are focussed on corporate law and so we start from the law particularly with regard to corporate law that needs to be changed, because we are under Dutch colonialism for 350 years and we adopted many Dutch laws and Dutch law still exists. And now we try to modernise or (work out) how that law could be implemented with these kinds of things, so we don’t have to refer to the Dutch law anymore. We do some process, we discuss, in regard to the court petitions and also the original intent of the law, whether the original intent is still applicable for today, or if the government has to do it. It’s almost similar like what we do here.
SP: So, ok. You’re on a scholarship here …
SP: Tell us a little bit about the scholarship … and this internship is actually part of that scholarship isn’t it? So tell us a little bit about that.
FS: Australia is quite generous in regards to the scholarships, particularly for Indonesia and to the Asia Pacific countries. My scholarship is what they call an Australian Leadership Award. In the past Australia had two types of scholarship: Australian Development Scholarship and also the Australian Leadership Award. The Australian Leadership Award is quite selective, and I say that is because they give more benefit for the scholars. Instead of the leadership training, you have the leadership conference. But also they preferred us to work in the Australian office in order to know how the legal system works in Australia. And for me I chose the Australian Law Reform Commission where I spend my time as an intern.
SP: What made you choose the Australian Law Reform Commission out of all the places you could have done an internship.
FS: I think because of the nature of myself that I want to do the legal reform, and once I worked in legal reform I know it’s a big project, it’s not only one body doing it, but everybody doing it, … and how do legal reformers do it in Australia? Because also I learned that Australian legal reform is like … academic … and also it is a small thing. And sometime I wonder how this small thing is able to do many things and how it has the voice, because, from my point of view, Australian government is fairly crowded with so many agencies at the state level or in the federal level – and the Australian Law Reform Commission, in the small office, they have voice in the whole and is acknowledged as one of the important bodies in Australia. So I think I am quite lucky that the Australian Law Reform Commission accepted me as an intern.
SP: I think we’re lucky to have you, Fritz! Now, you’ve been working on the Age Barriers to Work inquiry. Can you tell me what your favourite part of that inquiry has been, and maybe what the most challenging part has been?
FS: I think one of the favourite parts is the morning tea one day [laughs] and the most challenging part, particularly because the Age Barriers is, something that I’m not expecting, it’s fairly quite financial issues, like working with the super, for me it is quite new …
SP: … as in superannuation – one of the areas in the Age Barriers to Work inquiry.
FS: Yes, yes. For the employment law I can catch up with the issue, with the ages and how they work. But when they talk about is superannuation, somehow I have not only to double, I have to triple my effort to understand how it works … and how the income payment/super payments … Those kinds of things, for me it is quite new. So I think it is quite challenging for me to understand how the system it works, particularly when I read more, I more understand because it’s too many things when you’ve got the income support payment and super.
SP: Well it might have been challenging but you’ve done a great job Fritz, and I’ve really enjoyed working with you over the last four months. For anybody else interested in Australian Law Reform Commission internship program, including interviews with other interns, please check it out on our website at www.alrc.gov.au.