Indonesia is the fourth largest country in the world with approximately 250 million people of whom 82.5 million are children. With 34 provinces, around 500 districts and municipalities, and 70 000 villages, Indonesia transitioned peacefully into democratic decentralization in 1999 and continues to shape quality governance across the archipelago nation. Poverty, however, remains one of the greatest challenges to the country. Around 11% of the population still live on and below the national poverty rate while nearly half the population live on less than two dollars a day – individuals highly at risk to fall into poverty. The latest national Social Protection Survey captured 23.4 million children living in the poorest two quintiles’ households. These children and their families are facing difficulties in meeting basic needs such as nutrition, health, education and accessing social services.
Description of the Center on Child Protection at the University of Indonesia
Based on a commitment to address inequality and vulnerability affecting children and families, the University of Indonesia established the Center on Child Protection (PUSKAPA) in December 2009, in partnership with the Indonesian Planning Ministry (BAPPENAS) and Columbia University and supported by development partners in the area of child protection such as UNICEF and Save the Children. The purpose of the Center is to inform policy and practices that strengthen and protect the lives of children in Indonesia and beyond in the context of changing demography and decentralization. It also aims to give research on child protection and well-being discussion scientific rigor and to position these topics in the academic landscape.
The Center pursues its goals through three inter-related sets of approaches:
- Research and Publication to support evidence-based programming and policy development;
- Policy Dialogue building on the Center’s field experiences gained from Piloting Interventions on the ground; and
- Capacity Building to train practitioners in improving the well-being of children and to prepare future generations of individuals to promote sustainable solutions to complex problems affecting children, families, and communities.
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Legal Identity Initiative In Indonesia, approximately 40 million Indonesian children lack legal identity documents, such as birth certificates and roughly half of marriages are not registered, with the lack of these documents disproportionately affecting impoverished populations living in remote areas. Thus, in partnership with the Australian government through Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Justice (AIPJ), PUSKAPA has made increasing access to legal identity ownership a research and program priority. The multi-year Legal Identity Project starts with a pan-national serial cross-sectional study designed to explore the barriers to legal identity ownership, the impact of legal identity to education, health and social services outcomes, evaluate government-level interventions, and increase legal identity ownership among vulnerable women and children across Indonesia.
Situating Child Protection and Wellbeing in Social Protection System PUSKAPA promotes an integrated social protection system that aims to provide assistance to vulnerable families and communities. This assistance ideally should enable them to keep children in their families and to enable families to assume their responsibilities for the protection and wellbeing of children. Such system will prevent children from being sent to institutions due to poverty. Moreover, the system should anticipate that some children are living in exceptionally difficult conditions within their own families, and therefore are entitled to special protection. One of the preliminary efforts currently ongoing is PUSKAPA’s vulnerability study done together with UNICEF and supported by the Australian government. The study used qualitative and quantitative methods to examine the experiences of children in family care and outside of family care across three Indonesian provinces. The study had multiple components, including a desk review of children living with families, families and children on the move, street children, and trafficked children. Study results will be used to provide recommendations to improve the child welfare and social protection system, including strengthening supports for families and improving conditions for children living outside of family care.
Juvenile Justice Initiative Given high levels of pre-trial detentions among juveniles, with reports of mistreatment and limited access to legal and social services, PUSKAPA is conducting a study on pre-trial detention, with financial support from Open Society Justice Institute (OSJI) and its national partner TIFA Foundation. This mixed-methods study seeks to better understand the determinants of pre-trial detention, the conditions and experiences of detained youth, access to social and legal service prior to and during detainment. The ultimate aim is to provide recommendations to reduce presentence detentions, and improve the conditions and supports for youth facing pre-trial detentions. The adoption of the new juvenile justice law in 2012 brings new opportunity for this study to contribute to the implementation policies, especially around diversion, provision of quality legal aid for children, and effective reintegration mechanisms. Discussions have been initiated with TIFA and OSJI to follow up the recommendations with pilot interventions. PUSKAPA also networks with AIPJ’s Legal Aid Project and The Asia Foundation’s Prison Reform Project to ensure streamlined advocacy efforts and potentially criminal justice models to be developed together.
Legal identity policy and programming To date, findings from the Legal Identity Initiative have made key contributions to the development of the Government of Indonesia’s National Plan to improve legal identity across Indonesia. Baseline findings from the project have been used to inform Indonesia’s national development plan, and the post-MDG agenda, as proposed by the high-level panel. This flagship initiative has both informed and supported government initiatives to expand access to legal identity documents, including through removal of administrative fees, strengthening of transparent, affordable and accountable legal identity services, the expansion of mobile and integrated services to better reach the most remote and vulnerable population as well as more integrated services to streamline and simplify procedures. This initiative will increasingly inform a more reliable and publicly accessible data on legal identity services and demographic information.
Access to justice PUSKAPA’s advocacy has also led to tremendous strides in improving justice to children: inclusion of access to justice for children priorities in the updated 2013 National Strategy on Access to Justice and the 2015-2019 national mid-term development plan, and PUSKAPA’s work with AIPJ and USAID’s Change for Justice program to improve people’s access to court through the development of the Supreme Court’s Directives in 2010 which had recently being revised into Supreme Court Regulation 2014. This Court policy guarantees General and Religious court services for the poor through court fee waiver mechanisms, implementation of mobile courts to remote areas, and provision of legal advise posts inside the Court buildings. Since 2010, that Court policy had lead to an increase of the state budget for those Court services and quadrupled the number of poor accessing free-of-charge Court services with most of them accessing legalization of marriage that enables parents to register of their children’s birth certificate.
Promoting evidence-based child-related policy decisions PUSKAPA’s research had been able to inform the development policy decisions. Child protection and wellbeing elements are being included in the national poverty alleviation and social protection strategy (2015-2025).