In August, staff of the National Ombudsman’s office visited Banjarmasin, the capital of South Kalimantan, Indonesia, where they gave a workshop in mediation techniques. It was attended by all 34 heads of the regional offices of the National Ombudsman of Indonesia, who meet once a year for training in various aspects of complaint arbitration and to discuss strategic matters in connection with the development of the Ombudsman organization.
Participants were divided into two groups to ensure direct contact with the workshop leaders. The focus was on the identification of interests and the various communication techniques which can be used during the mediation process. Theory was combined with role-playing exercises to show the participants that there is more to a mediation interview than merely establishing the facts. The Dutch trainers faced the challenge of presenting material which is so thoroughly ingrained in their own approach to people of a different culture. They were reminded that doing so effectively requires planning, forethought and the ability to see things from a different perspective.
The National Ombudsman’s team also visited the University of Banjarmasin and were present at the reopening of the local ombudsman’s office following major renovations. One member was invited to join a counterpart from the Indonesian Ombudsman’s office in planting a tree to mark the occasion.
The visit marked the culmination of a project of cooperation between the Dutch and Indonesian National Ombudsmen which had been ongoing since early 2013. The final internships of the project began in November 2015.