Indonesia is close to law graduate’s heart

Chloe Widmaier and husband standing behind signage of their respective law firms.

Chloe Widmaier and husband, Derryl, outside their respective law firms: Deloitte and ashurst.

Chloe Widmaier and husband, Derryl, outside their respective law firms: Deloitte and ashurst.

Chloe Widmaier is in her first week at law firm Ashurst, and studying at night to finish this semester’s work.

She’ll soon graduate with a Bachelor of Laws with a Diploma of Languages in Chinese.

UQ alumnus Chloe Widmaier in Jakarta.

UQ alumnus Chloe Widmaier in Jakarta.

In her third year of studying Law, Chloe volunteered at the UQ Pro Bono Centre. She helped refugees on Saturdays at a free clinic run by the Uniting Church to understand the process of applying for asylum.

She also interned at law firm Slater and Gordon, working in the military compensation division, and assisted on a submission to the QLD Law Reform Commission to expunge historical gay sex law convictions.

Chloe and other up-and-coming lawyers helped clear the names of men who, in the 1940s and 50s, were charged under this law.

Why the New Colombo Plan?

Chloe and husband 'thumbs up' with Indonesian Navy at Southbank.

UQ alumnus Chloe Widmaier with the Indonesian Navy at Southbank.

UQ alumnus Chloe Widmaier with the Indonesian Navy at Southbank.

What led to you signing up for the New Colombo Plan Mobility Program in Indonesia?

My husband’s Indonesian, but my interest extended beyond that. I wanted to research anti-corruption legislation.

TC Beirne School of Law Professor Simon Bronitt encouraged me and suggested I participate in a course he was running which involved spending two weeks meeting with organisations such as the KPK Corruption Eradication Commission, talking with them about their experience of corruption in Indonesia.

I knew about the New Colombo Plan because, in 2016, I went to China on an exchange semester at Fudan University. You can’t receive two NCP grants, so my Indonesian experience was allowed under one of the Program’s projects, but supported financially by UQ Global Strategy and Partnerships Seed Funding Scheme.

neon lite cars driving down a street in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Bling bling car, Alun-alun Kidul, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Bling bling car, Alun-alun Kidul, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

What came out of your time in Indonesia?

Before I went to Indonesia I worked with my mentor Professor Bronitt on a submission to the Australian Senate Standing Committee on Economics about facilitation payments. This is when industry or government representatives are allowed to give a bribe to make things happen. Right now, paying a bribe is ‘under the table’ and not legal.

However, you need to pay these “fines” to get things done. If you were allowed to give a ‘facilitation payment’ or formal bribe to a person then you could control the amounts and where these ‘facilitation payments’ go. This work experience motivated my interest in anti-corruption and compliance, which is why I applied for the NCP grant.

What was the hardest part of your time in Indonesia?

I had a hard time getting information about corruption. Even with agencies such as the Corruption Eradication Commission making a real difference in Indonesia, there is very little discussion on corruption on an academic or legal level. As a result, finding information on corruption in Indonesia is difficult; this meant we could not really prepare before we went on the trip – we were essentially flying blind as we went in – but it was what also made the trip so great. By talking with academics and members of the Corruption Eradication Commission, we were able to truly learn about the anti-corruption efforts in Indonesia.

As part of the trip with UQ, I had the opportunity to travel to Yogyakarta and visit the Borobudur temple – a massive Buddhist temple constructed in the 9th century. We participated in a sunrise climb, which involved waking up at three a.m. so we could get to the temple grounds and to the top of the temple before the sun rose. While the wake up time and the hike up to the top were difficult, the reward was fantastic! You could see for miles once you reached the top, and the view as the sun crested over the horizon was breathtaking. It was an image that I will never forget.

Borobudur temple – a massive Buddhist temple constructed in the 9th century.

The long walk to Borobudur temple

The long walk to Borobudur temple

Photo by indra dewa Borobudur Temple - dusk

Borobudur Temple at dawn

Borobudur Temple at dawn

What achievements at UQ are you most proud of?

I’m proud of my time in China, studying the language to a point of proficiency. My ability to hold a conversation in Chinese, and my experience in Indonesia on anti-corruption definitely helped me land my first big job with ashurst.

Chloe Widmaier and husband standing in balcony with Mosque in background.

Chloe Widmaier and husband in Istiqlal Mosque/Independence Mosque.

Chloe Widmaier and husband in Istiqlal Mosque/Independence Mosque.

Find out more about the New Colombo Plan Mobility Program.