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Regional Autonomy and Social Welfare in Post-Suharto Indonesia: A Case Study of Decentralisation in Kabupaten Cirebon, West Java

Craig, Delys (2013) Regional Autonomy and Social Welfare in Post-Suharto Indonesia: A Case Study of Decentralisation in Kabupaten Cirebon, West Java. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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In Indonesia, the concept of the decentralisation of government administration has been a feature of government for most of the twentieth century. Since the fall of Suharto’s New Order regime, decentralisation has become one of the hallmarks of reform (reformasi). This thesis endeavours:

• To examine the impact on regional government of the Regional Autonomy Laws of 1999 and 2004;
• To assess the implications of these changes in law and policy for the democratic process and community participation; and
• To investigate whether the implementation of Regional Autonomy has resulted in better development outcomes, particularly in the fields of education and health.

Fieldwork was undertaken in Kabupaten Cirebon, West Java. A data base of ten villages was established as the basis of this case study of the impacts of regional autonomy. Special attention is given to the health and education sectors.

The district level (kabupaten) administration in Cirebon became responsible for the implementation of the decentralised health system from 2002. Increasing amounts of funding were invested in healthcare infrastructure, and the numbers of healthcare personnel expanded significantly. Conversely, many health indicators including infant and maternal mortality, life expectancy and malnutrition did not show significant improvement by 2009. The numbers of the volunteer workforce in the health sector, the kaders in the posyandu, whose participation in primary health care is so important, also declined.

The decentralisation of the education sector produced more positive results. The percentage of people who never went to school and those who did not finish primary school decreased, while the percentage of those who graduated from primary school and secondary school, and those who continued in tertiary education increased significantly.

The 1999 decentralisation legislation emphasised the principles of democracy, equitable distribution and public participation in development. Despite significant steps in the democratisation and decentralisation process, this study finds that much of the promise of the reform program has yet to be realised.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Supervisor(s): Warren, Carol
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