Indonesian President Joko Widodo may have had to postpone his first official state visit to Australia but, behind the scenes, the bi-lateral relationship continues to grow apace.Australian Trade Minister Steve Ciobo held talks with his Indonesian counterpart, Enggartiasto Lukita, in Sydney for the latest round of free trade agreement negotiations between the two countries.
"Both Australia and Indonesia remain very committed to taking this relationship from strength to strength," Mr Ciobo said.
The Minister said they have made solid progress on the Australia Indonesia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA), which he says is on track to conclude by the end of 2017.
For a section of Australia's business community these are critical times. According to the head of the Australia-Indonesia Business Council (AIBC), it is a chance to move beyond the cultural differences that have been impeding opportunities.
"There are differences in the culture, there are differences in the way our two countries look at each other, look at the world," AIBC President Debnath Guharoy said.
"So I think we need to understand that in any conversation that we struggle with, we need to be strong and generous at the same time.
"We've got to be accommodating, more than we have."
The economic relationship between Australia and Indonesia has room to grow.
In 2015, the two-way trade between the two countries was valued at around $15 billion, compared to Australia and New Zealand at $23 billion.
The revived trade deal is a way to overcome that and the Federal Government has said the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement is one of its trade priorities.
It is a document that tries to overcome some of the cultural barriers so that both nations can work together better.
Australian business culture undermines Indonesian trustAccording to Danny Burrows from the Asian trade and investment firm, Tradeworthy, Australians will need to make a large adjustment in thinking and usual business practice if they are going to make their mark.
"Australians need to deal better with the uncertainties in Indonesia … they need to learn to deal better with an uncertain environment," he said."Indonesian businesses work in that space all the time and have to become adept at managing it."
But Indonesia has also been asked to look at ways to reduce the risks on their side.
"I think we have a very important role to play in trying to get our neighbours to understand the discipline, the need for regulations that don't shift, are important for their own future," Mr Guharoy said.
Mr Burrows said Japanese, Korean and German firms go in knowing that they may not see a return on investment for five or more years, while Australian business works to quarterly reporting — a business culture that can undermine trust in Indonesia.
"Australia is seen as extracting as much as they can, as soon as they can, rather than allowing other models to operate which have more flexibility to deal with issues as they come up," Mr Burrows said.
Public opinion determines whether Indonesian is studiedFor some, a lack of cultural understanding is a symptom of a massive decline in the study of the Indonesian language.
A report by the Asia Education Foundation (AEF) in 2010 found the study of Indonesian language had been in steep decline, with 10,000 less students a year taking courses over a five-year period.
"It's not just about communicating; languages enable you to really get under the skin of a culture and understand a culture, and international engagement, whether it's for trade or through foreign affairs and so on, is a much more complex undertaking these days," AEF executive director Kathe Kirby said.
According to Ms Kirby, public perceptions of Indonesia play a huge role into whether it is studied as a language.
"Indonesian is one of the few languages that's really impacted upon by public opinion and by events and relationships between our two countries," she said.The relationship has seen some rocky times, with concerns rising between the two countries over asylum seekers, terrorism and the live cattle trade.
'You realise how similar we are'
Photo: Students at Heathmont College open up communication lines with their peers in Indonesia. (ABC News: Helen Brown)
In some states the situation is changing.
At Heathmont College in Melbourne's east, there has been a rise in the number of students taking Indonesian language classes since the introduction of the BRIDGE schools project, which directly connects Australian students with their peers in Indonesian schools.
The students talk to each other through video calls and the intercultural understanding on both sides is growing.
Heathmont College's Languages Co-ordinator Prema Devathas has seen Bahasa Indonesia enrolment numbers rise so much that she is expecting full classes next year across three grade levels.
"It's like a very personalised learning, like a borderless classroom," she said.
"You're learning with people there and there's a kind of connection and solidarity when kids share themselves with the others.
"They find out they're not the only ones who are teenagers. All teenagers around the world are quite similar."
For these students, making cultural adjustments with Australia's largest near Asian neighbour has become easier to do.
Helen Brown is a journalist with the ABC and has lived in Asia for many years.