Between November 27 and December 10, 2016, ACICIS ran its inaugural Public Health Study Tour (PHST), with 23 students from 12 Australian universities. Of the 23 students undertaking the study tour in Indonesia, nineteen students were supported by New Colombo Plan Mobility Grants. Accompanied by the PHST Tour Leader, Professor Michael Dibley of The University of Sydney, ACICIS Resident Director, Elena Williams, and other ACICIS support staff, the students spent two weeks in Indonesia learning about the urban and rural public health issues currently facing Australia’s near northern neighbour.

All students arrived in Jakarta and, after orientation sessions on the Sunday and Monday, began with an overview of public health issues in Indonesia at the Indonesian Ministry of Health. On the following day, students attended a seminar on family health at BKKBN – The National Coordinating Family Planning Board, with speakers joining from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Students then headed to the Australian Embassy to hear from World Health Organisation (WHO) and DFAT Development representatives on bilateral health projects, and were later welcomed by Deputy Head of Mission, Dr Justin Lee, at a New Colombo Plan welcome reception that evening.

Over the next four days our students attended seminars and discussions at ACICIS’ newest host university, Universitas Indonesia (UI). Students had the chance to hear from UI speakers on communicable and non-communicable diseases, urban density and sanitation, HIV management and tobacco control in Indonesia. The group also visited Fatmawati Hospital, Pasar Minggu Puskesmas (Community Health Centre), and presented their findings in group presentations with local Indonesian students.

The second week of the tour saw students travel to Yogyakarta, for a week of activities hosted by ACICIS’ longest-standing Indonesian partner university, Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM). UGM speakers presented seminars on health concerns in rural areas, waste management, and community health practices. The students had the opportunity to see health practices in a rural village first hand in Gunung Kidul, to the south of Yogyakarta, where they visited a puskesmas, posyandu (health services centre), and a small school to run ‘healthy habits’ workshops in tooth brushing and hand washing.

Towards the end of the program, students had the change to explore Java’s coast at Ngandong Beach. They also had the opportunity to attend a networking night with local NGOs in Yogyakarta.  The last of day of the tour saw students give their final presentations on rural health issues in Indonesia at Gadjah Mada, attend a closing ceremony and visit a few cultural sites surrounding Yogyakarta, including Prambanan Temple.

ACICIS would like to thank our first cohort of Public Health Study Tour students who made this pilot such a success. We hope you enjoyed the tour and we look forward to seeing you all back in Indonesia again soon!