Ashling Charles is a New Colombo Plan mobility grant recipient from The University of Western Australia. Ashling undertook the Public Health Study Tour, hosted by Universitas Indonesia in July 2018.
Q: Why did you decide to undertake ACICIS’ Public Health Study Tour?
My second major is Public Health and it was very interesting for me to see the Indonesian health system. It gave me the opportunity to view the workforce not from the textbook but from the hands-on experience the tour gives. Travelling and studying allows you to get a worldly view and to understand similar health issues with different cultural backgrounds. It was an experience that seemed too good to miss.
Q: What do you find to be the most challenging about the PHST?
The tour was quite intensive, with every day packed with seminars and field visits. Although it was challenging and exhausting at times, I would not change it as it allowed me to see and do the most I could with the time given.
Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? If so, how did this contribute to your experience in Indonesia?
Yes, I did receive the New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant. It made this whole experience possible as it reduced the funds it would’ve costed me to get there.
Q: What public health issues in Indonesia have you become more interested in/aware of as a result of this tour?
I found it very interesting the way public health is majorly influenced by other factors, such as religion and the political system.
Q: What was your favourite field trip?
Visiting the Posyandu. It was a side of the health system in Indonesia that I feel Australia could learn from. It had a such a strong sense of community between the mothers, their children, and the volunteers. In Australia where health is seen as a personal or medical procedure, it was amazing to see the community getting involved in maternal and child health as a communal event, that in turn I feel encouraged mothers to check the health of their children and creates a good support system for mothers raising their children.
Q: How do you think the Public Health Study Tour will influence your future career or studies?
It has given me a worldly experience that has developed so many skills in communication and workforce experience that will be very beneficial to my career and studies; especially if I pursue public health in my future studies.
Q: What did you most enjoy about the seminar series?
In the second week, the family planning seminar was the most interesting. The speakers were very passionate in their respective field. It was a very personal and controversial topic that was depicted and handled with a lot of passion – it was confronting but genuine. I gained a lot of information from this and was greatly informed in how great an issue this was in Indonesia.
Q: What was your favourite aspect about visiting Indonesia?
I can’t pick one aspect – the whole tour and experience of being in another country, with new people, coupled with the learning environment was an amazing experience for me.