Georgia Brown is a recipient from The University of Western Australia. Georgia undertook the Virtual Public Health Study Tour in November 2021.
Q: Why did you decide to undertake this virtual program?
The ACICIS Virtual Public Health Study Tour was recommended to me by my course coordinator at the University of Western Australia. After researching the program and learning what it entailed, it resonated with my long-term career goals and offered me an amazing opportunity to become immersed in a foreign culture as well as the health issues which the world faces. Overall, this program presented a chance to deepen my knowledge surrounding public health issues which would enhance my ability to aid the world’s population as a medical professional in the future.
Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan (NCP) Mobility grant? Why do you think the NCP is an important initiative? If yes, why?
Yes, I was recipient of a New Colombo Plan (NCP) Mobility Grant. I believe that the NCP initiative is vital in supporting the growth of Australian knowledge and understanding of the Indo-Specific and its role in global health issues. Without the NCP Mobility Grant I would not have been able to participate in the Virtual Public Health Study Tour, but with it, I have developed a wealth of knowledge involving the cultural, political, social, and medical aspects of Indonesia. This knowledge will be an asset in my future endeavors and will be for anyone who participates in this program. The NCP eliminates the barriers which young Australians face in accessing programs and learning opportunities for the betterment of not only their personal education, but the community in which they will function.
Q: What did you find to be the most rewarding part of this virtual program?
Every aspect of the tour was extremely rewarding, it’s hard to rank components as more or less. One of the most rewarding parts of the virtual program would have been the opportunity to make relationships with people of different cultures and backgrounds. My perspectives on and perceptions of the world around me and the people I meet has evolved, resulting in a more open and informed mindset.
Q: What did you find to be the most challenging about your experience on the Virtual PHST?
The tour is an extremely intensive experience. The long hours, high content level, and the overall nature of the program presented a challenge in remaining focused and absorbing all that the program was offering, but through the implementation of good study practices, these challenges were lessened. Overall, despite the challenges, the rewards gained from the virtual tour far outweighed the hardships faced throughout the two weeks.
Q: What public health issues in Indonesia have you become more interested in/aware of as a result of this virtual tour?
My personal interest in female sexual and reproductive health highlighted the topic of ‘Sexual Reproductive Health in Indonesia’ as a favourite presentation and discussion of the Public Health Study Tour. Learning of the place of abortion in Indonesia, gender-based violence issues, population and development, and the state of sexual reproductive health during the pandemic increased my awareness of the serious gender inequality and the aid necessary for Indonesian women. Not only did it highlight the difference in medical services available to women, but also the major influence of societal beliefs and gender norms on women’s access to medical services regarding sexual and reproductive health. My already present interest in female sexual and reproductive health has only been broadened, developing my interest for extending women’s access to healthcare, as well as ensuring their rights and safety.
Another concept learned which stood out to me and I think will be an important issue in the futures of both Indonesia and Australia, is the epidemiological shift from communicable diseases such as Malaria and Dengue Fever, to non-communicable diseases such as Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, and Cancer. The changes within the epidemiological landscape within Indonesian was a factor that I was not aware of, but now, with my awareness increased, I believe that it will be an ongoing public health issue for Indonesia, with progress being needed in regards to education surrounding good health practices and increased awareness of the dangers of chronic/non-communicable diseases.
Q: What was your favourite virtual fieldtrip?
The Yakkum Rehabilitation Centre fieldtrip was one of the highlights of the Public Health Study Tour. This venture highlighted the lives of those living with a disability in Indonesia, be it of a physical or mental nature. I was astonished to learn of the variety of services the Yakkum Rehabilitation Centre offered, and the major impact it has had and is having on the people it serves. To learn of the extensive effort being made to improve the lives of those living with disability within Indonesia struck a personal chord, I was overjoyed and inspired by the Yakkum goal of wanting to develop quality and accountable integrated services and facilitate empowerment to fulfil persons with disability.
Q: How do you think the Virtual Public Health Study Tour will influence your future career or studies?
The knowledge and connections gained through the virtual public health study tour will influence my future career and studies greatly. The tour reinforced my want to work overseas in a health capacity, providing medical aid to those who need it the most. The tour brought to the forefront the growing public health issues globally and the role that Australia will play in lessening these increasing burdens. Australia, as Indonesia’s neighbour, has an obligation to aid Indonesia in all its health needs, and I wish to be apart of this future movement and developing relationship between Indonesia and Australia.
Q: Would you recommend this virtual program to your friends?
The Public Health Study Tour far exceeded my expectations on both an academic and personal level. My knowledge and understanding of the Indonesian Health System and Public Health Issues has grown exponentially, giving me insight into the complex inner-workings of a nation plagued by many diseases, but rich in culture and kindness. Personally, I didn’t expect to feel so welcomed and so accepted into a foreign community, but I did. All the lecturers, organisers and tour leader were so kind and positive, enhancing my learning experience and absorption of knowledge. I felt comfortable to share my opinions and questions without the fear of being wrong or judged, and this was due to the friendliness and kindness of all on the Public Health Study Tour.
The Public Health Study Tour was not like I thought it would be. I was expecting a one-way conversation, from lecturer to student, but it wasn’t like that at all. Instead, it was an environment of sharing and two-way conversations, forming a collective wealth of knowledge from which all benefited. Overall, all the learnings outcomes, all of the seminars and virtual tours, as well as the people I had the opportunity to meet and converse with surpassed my expectations, providing me with one of the best learning opportunities and experiences of my academic career.
I would definitely recommend this program to my friends; they won’t be able to stop me from talking about it!
Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase?
Q: Describe your experience of the Virtual PHST in three words:
Eye-opening. Insightful. Unforgettably Educational.