New Colombo Plan - Connect to Australia’s future - study in the region.

Public Health Study Tour

Honey Cin Zah is a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient from Monash University. Honey undertook the Public Health Study Tour in January 2024. Honey is studying Bachelor of Public Health.

Q:Why did you decide to undertake the ACICIS Public Health Study Tour?

As a Public Health student, I have always been intrigued in health program planning, especially among developing countries. Luckily, I was introduced to the ACICIS program through my unit coordinator. The program covered a wide variety of rising public health issues in Indonesia, whilst incorporating field trips to organisations and initiatives developed to tackle these issues. Therefore, the ACICIS program was a perfect opportunity for me to explore the ways health issues are approached in developing countries.

Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? If so, how did this contribute to your experience in Indonesia?

I am very honoured and grateful to have received the NCP Mobility Grant for my tour in Indonesia. The grant allowed me to be part of an amazing experience that has left a great impact on my academic knowledge, as well as person outlook on life.

Q: What did you find to be the most challenging about your experience on the PHST?

The most challenging aspect of my PHST would be saying goodbye. I came into the tour not knowing the language, culture, and anyone on the PHST, however, I left with limited but nonetheless some knowledge of Bahasa Indonesian, firsthand experiences in Indonesia’s health settings (e.g puskesmas), as well as friends and new relationships that I have carried on after the program has ended.

Q: What public health issues in Indonesia have you become more interested in/aware of as a result of this tour?

As a result of this tour, I have become more aware of the food safety concerns in Indonesia.

Although I was already aware that there are many food safety concerns regarding lack of food and water sanitation, especially due to the large number of “warungs” and street foods. However, I realised through the tour that to tackle food safety itself, it is not as simple as to adding more rules and regulations and banning all the street food vendors as many people rely on these for income.

I became more aware of how interconnected everything is from physical health to the infrastructure and environment, as well as income and to tackle one health issue is to understanding the source of the issue from a wider perspective and take everything else into consideration as well.

Q: What was your favourite field trip? 

My favourite field trip was to the KEBAYA Foundation. The story of Mami and the individuals who have sought help from her really touched me. The lack of support and hardship she faced and endured for individuals who have HIV/AIDS, TB, and other diseases and illnesses was truly inspiring. Despite Indonesia’s lack of support towards the LGBTQ community, the foundation stands strongly for what they believe in whilst still accepting everyone, even those who do not identify as LGBTQ if they seek help.

Q: How do you think the Public Health Study Tour will influence your future career or studies?

Through my experience in the PHST, I was inspired to start my own organisation/ initiative to help those living in developing countries. It made me realise just how privileged we are to even be able to attend school, let alone have the opportunity to choose a school that fits our criteria best – then given the opportunity to change or modify our course to better fit our taste and personal goals. The tour inspired me to want to give back and also allow for more amazing and wonder filled youths to also have the same educational opportunities.

Visiting organisations and foundations during the PHST has taught me many things about what is needed for organisations to be successful and impactful for the community. For this reason, I was able to gain knowledge on how to potentially start my own organisation in the future. I am truly grateful for this experience and it’s positive impact on my future career goals.

Q:What did you most enjoy about the seminar series?

Despite going into the seminars thinking they would be a little draining and the least enjoyable part of the tour, I was very much wrong. Each speaker had such incredible academic history, a wealth of knowledge and experience in each of their respectable field and so much passion. I enjoyed how many different fields of studies and seminars we had as it truly covered everything from communicable diseases, to climate change and politics in Indonesia.

Q: What was your favourite aspect about visiting Indonesia?

I loved meeting all my buddies, especially from the University of Indonesia. They made the experience so much more amazing as they were locals and knew more than any article could tell you about Indonesia and its culture. Additionally, the PHST leaders were all so friendly, kind, and helpful in all aspects of the trip and they made the experience all the world better. They had amazing advice and recommendations for places to visit, explore and eat at which helped us to enjoy and experience many amazing places Indonesia had to offer.